Report #62: GA71 - Last hop before reaching GA's top-tier status
This will be my report on flying on Garuda Indonesia economy class from Bandar Lampung TKG to Jakarta CGK, an ultra short-haul route within Indonesia, on board its Boeing 737-800. This review will be shorter than usual since the flight time was rather short, and the review may be slightly heavier on the lounge review.
TKG - CGK on Garuda Indonesia 737-800 economy classYou are here
After a couple of other CGK-TKG flights which unfortunately I didn't plan to review for now (there are just too many flights on my backlog I would look too much like a GA fan if I published them all, but all of them were still properly documented) and the 3 island segment run series I had reported before, I was only 6 segments short from reaching GA's platinum status (equivalent to SkyTeam Elite Plus; their gold status is only equivalent to SkyTeam Elite) the proper way. In addition, I also had a couple of expiring OTA vouchers from my visit on GA's travel fair the month before, so I figured out that I may as well take the last ultra short-haul hops on GA for 2018.
I booked a quick return flight (you're looking at only 4 1/4 hours from arriving at CGK by bus and leaving CGK again by bus) on their flexible economy class 2 days before the trip, which costed me Rp594.900 (US$40) before OTA cashback. In return, I earned 60 KrisFlyer miles from my credit card, 160 GarudaMiles award miles from the flight, and 3 segments for this flight alone.
Trip to TKG and check-in
I did my check-in at one of GA's sales offices and had my three boarding passes for this day and the day after in the boarding pass folder (the last one will be covered in the next series).
After a short walk along the kerbside I reached the departure area, where I was subjected to preliminary ticket and security check.
GA's priority check-in counter wasn't crowded, but since I had my boarding pass ….
Instead of getting some nibbles done I scanned my boarding pass at the turnstile and was allowed to go upstairs.
Naturally, I also needed to get through the security check, though it was fast.
TKG transit area
Situation at the gate before I went up to the lounge.
Lounge test #1: DW Lounge
As a GarudaMiles Gold member I received complimentary access to the DW Lounge, which was the default lounge for GA flights.
Seating mostly consisted of sofas as if they picked the ones from the common waiting room and tweaked them a bit.
Though there was no power plug at the seating area, a dedicated area to charge devices made up for it.
When I first took a photo of the main hot buffet, one of the containers were even missing, showing the limescale on the container below.
It was only after the missing container was put back and the sole menu became clearer: Jakarta-style coconut rice with stir-fried fermented soybean and fried noodle as the side dishes. I wasn;t in the mood for some soup, so though there were some I didn't partake on it.
Some savoury snacks were offered.
Sweeter snacks were grouped together with the beverage section, where a fruit cordial being the sole refreshing drink being offered.
What I tried at the lounge (I must had forgotten where did I get the black glutinous rice). Not only were all of them bland, they were also very poor quality-wise.
Let's just say that the wash basin area wasn't the cleanest of all either.
Lounge test #2: Executive Lounge
As a GarudaMiles Gold member I also received complimentary access to the Executive Lounge, which was the common premium lounge for all carriers. Come think of it, though, where else can you go for a lounge hop in such a small airport (< 2 million pax/year)?
The first sight upon entering the lounge was not the reception, but instead the large damage to the ceiling, complete with buckets to handle any leakage.
Seating mainly consisted of sofas, which was more comfortable than the one in DW lounge. There was a smoking room as well further inside, though I didn't check it out. Also, there were very few power plugs, though few seemed to be bothered with it.
A simple chicken turmeric soup was on offer this morning Being an Indonesian lounge, crackers were never absent either.
The lounge's main hot buffet consisted of fried rice and potato crisps with chili paste, which to say the least was borderline comical.
Snacks were also provided, although I couldn't help but to wonder if people at TKG really love cassava as snacks (see my review on the DW lounge above).
Some rather watery guava juice, coffee, and tea made the drinks offering in this lounge.
