Garuda Indonesia Now SkyTeam Alliance Airline

Back in December SkyTeam announced Garuda Indonesia’s intentions to join SkyTeam as of March 5, 2014.

Well, that’s today, and I’m pleased to see that they actually stuck to the timeline, and Garuda Indonesia is now the 20th SkyTeam member airline. They’re now part of what is unarguably one of the world’s three most prestigious airline mega-alliances, including first rate airlines like Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Alitalia, and… well, those are just the “A’s,” do I really have to go on? 😉

Per the SkyTeam press release:

JAKARTA, 5 March 2014 – SkyTeam, the global airline alliance, has welcomed Garuda Indonesia as its 20th member and second airline from Southeast Asia.  Garuda’s membership adds Jakarta as an alternative gateway to and from South East Asia, as well as 40 new destinations to SkyTeam’s global network served uniquely by the alliance.

Garuda’s entry into the alliance will give its customers access to SkyTeam’s 1,064 destinations that cover more than 90% of the most relevant traffic flows in the world,” said Michael Wisbrun, SkyTeam’s Managing Director. “Garuda strengthens our presence throughout the Asia Pacific region for our 588 Million global passengers.”

“SkyTeam aims to boost its members’ competitiveness by strengthening network and hubs, enhancing their global footprint, improving the customer experience and introducing innovative initiatives that enhance customer benefits,” continued Mr Wisbrun.

“Today is a significant and historic event for Garuda Indonesia as we officially become the 20th member of SkyTeam. For the past 3 years, Garuda Indonesia has been actively forging cooperation with the other 19 member airlines with this objective in mind and it has been an incredible journey,” said President and CEO of Garuda Indonesia, Emirsyah Satar. “Joining SkyTeam is part of Garuda Indonesia’s progressive transformation program throughout all aspects of the company. This milestone marks a momentous occasion in our airline’s 65-year history and we look forward to  future collaboration with our alliance partners.”

Now admittedly Garuda Indonesia has a really shaky history. For a while they were racking up accidents faster than Alaska Airlines was purchasing earning J.D. Power Awards.

But they’ve been trying to change their image the last few years, and from the looks of it have been doing a damn good job investing in new aircraft and their onboard product. They now have their new flagship 777-300ER aircraft, which feature a phenomenal first and business class product.

Garuda-Indonesia-First-Class
Garuda Indonesia’s new 777-300ER first class

Garuda-Indonesia-Executive-Class
Garuda Indonesia’s new 777-300ER executive class

Hell, they’re also the only airline I know of to offer onboard immigration.

Garuda-Indonesia-Onboard-Immigration

What I’m probably most excited about is the amount of service that Garuda Indonesia has to Bali, which is one of my favorite places in the world. They fly nonstop to Bali from many cities, including both Tokyo Narita and Tokyo Haneda. This will allow for easy one stop routings on SkyTeam from the US to Bali.

Redeeming SkyTeam miles for travel on Garuda Indonesia

I’ve phoned up both Delta SkyMiles and Korean Air SkyPass today to see if they have access to Garuda Indonesia award space yet. For Korean Air, Garuda Indonesia is still showing up under their partner award chart, while Delta can’t even see Garuda Indonesia award space (and for that matter both of the SkyMiles agents I spoke to had never heard of the airline before). After checking with their support desk they were told they hadn’t yet been given the correct fare codes for booking Garuda Indonesia awards, so hopefully that’s updated shortly.

Air France’s FlyingBlue website does show Garuda Indonesia award space, though this is because they’ve been partners since November, and not because they’ve joined SkyTeam.

Flying-Blue-Garuda

Award space is spectacular across the board, which is often the case when airlines first join an alliance. Their own members don’t have that many miles so award space is plentiful, though over time that tends to change.

Is it worth doing a Garuda Indonesia first class award?

I’ve read a review of Garuda Indonesia first class in the past, and it looks amazing. Once first class award availability is loaded it should be possible to book Garuda Indonesia first class using Korean Air SkyPass miles.

They offer a first class product on their route between Jakarta and Tokyo Narita, which for someone not totally up to date on Asian geography is deceivingly long — it’s further than New York to London.

The catch is that if redeeming SkyPass miles for travel on SkyTeam partner airlines, only roundtrip awards are allowed, and it would cost 100,000 SkyPass miles:

SkyPass-Garuda-Redemption-Chart

Is it worth burning that many SkyPass miles (transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards) for a roundtrip award in Garuda Indonesia first class?

Watch out Turkish Airlines, you have theme song competition!

Oh, there’s one other thing that makes Garuda Indonesia awesome. Their “theme song” is epic:

It starts off very Mariachi-ish, then goes cheesy cruise ship opera singer on us, before going downright churchy weddingy. It’s good stuff!

Comments

  1. It will be interesting to see if the Garuda FF programme becomes a useful sky team programme for us in Oz. we have lots of good ST redemption options out of Australia but not great earning opportunities. It looks like they are an ANZ and Amex MR transfer partner but maybe not for Australian cardmembers.

  2. aha OK, then UR for sure as they are much less valuable.
    maybe use 150K and travel to/from Europe? I wonder if CGK-NRT-ICN-Europe would be a valid routing.

  3. @ Lantean — That’s a great idea, and totally seems worth the 50% premium over flying to Tokyo. However, sadly as of now Garuda only flies their 777s (which feature first class) to Shanghai and Tokyo, as far as I know. London service is planned for later this year.

