The airline with the best average rating is Garuda Indonesia with 8.1/10.
The average flight time is 2 hours and 24 minutes.More information
Report #74: GA612 - Flying on Indonesia's most scandalous plane
This will be my review on flying on Garuda Indonesia business class from Jakarta CGK to Makassar UPG, a short-haul domestic flight within Indonesia, on board their Airbus A330-900neo.
Excluding GA's ill-fated 737 MAX 8, which I had reviewed before on both economy and business class, GA took 3 years from their previous delivery to this one. Add that with GA's unclear fleet expansion program, and the fact that a new plane type actually being delivered became one to look after. The delivery of this plane was nothing short of sensational either, with smuggled vehicles scandal that managed to oust GA's CEO and later on even spread to sexual harassment scandal that became a national sensation. That being said, GA's new plane immediately got into my to-fly list and I decided to fly on their business class.
Thanks to GA's promotion for upgrade with miles, I decided to buy an economy class ticket before upgrading it at GA's ticket office. Overall, the ticket cost me Rp2.035.247 (~US$145) after OTA discount for the economy class ticket, plus 8.640 GarudaMiles award miles after GA's promotions for the ticket class upgrade.
As I departed on Friday afternoon and given that Jakarta's traffic isn't known to be the best around, I went to the airport by the airport train. I also took remote work arrangement for this trip, so the space also worked for me to work during the 45 mins ride to the airport.
The ticket was nowhere near cheap at Rp70.000/pax for purchases at the station, though still cheaper than taking a ride using ride-hailing service.
The people mover was another thing, though: not only were they notoriously slow, they were also jam-packed.
After much agony, I reached the terminal with only 50 minutes to scheduled departure time. Therefore, I simply asked to have my boarding pass printed, and one was issued immediately.
GA had launched their new boarding pass design the month before, which now boasted a batik pattern for their business or first class boarding pass.
It was time to proceed through security. Despite the crowded-looking area, there was barely any queue inside.
As a domestic business class passenger, I received complimentary access to GA's domestic business class lounge. Alternatively, I could also get complimentary access as a GarudaMiles Platinum member.
I reached the front reception area, and after a scan of my boarding pass was let in.
There wasn't much change from before in terms of the seating, so I won't touch that much here.
You'd expect some reading materials in the lounge, which the lounge had a decent amount of.
The only improvement in the lounge was the coworking area.
GA offered a couple of private rooms for its paid frequent flyer membership tier, which was launched with little fanfare.
As I was on a tight schedule, the first order of business was shower; on the domestic business class lounge shower area consisted of cubicles in the lavatory proper, more akin to showers on a swimming pool (though with amenities). Naturally, I needed to store my bags outside the cubicle.
Snacks were still offered on the original business class lounge proper, however ….
More substantial meals were only offered on the open air part of the lounge, which was formerly used for GarudaMiles Gold members, which was warm to say the least. Apparently, this was also the only way to get people to that section, as it was previously really empty.
The hot buffet was a huge downgrade from what was previously offered with all starchy items, which tasted only mediocre.
The closest thing to real meat was self-serve chicken noodle, which didn't look appetizing either.
Despite having roughly the same hard product, the experience in the lounge itself was a huge letdown. Not only were the foods low quality, the shower itself was basic for a flagship lounge and the lounge just felt crowded (it's not like US domestic lounge-crowded, but still ….) In retrospect, it was almost right for me not to maintain my GarudaMiles Platinum for the following year.
After I had some nibbles, I went straight to the gate as it was time for boarding. The queue was pretty disorderly and boarding priority wasn't enforced.
As we were boarding from the remote stand, however, a dedicated minibus was provided for business class passengers.
The plane for the day was PK-GHE, a 1 month old 339. In fact, this flight would be her third commercial flight.
We were asked to wait for a while, and afterwards invited to board through the front staircase.
It was time to board the aircraft, where I was welcomed by the flight attendant.
Load factor: 33% J (8/24), 100% Y
Seat type: Staggered business class (window seat)
GA filled the entire front cabin with 24 staggered business class seats. Just like their 77W, this plane was also configured with the middle seats alternating between both close to the aisle or both close to each other.
I took the seat 9K, one of the 6 true window seats. As expected on such a new aircraft, the new plane smell was evident.
The luggage bin was spacious, though it's not like I bring anything other than my backpack into the cabin.
