Garuda Indonesia To Start Flying To The US In 2017

When it comes to airlines which have undergone an incredible transformation, Garuda Indonesia ranks near the top. Garuda Indonesia has gone from an airline with a pretty bad safety record and service reputation to one which has done an incredible job refreshing their fleet, focusing on safety, and improving their product and service. As a matter of fact, Garuda Indonesia is one of the few Skytrax 5-star airlines (not that I put all that much weight on their rankings).

Skytrax-Five-Stars

Garuda Indonesia is the airline with the first class product I most want to fly, as I haven’t yet had the chance to experience it. Their new Boeing 777-300ERs look gorgeous, with an awesome first & business class product.

Contributor Nick reviewed Garuda Indonesia first class on the short hop from Amsterdam to London last year, and it looked incredible (though they’ve discontinued this route in the meantime).

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0048.
Garuda Indonesia first class, per my friend @kellydaoud

Garuda Indonesia doesn’t operate any flights to the US at the moment, perhaps largely because they’re not allowed to due to the country’s aviation safety rating. However, Indonesian authorities are hoping to get upgraded to a Category 1 safety rating with the FAA, which they’re expected to be able to secure, given how much progress the country (and airlines) have made.

With that in mind, Garuda Indonesia is planning on launching flights between Jakarta and Los Angeles, via Tokyo Narita, as of 2017. Per the Centre for Aviation:

Garuda Indonesia is preparing to launch flights to Los Angeles in 2017, contingent on Indonesian authorities securing an expected upgrade from the US FAA to a Category 1 safety rating. US flights represent the biggest – and riskiest – step in an overall strategic initiative by Garuda to boost its international presence.

Garuda was initially hoping to serve Jakarta-Los Angeles nonstop, which would enable it to differentiate its product. However, Garuda now realises that it will at least initially have to settle on a one-stop product via Tokyo. Garuda will benefit from the ability to carry local passengers between the Japan and the US, but Tokyo-Los Angeles is an extremely competitive route.

The fact that the flight will operate via Tokyo Narita is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing since you’d be able to fly Garuda Indonesia exclusively between Los Angeles and Tokyo Narita, which is great if you don’t want to go to Jakarta. Besides, Tokyo Narita is right on the way between Los Angeles and Jakarta.

LAX-Garuda-Indonesia

However, it’s also a bit of a curse, since it eliminates any competitive advantage that Garuda Indonesia would have in carrying passengers between Los Angeles and Jakarta. Air China, All Nippon Airways, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, EVA Air, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, etc., all offer one stop service between Los Angeles and Jakarta.

So while I’d love to see Garuda Indonesia start service to the US (simply because they seem to have a great product), I’m sort of scratching my head as to how they’d hope to make money. It’s really tough to turn profits on flights to Asia which are operated with a stop, since the “home” carriers don’t have a competitive advantage, and therefore don’t have much pricing power. While the US airlines are doing quite well at the moment, as of last year Singapore Airlines had been losing money on almost all of their longhaul flights for the past six years.

Given the distance between Los Angeles and Jakarta, and the fares in the market, I can’t imagine Garuda would do much better.

Bottom line

Obviously there are a lot of questions about this new route, the first of which is whether Indonesia can get their safety rating elevated to the point that they can fly to the US. Beyond that, I’m curious whether they’d operate the flight with a Boeing 777 (with first class) or an Airbus A330 (without first class).

Regardless, this flight would be a great use of Delta SkyMiles in business class. Too bad there’s no easy way to redeem miles for Garuda Indonesia first class (even Korean Air SkyPass miles can’t be redeemed for Garuda first class).

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0050.
Garuda Indonesia first class, per my friend @kellydaoud

Do you think Garuda Indonesia will follow through with service to the US, and if so, do you plan on flying with them?