  4. right, i meant to combine Garuda and Korean on one award… like:

    CGK-NRT Garuda
    NRT-ICN Korean
    ICN-Europe Korean (possibly A380?)

    or is that invalid routing? I bet CGK-ICN-Europe all on Korean would be valid, no? so it may work…

  5. NrT CGK DPS and return. Easy peasy.

    I just did a DPS-JOG sector on GA. 1 hr flight on 737-800 in coach. Seat back ife and snack service. $76 each. I have a JOG-CGK-BKK sector coming up. Flying blue charges only 10k miles. Not too shabby.

    FDW

  6. Ah, now it makes sense as to why I heard “Garuda Indonesia, member of the SkyTeam Alliance” announced about a thousand times while waiting for my flight out of DPS yesterday.

    Lucky – that was my first trip to Bali and I had a great time. I can certainly see why it is one of your favorite places.

  7. When I called Delta’s Platinum line I was told it would be ONE TO THREE months before Garuda award flights would be available! 🙁

  8. Garuda will fly their 777 to Amsterdam in May, around the same time as their LGW flights kick off.

    Lucky, do you know if Flying Blue allows return F awards?

  9. How about F through their own FF program ? Whats their award chart like ? exchange partners ? Do they sell cheap miles like US DM miles ?

  10. Seems like Flying Blue web site shows availability but when clicking to choose the flight it appears nothing is available

  11. @ Mike S. — Best I can tell, it seems they charge 90,000 miles one-way for first class between Jakarta and Tokyo. Don’t see any promotions for purchasing miles with them either.

  12. @ Sam — Yeah, it definitely has an issue with displaying space. Based on inquiring about business class Garuda award space through Korean Air, award space is even better than what shows online.

  13. So using skypesos you could do something like this in J

    JFK-ICN-NRT (KE) – CGK/DPS (GA) return for 140K

  14. Ah Lucky, linking to another First Class report is not our style, is it? 😉
    Grab a longer one (LHR-CGK) in first for us, would ya? No ‘yawn and its over’ NRT 😀

  15. They are the only airline allowed to do international transfer at Bali, at least for the time being. Regardless my SE Aisa carrier of choice is Air Asia. Dealing with any Indonesian carriers is asking for hassle, though Garuda is the best.

  16. Safety, how quickly the forget it was barely 12 months ago they were allowed into European airspace and I don’t they are allowed into the USA yet. The old and new management have no idea, so how is a fully laden 777 going to take of from ANY Indonesia airport? CGK hasn’t even started a long promised upgrade to it’s runway. Therefore a non stop CGK-LHR is years away unless they reduce the passenger load by 22%, then again with their management????

  17. Air fares are so cheap (dangerously so) within Indonesia and SE Asia why would you waste points. If you are hubbing out of DSP then it’s Lion Air they have the best frequency, routes and haven’t had a news worthy crash for months?

  18. Mike S…To answer your question: ”

    Mike S. said,
    So using skypesos you could do something like this in J
    JFK-ICN-NRT (KE) – CGK/DPS (GA) return for 140K”

    I have close to this exactly itinerary already booked with DL Skymiles except no GA flights…either DL or KE flights. I would love to swap some KE flights for GA flights!

  19. Can you update us all when you know which SkyTeam partners are actually able to get Garuda award tickets? Specifically Delta if you find out?

  20. How is this better for DPS than Korean? Korean has lots of flights from USA to ICN and then connect to DPS.

    With Garuda, don’t you have to connect in Jakarta, adding one more stop?

    Can you do a stopover if you use Korean Points? Say I want to fly IAD-AMS and then connect to Garuda. Can I stop and visit AMS for a few days?

  21. @ farbster — It’s not better than Korean, but Korean does have a bunch of blackout dates and not amazing availability on their route to Bali, so it’s nice to have another option.

    The Garuda flights from Tokyo to Bali are nonstop — no connection in Jakarta required.

    Korean won’t let you fly from the US to Asia via Europe, to the best of my knowledge.

  22. @lucky – I forgot the premium Korean charges during certain parts of the year, in addition to blackout dates…

  23. @Lucky – I am the one who wrote the F report on CGK -NRT- CGK that you mentioned. I have to tell you I love it so much that I sometimes crave for my Garuda flight. FYI, Garuda has non-stop flights from NRT, KIX, HND and ICN to both DPS and CGK (CGK – HND – CGK) will start soon in June 0214.

    By the way, there is also a J report that I wrote and posted on SQTalk on CGK -SYD -CGK. Both F and J services on Garuda are truly impressive. You should really give them a try.

  24. By the way i just found out that GA have cancelled their plan to fly CGK-LGW route and instead replace it with CGK-AMS route (perhaps because of their entry to SkyTeam?) and later in September they’ll extend it to CGK-AMS-LGW. It’s worth noting that GA has planned to fly the LGW route since November last year and they postpone it to May because of technical problems, now they’ve given the hint that they will never fly the route direct, i actually find it to be kinda unprofessional, but it doesn’t turn off my desire to fly them in F though. Besides it’ll be easier to connect with KLM through AMS. Is it possible?

  25. @Andrew was it revenue ticket or award miles? if it award miles, what miles did you use to redeem it?

    @Lucky do you know if korean has the garuda f award loaded for cgk-nrt-cgk? where do i check the availability?

  26. @ Edy — You would have to call. Last time I called to ask was about a week after they joined SkyTeam, and as of then they only had economy and business class loaded. Hopefully they have it loaded by now, though.

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