The Most Luxurious Intra-Europe Flight Is Being Cut

The one airline I haven’t yet flown in first class which I’m dying to try is Garuda Indonesia. They’re an airline which has undergone an incredible transformation, and their 777-300ERs look industry leading. Not only do they have a great first class hard product, but the soft product apparently puts even other top airlines to shame.

One of the awesome things about Garuda is that they operate a flight between Jakarta and London Gatwick, which stops in Amsterdam. The best part is that you can book a tag flight exclusively between Amsterdam and London, which is actually quite reasonably priced in both first & business class. Nick even reviewed the Amsterdam to London flight in first class a few months back, and suffice to say I’d love to fly them sometime.

Garuda Indonesia seat 1A

Well, unfortunately it looks like the days of Garuda Indonesia’s Amsterdam to London Gatwick flight are numbered, as they’ll be discontinuing the flight in March 2016.

Via ch-aviation.com:

  • Garuda Indonesia has secured slots at London Heathrow Airport, which they plan on serving in favor of London Gatwick
  • They plan on “decoupling” the Amsterdam and London flights, and instead operating separate flights from Jakarta to Amsterdam and Jakarta to London
  • Due to runway restrictions at Jakarta’s Airport, the Jakarta to London flight will operate via Singapore, though eventually it will become nonstop

Garuda-Europe

I suppose while the Amsterdam to London tag flight dies, it opens up a new opportunity to try Garuda Indonesia shorthaul, between Jakarta and Singapore (at least for some amount of time).

Jakarta to Singapore is a super exciting market, though, as it’s also operated by Air France, and it’s one of the routes featuring their new first class product. Perhaps it’s time to fly roundtrip between Jakarta and Singapore on Air France one way and Garuda Indonesia the other way. 😉

Air-France-First-Business-Class-43

The schedules haven’t actually been updated to reflect the above changes, so it’s still subject to change. Though if you want to know for sure you’ll be able to try Garuda Indonesia between Amsterdam and London, I’d suggest booking on the flight in the next few months.

Bottom line

While you can redeem SkyTeam miles for Garuda Indonesia business class, I wish there were a better way to redeem for first class. I’m sad to see the Amsterdam to London flight on the way out, though if the prices are reasonable between Jakarta and Singapore, I suppose it’s not that huge of a loss.

Have you had the chance to fly Garuda Indonesia in a premium cabin? If so, what was your experience like?

(Tip of the hat to W)

Comments

  1. Both are booked in coming months. Pretty excited about it! Still bumped about Oman Air’s “old business class” is gone between MCT-BKK.

  2. “Due to runway restrictions at Jakarta’s Airport, the Jakarta to London flight will operate via Singapore.”

    What does that mean? A plane is a plane. How does the runway know whether it’s bound for LHR or SIN — what difference does it make?

  3. Re the runway restriction, I think it means that the runway is not long enough if the 77W is filled to the brim to make it to London, so they stop over in Singapore to top it off. Just my guess – what do other people think?

  4. So this is why I couldn’t book the AMS to LGW in June. Folks in the Ask Lucky tried to help me out a few weeks back, but no luck. Blerg!

  5. @Josh
    The Jakarta’s runway is said not to be strong enough to handle the plane full of gasoline for LHR. It is too heavy for it.
    Garuda has then choosen to refuel in SIN.
    Jakarta airport has to do some work on the runway.
    One day the flight will be direct.

  6. Flew a few regional segments with them in business last month, nothing remarkable to report, hard product akin to US domestic first, though with a ver good entertainment selection.

    Service akin to CX and SQ regional biz, pretty good, nothing extravagant.

  7. I think GA is indeed better off keeping CGK-SIN-LHR in the long run n not go direct. SIN-LHR should have much better traffic than CGK-LHR direct; and there shld be enough traffic between SIN-CGK.

  8. Flew GA this year from Denpasar to Syndey in business cabin. Have to say I was impressed. Although it was an angle-flat seat, the cabin was super clean/new. Very ‘on it’ crew and decent food. Particularly liked that GA values premium traveler’s time on the ground–and provideds excellent fast track services both for departure and arrivals (including customs/immigration in Sydney).

    As a US-based flier, sometimes foreign carrier seem, well, foreign. Flying with Garuda was a very pleasant surprise.

  9. Agree with @Flyingfish that LHR-SIN seems to make a lot of sense for premium traffic especially, so they should stick with that.

