Report #50: GA71 - Refreshed economy class experience?
This will be my report on flying on Garuda Indonesia economy class from Bandar Lampung TKG to Jakarta CGK, an ultra short-haul flight within Indonesia, on board their Boeing 737-800. This review, along with some other domestic flights, will be made lighter than usual for your convenience.
As I had mentioned on the previous report, flying ultra short-haul on GA while ticketed on flexible economy class is still the cheapest way to get their elite status. As a result, I opted to buy another flexible economy class for my return flight to get another 3 segments. Did I also say this is a training for reporting ultra short-haul flights?
The ticket costed me Rp506.000 (US$34) after 15% OTA cashback and was already booked into the flexible economy class. I also didn't take the airport upgrade from TKG, so there was no additional cost flight-wise.
Trip to TKG and check-in
I tried to take the 4.30 AM bus to the airport, however they departed a few minutes early, leaving me with no bus service until later in the morning.
As a result, I needed to take the much more expensive car service, which costed me around Rp113,000 (~US$7.5).
After ~45 minutes I reached the airport.
The kerbside was as crowded as a Sunday can be (and for reference, all flights were sold out on that day)
Those who know JT, know that they're also notorious for longer check-in queue.
On the other hand, GA's counters saw less queue.
The boarding pass was printed in the standard GA stock paper.
A short walk was needed to get to the ticket check.
Since TKG is a rather small airport a manual ticket check was done.
It was then followed by a straightforward trip to the security checkpoint upstairs, which was quite fast.
TKG transit area and departure
After I cleared security I fisrt reached JT's gate.
TKG arranged its waiting area into a gate within a gate within a gate (almost like SQ's The Private Room, except that this one wasn't posh)
The view from the mezzanine floor afforded a glimpse of the planes parked on the tarmac.
Since I had nothing to do upstairs, I returned to the waiting area and then to GA's gate.
While GA have much less available seats from TKG than JT and ID combined, its waiting area felt more spacious and there were more sofas as well compared with the benches.
The plane of the day, PK-GMF, landed at ~06.25 local time.
A couple of minutes later she reached the parking stand.
A staple of many airports, an image of Indonesia's president riding a bicycle in front of the planned expressway across Sumatra island.
Situation at the gate prior to boarding, which was still rather quiet despite the high load factor.
I soon boarded and proceeded to the plane through the aerobridge.
Since I boarded quite early, there weren't much queue to enter the plane.
Since I decided it wasn't going to be worth the upgrade I went into the economy class section. Note the updated antimacassar, which was in light blue instead of cyan.
After a short stroll I reached my seat.
Legroom was as usual pretty good.
Being a rather old plane, some wear could be seen on the seat.
As usual, the seatback consisted of a literature pocket, a disabled table, and an IFE screen.
Since the table at the seatback was disabled, I needed to make do with the one that came from my armrest.
The contents in the literature pocket.
I was surprised to see the new headphone, featuring silicon ear pads. While better-looking than the old headphone, it was less comfortable.
Selfie test, which showed the headrest was extendable.
The view from the window was that of the emergency vehicles.
Boarding was still well underway.
I took the time to check their classical music offerings on their IFE, which was again on the more limited side.
Being seated on an emergency exit row seat, the usual briefing was conducted.
A few minutes later as we pushed back a safety demonstration video was screened.
Following a short taxi we took off.
The climb was uneventful.
The gloomy weather improved after reaching the rather measly 15.000 feet cruise altitude.
The flight attendants then rushed to offer the standard GA snack box.
The snack came in the standard economy class snack box.
Contents consisted of some savoury bread and a bread roll accompanied with a small bottle of mineral water, which was ordinary. As this flight wasn't from CGK, a coconut drink was not provided.
After the meal I paid a visit to the lavatory, which was clean.
A view from the rear cabin.
This was an interisland trip, so the view mainly consisted of sea.
As we descended Jakarta's smog started to become more apparent.
The distance on the moving map was erroneously displayed.
As we started approaching Java island the industrial area could be seen.
Landing was uneventful and we passed by JT's 744 and GA's 77W.
Following a rather long taxi we finally reached terminal 3.
GA's -GPU was parked near where we would park.
The view later on consisted of the terminal building and ground vehicles.
Being an early morning flight, many preferred to get out of the aircraft sooner.
It was soon my turn to leave the aircraft.
After I bid farewell to the crew I left the plane using the aerobridge.
Though we were parked at the nearest gate on the domestic extension pier, it would still be a lot of walk to reach the kerbside.
Arrival at CGK and post-arrival trip
It was GA's morning peak arrival, so it's only natural to see the amount of crowd.
It was still going to be a pretty long walk to reach the luggage claim area, let alone the bus terminal.
While there were buggies provided, the immense queue made it faster to walk instead.
After an arduous walk I finally reached the arrival area.
If only there is a dedicated exit for those without luggage ….
The arrival FIDS of the early morning.
The luggage claim area was quite quiet.
Since I had no luggage to claim I went to the public area.
I proceeded further out into the bus terminal part of the kerbside.
After waiting for ~30 minutes the usual bus finally reached the terminal.
The bus proceeded to the city with only a couple of passengers.
Bandar Lampung - TKG
Jakarta - CGK
While not a product I would especially anticipate for, GA offered an acceptable product for the ultra short-haul flight with on time arrival, decent seat, and a snack service. Its flexible economy class fare, while not the cheapest, was still worth it for the segments and also the on time performance, which was the main reason for the flight's high load factor. In terms of the airports, TKG was fine given the relatively small operations, but CGK terminal 3 felt larger and more crowded than expected, especially considering that it was still Sunday morning.
On overall, I would still not hesitate flying on the route again.
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