What better way to start a quick trip to Bali than onboard Garuda Indonesia’s Executive (Business) Class!
Carrier: Garuda Indonesia (GA)
Route: Sydney (SYD) – Denpasar (DPS)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Cabin Class: Business
Seat Number: 07K
Flight Number: GA 715
As we approached check-in, there was, thankfully, no line for Sky Priority (the designation used for priority across the Skyteam airlines). We were quickly checked-in by the agent, who surprisingly presented us with express cards for arrival back into Sydney, as well as express departure cards. I’m glad she gave us these arrival express cards, as we ended up receiving more in Denpasar for our return, meaning I could keep 6 cards for my next arrivals into Sydney! She also gave us a spare departure card, which I shall use for my next flight. Garuda’s ‘X’ factor on this flight was the Immigration On Board, which would enable us to skip the exceedingly long queues that always form at Ngurah Rai airport. However, the agent informed us that the system was being updated, so it was not available on this flight. A real blow, seeing as this was one of the main reasons we chose GA!
Garuda currently uses Qantas’ Business Class lounge, however, the Sydney Skyteam lounge is expected to open some time in Q4 2014, which will then become GA’s principle lounge. The Qantas Business lounge is set up nicely, with simple, artistic, and attractive décor. This morning, there was, however, a limited choice of food for breakfast. Also, there was a coffee machine with an attendant, however, it was incredibly slow to get these coffees ‘hand made’. Alternatively, there were a couple of self-service coffee machines. Theses machines also had a range of tea bags next to them, however, I could not seem to find any hot water! The bathrooms were in a terrible state. Quite dirty and not well-kept. No where near the standard of Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris lounges in Changi Airport! However, I am sure that once the Skyteam lounge opens, it will be amazing!
The Qantas Business Lounge
This centre dining bar seems a great idea but wasn’t really used. I’m sure it’s busier during lunch/ dinner periods.
We left the lounge and headed to the gate, where there was no significant delay (albeit a slight delay) in boarding. However, once they called priority boarding, we were held just short of the final airbridge, whilst we waited for the crew and staff to be finally prepared. I would have expected them to be a bit more organised and only commence boarding when everyone was ready! The other downside was that boarding was done through door 1L, meaning all of Business Class would have Economy passengers walking through during boarding, restricting the crew’s service. On the return flight, boarding was held through door 2L, allowing the forward J cabin to be secluded.
The aircraft today was an Airbus A330-243, registered PK-GPI. It’s first flight was 12 October 2009, making it 5 years old. GA separates the aircraft into 4 cabins: 2 Business cabins (each with 3 rows), and 2 Economy cabins. I was seated in 7K today. In reality, this seat is numbered 7K, however, the map below shows it as 2K. I am yet to understand why some aircraft are numbered in this way. I’ve flown other aircraft where the first row is row 11, and I simply don’t see why!
So, after boarding, the crew served hot towels and welcome drinks. They only offered orange juice, water and champagne now (due to regulations), and served all drinks after take off. Our flight time today was to be 5 hours and 35 minutes. A disappointingly short haul for such a nice Business class! The load was really light, with more than half the seats in Business unoccupied. This was in the middle of the school holidays, so I assume these flights would have been packed at the start of the holidays!
After take-off, the crew took orders for lunch. GA offered 3 selections (Indonesian, Japanese and Western), and the Western had another 2 choices. I chose the ‘Indonesian Warmth’, which was a 4 course degustation of Indonesian foods.
So on to the meals! Garuda Indonesia employs a dedicated chef for all Business and First Class passengers. The chef is dressed in a black Chef uniform, and prepares/ cooks all meals, whilst the crew assist and serve them.
Garuda uses beautiful cutlery and crockery for all meals in Business. The bread basket is served on a glass tray with a smeared dark purple accent. Three warm breads were provided, all of which had amazing flavour!