As soon as I settled, I was addressed by name and was offered welcome drink, for which I opted for orange juice. Towel was also brought soon afterwards - I may be nitpicking over here, but the towel's tag shouldn't be visible when the towel was presented.
Legroom was just okay - I especially hated the seat structure right in front of my feet, as I could only either stretch a bit or put my foot flat on the foot cubby.
The foot cubby was also pretty deep, though on the plus side it was larger than what I found on the 333 with Super Diamond seats. The table was stored above the cubby, while the literature pocket was on its side.
The literature pocket contained the usual suspects.
Magazines were also distributed for business class passengers, so I opted to get one.
The headrest was only slightly adjustable upward. Like other staggered seats, a 3-point seatbelt was provided.
Seat control was located beside the side table, so during upright position I managed to accidentally recline the seat a couple of times.
Just like most respectable seats, AC and USB plugs were provided, this time beside the seat.
Noise-cancelling earphones were available on each seat, though they weren't pleasant to use.
Safety video was played as we pushed back.
As we started our taxi, the ground staffs bid us farewell.
There was a bit of a queue for the runway, though it quickly cleared up and we soon flew above Tangerang.
While waiting for my dinner I took my laptop to catch some work. Even for a 12" laptop, the table weren't that much wider than those on economy class. If anything, the table was so deep I could put my coffee and nuts behind later on.
Wi-Fi was offered to this plan, and they have complimentary plan on offer for all passengers, which I used. As claimed, though, they're good for almost nothing except sending WhatsApp text messages.
Enter text here…
Dinner service was offered on this flight. Before takeoff I was offered with the choice of either beef and chicken with rice or dry noodle with seafood, and I picked the earlier one. Drinks were also offered to pair the meal, for which I opted for orange
The dinner menu for this flight consisted of:
Appetizer: Cucumber salad
Main course: Dry noodle with seafood soup or beef rendang and roasted chicken with rice, cassava leaves, potato cake, and green chili sauce
Dessert: Traditional snack
Drink (default): Mineral water
Drink: Coffee (Toraja ground coffee/Java ground coffee/standard Nescafe) / tea / fruit juices / mineral water
To start, the chilled cucumber salad tasted okay - nothing particularly special. In terms of the main course, they were generally on the oily side though apart that tasted good and just like on another regional carrier was also accompanied with fish crackers. I couldn't figure out what the dessert was, but that was also decent. On overall, this was a pretty decent meal for a short-haul service.
After the dinner service ended I was offered another round of drink, for which I opted for Toraja ground coffee. The coffee was also accompanied with mixed nuts, which was a nice touch.
I checked the selections on the IFE, which were pretty dismal. Had the IFE remained like this, I could think of people complaining as a couple of weeks later the plane was also used for flights as far as to LHR.
The same could also be said about the moving map, which weren't that interactive.
I checked the lavatory, which was still immaculate.
Airbus fortunately still had some decency not to fit the lavatories with the minuscule basin like what's offered on Boeing's 7M8.
I went around and tried the bulkhead seat. The sole difference compared with the non-bulkhead seats are the slightly different sized footwell - no additional storage was offered.
After I worked for a while, it was finally time to land at UPG.
I then also realized that a rather large adjustable partition was provided for the center seats - not that they were useful for this flight.
After bidding farewell to the crew I deplaned by the front staircase, which provided me with another chance to admire at the plane.
This followed by the short bus ride, which I rode instead of the business class-only minibus as I deplaned pretty late.
Following the ride I found myself at the domestic arrival area.
You'd expect quite a number of people checking bags on a GA flight, which was also true this time.
Apart from a handful of key airports, instead of arrival lounge they had a dedicated luggage claim area for business class passengers.
The departure FIDS for the evening. As the main connector between Eastern Indonesia and Western Indonesia, there were a lot of flights to Maluku and Papua islands scheduled on midnight for arrival on the early morning.
I made my way outside before taking a taxi to downtown Makassar. I initially thought of taking bus, but go figure that the bus only operates roughly during working hours while UPG is in fact a 24 hours airport.
This flight was actually the best domestic flight I've ever had. Despite the pretty crap lounge, the product onboard made up for it - the seats were not bad, food more than edible, and service was quite good given the flight time. This flight was also slightly longer than CGK-DPS, which also helped me to get a better feel on the product. If only GA can offer this kind of service on most trunk routes ....
All in all, I'd fly with GA on this route again, but only when better promotions are offered.