Comments

  1. Finally, I was expecting them to start flying to the USA and I’m still excited! I will definitely fly them if I have to fly from LAX to NRT

  2. Why not transfer Citi TY points to Garuda and redeem for first class direct with their program?

  3. They’d have to do LAX-NRT on an A332, I don’t think an A333 will cut it.

    If you’re going to be taking a bath on the route, I suspect 36J/186Y (A332) works better than 8F/38J/268 Y (77W). It sounds like Garuda will have some A332s with BE Super Diamond seating, according to Wikipedia, so at least they’d have a decent C hard product in the market?

  4. Garuda is definitely on the to-do list. I really enjoy Indonesia and would love to explore more of the country.

    For me personally from DFW, this would require 2 stops to Jakarta in LAX and NRT. Currently the best way to get there is JAL via DFW>NRT>CGK.

  5. This is great news for those of us with DL miles to burn, given the state of the DL/KE relationship and the availability of J awards on KE to DL members.

  6. Yes, why not transfer points from City Thankyou? CGK-AMS/LHR will cost 190k (!) miles in first class, but it may be worth. You can lower that to 90k points on AUH-AMS or CGK-NRT routes. Come on, Lucky, for all the new business class flights you are taking you deserve an exciting new first class.
    The big pain in the neck will be the redeeming process: https://garudamiles.com/TopHome/redeem-miles/fly/garuda-indonesia/. It makes Korean process a piece of cake.

  7. There’s already 9 daily flights LAX-TYO – is there really a market for a 7th? The only reason I can think of why this might work is because of the 9 flights, only 1 is Skyteam – Delta.

    Why not operate LAX-HKG? That’s only operated by CX (soon AA) and that’s all oneworld.

  8. Malaysia couldn’t make this route work, I wonder why Garuda thinks they can. I always wonder why the airlines that can’t do it direct based on distance always choose Narita. Even Korean used to have a flight from LAX-NRT that they discontinued!

  9. I flew CGK-AMS-LGW and back earlier this year in F.
    Totally worth it. The hard product is excellent, but even more impressive is the service (and the food — wow!). It’s a shame they’ve done away with the Amsterdam stopover, as there is a Mercedes-on-the-tarmac transfer to a secret first class lounge.
    Excellent ground service everywhere, with ground staff to escort one from the plane, to/from lounge, through security and all the way to the car door.

  10. Just thought I’d throw it out there, NRT to DPS which is operated by a 777 that has first class is pricing out at 3500 for all of July ROUND TRIP.

  11. DL is cancelling LAX-NRT on Oct 30 (replacing it with daytime HND flight), while SQ is removing the A380 from the route, so this should make up for some of that upcoming capacity loss.

  12. +1 David W and Mark – I have to believe there’s a lesser-served market that would be a better choice for the stop.

  13. Whoa, how many airlines already serve LAX-NRT? By my count, there’s UA, AA, DL, NH, JL, and SQ, so Garuda would be the 7th carrier! Not to mention the LAX-HND routes…

  14. I am not typically one to be afraid of flying (I have even flown Air Koryo), however personally would wait a few more years before flying Garuda. Indonesian airline safety has historically been the worst in the world. The last crash was 9 years ago, but equally they had no crashes between 87 and 96.

  15. 38 million people live in the Tokyo metro! ..so not even taking transfer pax into consideration. 9 flights a day is not that much. LAX-TYO is a huge premium travel market where F class sells very well. DL offers a substandard (not saying crap) product on the route compared to the others.

    DL switching has to do with better O&D. The SQ switch has nothing to do with yields on the route…more so upping frequency and better aircraft utilization by switching the A388 to SIN-LHR.

    I’m not sure why everyone is so shocked over this level of service and any increases!

  16. I will be flying the exact same route CGK-NRT-LAX in JL F on AA miles this October. Hope JL does not pull F from CGK route by then.

  17. I agree with @LuckyOz’comments! Indonesia is very close to Oz. I can still remember these Garuda crash! New aircrafts, Yes! Service improved Yes! But same pilots and crews! I agree I would wait for couple of years!