Course 1 was the classic Indonesian Gado-Gado. Garuda served an amazing dish with perfectly textured cold tofu, and mind-blowing peanut sauce to garnish:
Course 2 was an Indonesian soup. Once again served in beautiful crockery, the soup was wonderful. I was perfectly salted with plenty of flavour. The meat was so tender, and the vegetables flavoursome:
Course 3 was a seared salmon with steamed rice. The sauce was amazing, and the rice had excellent texture for aircraft food!I didn’t enjoy the actual salmon as much, and think that more sauce would have made the dish better. The vegetables were alright, but a little hard:
The final course was the dessert. I originally requested the European dessert instead. The stewardess said she would check with the chef, but unfortunately all of the European selections were taken. But nonetheless, the Indonesian dessert was amazing! It had very authentic flavour and really interesting textures:
And now, the seat! I didn’t manage to get many photos, but I’ll provide a description. This aircraft had the older style seats, which were just a hair away from being fully flat. They were flat, but slightly angled. The seat cushions themselves were average, but could have been more comfortable. They were fabric, and I don’t think anything can beat Singapore Airlines’ plush leather Business Class. There was great control over seating position, with the ability to adjust the lumbar support, backrest, footrest and seat pan position. The lumbar support had a massage feature which would continuously roll up and down the seat back. A nice touch! There was, however, limited storage around the seat. There was a small compartment mainly for the headphones, but other than that there was nothing in the seat itself. The seat back had a literature pocket, small shoe closet and water bottle holder, but the overall storage was insufficient. There were two reading lights (one adjustable one at shoulder level and one on the ceiling). The cabin itself was incredibly spacious and felt amazing. The bed itself was not bad, but actually not long enough. In a seat position, the legroom is great, but in the bed position, it is a bit limited. I also found myself wanting to keep extending the footrest, however, its maximum extension was not sufficient. In-seat universal power is also provided.
I love this subtle purple lighting. I’ve seen it on a few aircraft and somewhat prefer it to the more intense mood lighting on newer aircraft.
The older Garuda seats have a pretty poor Inflight Entertainment System (IFE). There is a fairly limited selection of movies and TV shows. In terms of layout, TV shows do not have their own category, but instead are under ‘Short Features’ in ‘Movies’. In the old Business, the screen is below the centre armrest and can be raised when needed. The monitor is touch screen, but is sometimes unresponsive and slow when making selections. The biggest problem with the system is that there is NO LIVE FLIGHT MAP! I hate not being able to see where the aircraft is and how long remaining. I am sure this is available on the newer aircraft, though.
An hour and a half before landing, a refreshment was served. I decided to go for the Japanese selection this time, and so chose the Japanese Gyokoro Green Tea. It was served in lovely crockery, however the tea itself was really not that great! It tasted very artificial for some reason, but that’s just my taste!
The Japanese selection consisted of Udon noodles and tempura prawn. The noodles were perfectly cooked, and the soup was warm and flavoursome. The prawn itself was amazing, and the whole thing was well presented.
At this point in the flight, the turbulence started getting pretty heavy. The seat-belt signs were on for the majority of the end of the flight. I assumed this was the imd when we were leaving Australia, as this region usually has high turbulence.
Garuda Indonesia provides L’Occitane amenity kits. I was very surprised to receive this on such a short day flight. The kit itself is very comprehensive. The travel bag is well constructed, and unlike some other kits has a really good quality zip. The bag features subtle ‘Garuda Indonesia’ and ‘L’Occitane’ logos. The colours are interesting, and I personally would have chose something a bit more contemporary had I been the designer!
The contents: Eye mask, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb/brush, ear plugs, Verveine Eu de Toilette, Verbena Lotion, Lip Balm
The L’Occitane products: Verveine Eu de Toilette, Verbena Body Lotion, Lip Balm
A lot of airlines use Verveine and Verbena products in their lavatories. I just love that lemony scent that these ranges possess. I always instantly associate that smell to travel in premium classes! Singapore Airlines provides Verbena Eu de Toilette in the Business Class lavatories.
The Garuda Indonesia Service:
I was very impressed with the cabin crew, and can see why they were awarded ‘World’s Best Cabin Crew’ this year. My sister was sleeping at one point during the flight, and the stewardess unwrapped a blanket and placed it on her. A nice touch! Unfortunately on this flight, the crew did not refer to us by name, which was disappointing, considering this was a premium flight. They were all very friendly. I took a walk back to Economy at one point and was talking to the Economy crew. For some reason, they seemed a bit warmer and more welcoming than the Business crew. They were really happy for me to take photos of the cabin and of them! I just took a couple of cabin shots:
As we came to the end of the flight, the crew started preparing for arrival. The purser provided his final announcement and thank you, and at the conclusion, two orange-kebaya crew bowed at the front of the aisles. A very nice touch! Everything is done quite quickly and at a rushed pace towards the end. The captains simply announces “Aircraft on decent” just as we begin descending, and the crew start clearing everything up. They are doing final preparations right up until the aircraft is very low above the ground.
I very much enjoyed the Garuda Indonesia Business Class experience. The crew were great, and the food was amazing. The cabin was wonderful, but a bit dated. I would certainly recommend the airline, based on their excellent service and product, and very competitive pricing. GA, you have served well!
Here are the final ratings:
Cabin State: 4/5
Ground Procedures: 4/5
And Enjoy Your Journey.
© Ashan Karunagaran