Report #53: GA450 - The cheapest way to buy GA's segments?
This will be my report on flying on Garuda Indonesia economy class from Denpasar DPS to Lombok LOP, an ultra short-haul flight within Indonesia, on board its Boeing 737-800. Also, apologies beforehand for the rather limited review due to the segment length.
A recipe for being charged so much was by booking at very last minute, and since the previous flight was booked and flown the day before there was pretty much no option for a low-cost, direct flight option at a convenient time from DPS to CGK/HLP on any carrier, even more so for GA (plus, they're a terrible way to earn segments since they only earn 1 or 2 segments). To get around that, I decided to do a quick search on LOP-CGK flights, which happened to show ID offering rock-bottom cheap fares on the mid-afternoon flight. Fortunately, the schedule also made it possible to be combined with GA's DPS-LOP flight to get a couple of segments for cheap so I picked this DPS-LOP flight, also known as GA's shortest flight, and then self-connect at LOP while still arriving in CGK on late afternoon.
I bought the flexible economy class ticket which costed me Rp506.500 (US$34). In terms of the miles earning, I received in total 43 KrisFlyer miles from my credit card + 68 GarudaMiles award miles and 3 segments from the flight (time for fast-track to elite status?)
Trip to DPS and check-in
After I had my breakfast near my hotel and bought some snacks for my colleagues, I proceeded to the airport by motorcycle taxi.
Since the motorcycle taxi couldn't really get into the airport, it took me 7 minutes of walk just to get to the domestic terminal building, even though my walking pace was already decent.
The longer side of the terminal was quiet since it wasn't used for drop-off.
Naturally, the security here was also fast.
Compare that with the security near to the drop-off area, which was pretty messy.
Since it was Sunday after all, JT's check-in counters were packed.
GA's check-in counters are located on the other side. There was a bit of queue in the general economy class check-in counters (as a silver member I wasn't eligible for priority check-in outside CGK and SUB), however since I had no bag to check I proceeded straight to the counter for hand baggage only passengers, which was queue-free.
The upgrade offer for ex-DPS flights posted on the counter, however even the check-in agent agreed that the upgrade wasn't worth it for such a short flight.
My boarding pass for the day, which was printed in the usual paper stock.
After check-in I proceeded to the ticket check.
Security screening followed, which was also fast.
DPS transit area
Unlike the other security checkpoint, the one near GA's desks were still at the ground floor so I proceeded to the departure floor upstairs.
The ever-present photo stand.
Like its international terminal counterpart, the domestic terminal also feature a maze of shops I needed to pass through before reaching the gate.
FIDS of the afternoon.
Situation at the waiting room.
Mini lounge test #1: Concordia Lounge Bali
One of the main reasons I didn't bite the airport upgrade surcharge and take their business class was because I also had access to a contract lounge thanks to my credit card, so it's more of a lounge upgrade rather than not going to the lounge at all without the upgrade.
The entrance to the lounge. I showed my boarding pass and my credit card.
I was then presented with the lounge access receipt as well as the Wi-Fi password.
I entered the lounge, which was rather quiet. The lounge mainly consisted of seats, and they didn't afford any privacy at all
The foods on offer were rather paltry.
Some JT flight attendants could even be seen taking a rest at the lounge, which wasn't a pretty sight.
While I didn't get to take more photos as I was tied up with other tasks, there were a few things I took note of: - Like most domestic contract lounges, this one doesn't have a shower, just lavatories, - The staffs took a while to clear the plates, even when some of them were notably just standing around the corner, and - It was only after I complained that the "chicken" soup was more like chicken broth soup then the staff offered me some more chicken - talk about drastic cost-cutting here.
Lounge test verdict and departure
The lounge on overall was just barely adequate for a domestic contract lounge, and while it was comfortable for a short wait the dismal food offering and lack of privacy (not to mention lack of shower as well) the lounge wasn't something I would go early to the airport for.
It was time to see some planes: QG's 320, one of JT's earlier 7M8 (note the pattern on the tail, which was synonymous with OD), and IW's AT7. You can also see here that on the western side of the terminal the stands are all remote despite being close enough to the building.
IN's 735 being pushed back.
Some stores inside the terminal.
Was that going to be the plane for the afternoon?