    Btw, Ben which skyteam FFP is the best for first and business award tickets? Sounds like Korean Air is the winner!

  18. I think CGK or DPS – TPE- LAX or SFO by EVA is a better choice . EVA wins the 5 star airline this year and it’s safe record is nearly perfect.

  19. I’ll just point out for old time’s sake that back when Garuda cut service to LAX in 1997 or so they were flying MD11s, going Jakarta-Denpasar-Biak(look it up)-Honolulu-Los Angeles. I’m not sure why they’re resurrecting a route to LAX, though back when the used to fly to LA it was considered by some to be a “prestige” route, so maybe there’s still some of that?

    I flew Garuda CGK-YOG-CGK-BKK in October, it was perfectly adequate in regional business class (think old-timey thickly cushioned US domestic first class seats from the 80s, but with PTVs at each one).

  20. @Harold Blood
    you have to experience it by yourself, the ground service at CGK away better than couple years ago, and starting this June, GA will use the new terminal T3-Ultimate – which is awesome. And yes, if you’re flying either First or Business Class you don’t need to claim your own baggage, it will be deliver right to you while you waiting in exceptional arrival lounge for First Class/Business Class. As First Class passenger, you will transfer from your door to the airport using private Mercedes Benz. And they do good at it! Have you flown with GA’s F Class before?

  21. I hope it has improved. It has been a few years now since one of its pilots was convicted of murdering a passenger by putting arsenic in orange juice (JKT-SIN). Also, it’s quite a while since they tried to land at Essendon by mistake rather than Tullamarine in MEL . Few crashes these days: internationally not since Fukuoka when the cabin crew fled across the Tarmac from the crash landing , leaving passengers to fend for themselves.

  22. Air China isnt one stop between CGK and LAX: the daily Air China Jakarta Beijing service stops in Xiamen to refuel.

    Also, technically Manila would’ve been a better choice: it’s a more direct route than NRT, but there likely isnt as much demand.

  23. To all the commenters here having opinions on Garuda without probably ever flying it: try it.
    I fly them regularly and rate their long haul above anyone else. AF can match them almost on First, not on BC. Regionally they are on par with SQ and the ME3.

  24. IDK how well it would do, but PVG might work, 2 of Garuda’s partners already fly that route, (Delta and China Eastern) and it’s also a pretty high capacity route, with tourism in China, and Chinese people visiting the US. There generally also isn’t anything good to fly between PVG and LAX. Don’t know how beneficial it might be, but I would like to see it happen, since China to the US is a huge market, but with mediocre airlines flying the routes.

  25. @wim
    I spoke with an aviation engineer expert recently and he stated that he would never fly garuda given there is questionable behavior when it comes to maintenance and he apparently worked in southern asia

  26. “I spoke with an aviation engineer expert recently and he stated that he would never fly garuda given there is questionable behavior when it comes to maintenance and he apparently worked in southern asia”

    Well…put it this way, *I* work in aviation safety and they are the only Indonesian airline that I would set foot on. That’s a pretty common view in the aviation safety community. Five or ten years ago? Yeah, there’s no way most people familiar with them would have flown with Garuda but as of late they have really done their best to improve things.

    Still, given my choice, I am going to fly with CPA or one of the other carriers but I would not really get too concerned if my company booked me on one of Garuda’s jets.

  27. @Andy
    China is very strict about fifth freedom flights through its country. It doesn’t allow foreign carriers to fly between China and the US.

  28. According to the latest news, GA targets to operate this route by June 2017 the latest. Many suggest that this move was very bold and furious given GA would have to compete with other high volume carriers in the trans pacific route.

    However, there is still opportunity for GA to build NRT as their hub given they operate DPS-NRT sector which makes GA will be able to sell one stop transit to Bali from Los Angeles.. And secondly, the route will be 3x weekly..this route is indeed attractive for leisure sectors only.

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