Lounge test verdict and departure
On overall both DW Lounge and Executive Lounge were pretty bad even for a domestic business class lounge standard, and something the airport should be ashamed of. Not only were the foods barely edible, the lounge was also pretty much unmaintained and offered very few amenities. While the lounges weren't meant to be used for waiting so long, I would even go as far as to just eat and then wait at the normal waiting area for my next ex-TKG flights, or even get to the airport as close to departure as possible and skip those lounges altogether.
The plane for the morning was PK-GEP, a 17 years old 738. Unlike most of GA's planes, she once served with another airline, FR to be exact.
Despite boarding on the "last call" there were still quite a bit of queue at the aerobridge.
JT's 738 being parked beside our plane.
It was time to board the plane again, after which I was greeted by the exact same crew as I had on my previous flight.
A rite of passage when doing status run was passing through the red curtain, leaving behind the business class cabin.
This time I opted for the right side of the second emergency exit row, like what I had on many other flights on 738/739/320.
Legroom has never been an issue on this seat row.
Since this plane sported the older seat, the table looked archaic as well.
Seatback consisted of a plastic cover and literature pocket.
Contents inside the literature pocket.
Me on the seat: As expected, the seat was well below my head, which though not especially comfortable compared with getting a headrest was still manageable for the 25-minutes hop.
Boardiing was still well underway.
The view from my window.
After waiting the for a while we finally departed from TKG and made our climb to the cruising altitude.
Service quickly began as the silent comedies were screened and the fasten seatbelt sign switched off.
The sole service on this kind of ultra short-haul flights consisted of handing out a snack box.
Contents inside the snack box, which were catered from TKG.
The snack service for the morning consisted of: Savoury bread: Bread with meatball-like meat product Sweet bread: Chocolate brownies Drink: Mineral water
I'm not sure if this has something to do with the Bandar Lampung-style palate (or rather, massive cost-saving), but just like the lounge the snack, especially the bread with meatball-like meat product, was terrible, on par or even worse than the ex-LOP bread with minced chicken. The brownies were also average, though on overall at least one should consider themselves lucky to get fed on this very short flight.
We were afforded with views of clouds as we cruised above the Java Sea.
It was time to descend back to the equally gloomy Jakarta.
View as we few over Tangerang.
Being like a commuter flight, others were rushing to queue at the aisle to deplane earlier.
This time we were lucky to be able to arrive at the main terminal building instead of the terminal extension.
It was time for me to deplane.
After bidding farewell to the crew I went into the terminal through the aerobridge.
Arrival at CGK and post-arrival trip
Does it really take 46 minutes to go to the CBD by train? Not quite - you've got the excruciatingly slow and infrequent people mover ride to the train station, an up to 30 minutes wait for trains, and then still connecting to the next mode of transport anyway.
I arrived at the baggage claim area, and with only my backpack with me I skipped the area.
One change I noticed that while on one of my reviews a few months before the carousel 13 (which was the closest one to GA's arrival "lounge") was used for both GA's premium and elite passengers, they had shifted the carousel for SkyTeam Elite Plus (including GarudaMiles Platinum members) passengers in economy class to carousel 12. It's not like there were many luggage for both of them in the same carousel anyway, but anyway ….
I soon found myself hopping on to the usual bus service, which was surprisingly quite crowded.
A couple of days after this flight my status was upgraded - too bad GA wouldn't send physical cards even for their top-tier members, but this was already one of the fastest ways to SkyTeam Elite Plus-equivalent status from scratch with only 22 short-haul flights on GA and KL flown and counted, many of them in economy class, so there's not much complaint in this regard.
Bandar Lampung - TKG
Jakarta - CGK
Though this was an otherwise uneventful flight, the lounge visits in TKG (surprisingly my first and only occasion for the entire 2018) showed that despite the main transit area was quite well-maintained, the supposedly premium lounges were pretty bad and not worth spending longer time in the airport for. Both airports were pretty fine with generally comfortable areas to walk through, and the flight was pretty much what I expected on GA's ultra short-haul flights, so there's not that much complaint on that.
On overall, I would fly on this flight only if I needed to top-up my GarudaMiles segments quickly (and do a quick return as well so I can avoid the lounges).
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