  10. I would not recommend limiting it to CGK-SIN only as you will be missing the special experience part in Paris or Amsterdam.

  11. Don’t forget Singapore MAN-MUC service. There is also LAN FRA-MAD (and return) on their new Dreaminer, although no First class. Their Business product is ok though

  12. As far as the stop over in Singapore is concerned, it’s due to the fact that the runway in Jakarta is too short to handle an airplane that heavy. The T/O weight of the airplane directly affects how long a T/O roll it will have, so it is possible that in order to fly all the way to London, the weight of all that fuel makes the roll too long for Jak’s runway which is 10,500 (ish) feet long. Singapore’s are over 13,000 feet each.

  13. @bob
    The exact term is not direct, it’s nonstop. Under the same flight number, I could make a plane fly London-Paris-Frankfurt-Los Angeles, and it would still count as direct.

  14. @Josh
    Apparently the runway isnt strong enough to handle a full 777 and gas to London. The runway restriction was the last straw that changed the original flight from nonstop to via AMS, and also why they do a via SIN run twice a week.

  15. Has it been announced whether GA will have 5th Freedom rights to sell SIN-LHR? If not, I’d expect them not to sell CGK-SIN, especially if they’re treating it as a technical stop on a CGK-SIN-LHR-CGK RT.

  16. Doesn’t look like it’ll pick up passengers in SIN.

    “Singapore has attempted to conclude an open skies agreement with Australia since 1996, but was met with numerous obstacles. There are similar hurdles trying to conclude OSAs with other countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, mostly due to protectionist stances and a fear that it will not be a balanced agreement.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation_in_Singapore

  17. @malthus
    Well the current GA88 service via SIN is sold as three segments, and both CGK SIN and SIN AMS can be booked, so I’d expect this to be as well.

    Also, according to the CAPA report, the new service to LHR is four weekly, arriving in the evening, not one of the more ubiquitous morning slots.

  18. GA is curently flying cgk – sin route using 77w for their cgk-sin-ams-cgk route.
    Unfortunately they dont sell the first class seat just for cgk-sin segment.
    I was on garuda F earlier this month using mileage on dps-nrt and it was one of the best flight i ever been.

  19. I flew Garuda 777 from Jakarta to Amsterdam to Gatwick in June and back Amsterdam to Jakarta in July and in the air they are really excellent. The lounges and on the ground in Indonesia in particular leave a bit to be desired.

    And the reason for the stop between Jakarta and London either Singapore or Amsterdam I was told that the runway in Jakarta wasn’t long enough or strong enough? to take a fully loaded 777 with enough fuel to fly non-stop to the UK, though they must have enough fuel for alternative airports if Amsterdam wasn’t available.

  20. Ah that’s unfortunate but if it makes sense for Garuda then so be it. I flew LGW-AMS r/t with Garuda last year and really enjoyed the experience. I’ll admit though that when I first read the title I thought you meant the BA flight on LHR-DME route. From what I’ve read, they served caviar in F for that route though given the recent Russian economy, I wouldn’t be surprised if BA cuts F service on that route.
    Anyway, I look forward reading your GA F experience soon!

  21. Press release from Garuda announces the official availability date of new service:

    Garuda Indonesia Announces London Heathrow as the New Home in the UK

    As part of the airline’s efforts to further strengthen its international network, especially in Europe, Garuda Indonesia marked its 50th anniversary of services to Singapore by announcing a one way non-stop direct flight from Singapore to London Heathrow starting from March 31, onwards.

    The five-star airline will move its UK home to London Heathrow from where it will operate non-stop flights from London to Jakarta for the first time and one-stop flights from Jakarta to London. In tandem with the move, the Indonesian flag carrier will increase its service frequency to five times per week, departing every other day except on Mondays and Fridays.

    The change will allow the airline and passengers to take full advantage of the SkyTeam facilities available at Heathrow, including the SkyTeam Lounge housed at Terminal 4. Heathrow’s pivotal role in servicing the alliance’s 1,052 destinations makes it an ideal departure airport for Garuda Indonesia’s passengers. Flying directly to Jakarta means the airline will truly be the most efficient way of travelling to Indonesia from the UK.

  22. I’ve just booked 2 tickets to Bali in via Jakarta in October , and the schedule was still ex Lgw via Ams , admittedly only available 3 times per week .
    When I was looking for these flights there was never any mention of an Lhr departure, on any day.
    Any chance we’ll be switched to the faster routing ?

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