Boarding had already started for a while so there wasn't much queue to board.
I first proceeded through the corridor.
Since the gate doesn't even have an aerobridge, I proceeded down the stairs.
JT's 7M8 was seen parked beside our plane.
The plane for the afternoon was PK-GFN, one of GA's older 738 painted in one of GA's vintage liveries. I had flown on the same plane from JOG to CGK a few weeks before (not yet reported), so it was rather surprising to fly on this plane again.
As I entered and was greeted by the flight attendants, I decided to take the sole kind of newspaper offered for the flight.
I first passed the empty business class cabin (in all fairness, this was expected since they charged a lot for this).
It was time to proceed further back.
My seat for the short hop.
Boarding was still well underway, with many of the passengers for this flight being foreigners.
Legroom was decent as usual, and surprisingly enough this seat was much easier to snag compared with the bulkhead row seats.
The seat featured an IFE screen, a disabled table and a literature pocket.
Instead, the table was taken from the armrest.
The table was on the smaller side, but it was typical of GA's 738.
Contents inside the literature pocket.
The new headphone was offered, which was rather uncomfortable.
The view from the window.
Selfie test: the headrest was working this time.
The flight attendant was addressing all of us seated in the emergency exit row.
A proof of just how short the flight was.
The entertainment selections for the month
We soon started pushing back.
There was nobody else seated at my seat triplet, so Ms. Christy, one of the flight attendants for the flight, would sit at the aisle seat for both take-off and landing.
Safety video was screened.
As usual, the flight attendants bowed and clasped their hands at the end of the video.
QZ's 320 starting to leave DPS together with us.
Some views during the taxi.
SQ's 781 arriving at DPS.
It was afterwards our turn and we had a rather quick take-off.
In the meanwhile I also had a look at the moving map. Compare the distance with between Surabaya (SUB) and Bali (DPS), which I had flown before and still less than 250 miles in distance.
We further climbed to a measly cruise altitude of 7000 feet.
The fasten seatbelt sign turned off as we reached the altitude.
On the screen IFE preview and a couple of ads were screened.
The flight attendants rushed to serve the snacks, which was still provided anyway despite the 76 miles distance.
A standard economy class snackbox was handed, without any drink round.
Contents inside the snack box.
The filling for the bread happened not to be meat, which means that it was more generous.
The snack for the afternoon consisted of: - Nuts: Mixed nuts - Bread: Puff bread - Drink: Aqua brand mineral water
While the snack was ordinary (and even pretty limited compared with what GA offered on its longer ultra short-haul/shorter short-haul routes like to SUB), the fact that there was even a snack service was something to be appreciated.
Since I had barely any time to do a proper review I rushed to check the lavatory after I finished the bread, which was clean as it was otherwise unused.
A view of the cabin from behind.
The galley was pretty much littered with the boxes of snack not served.
As we started the descent the Lombok island could be seen.
The scenery changed from lush, hilly area to paddy fields.
Landing was uneventful, although since we managed to slow down just after passing the taxiway to the terminal building we needed to turn around before getting into the apron.
A couple of minutes later we passed by the small terminal. Note the terminal being expanded.
As usual, people had already queued to deplane after the plane was stopped.
It was soon my turn and I proceeded to the front door.
We proceeded to deplane using the aerobridge.
A view of JT's 738 parked beside our plane.
Arrival in LOP and post-arrival trip
A view of the gate, where I would depart from in a couple of hours.
Typical on many of the larger Indonesian airports, I first proceeded through the interstitial corridor.
The luggage claim area was rather dingy and crowded.
Normally I would go out to the public area and have my bag screened again.
Instead, I remained inside the terminal and connected straight into the check-in area for my flight to CGK.
Denpasar - DPS
Lombok - LOP
Though a ride on GA's older 738 wasn't something I exactly wanted, save for perhaps vintage-themed flights GA currently runs (as of Dec 2018), it was still quite acceptable and especially worth considering when trying to upgrade or maintain status on GA's frequent flyer. In terms of the airports, both DPS and LOP were nothing to write home about apart from the contract lounge, which was shabby.
On overall, I would still fly with GA on this extremely short hop (in fact, I did the reverse the month after), although that would be mostly to rack up segments on a shoestring.
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