Garuda Indonesia’s Incredible First Class Ground Services In London

Hello from somewhere between London and Jakarta, as I’m flying Garuda Indonesia first class at the moment. I’ll have a lot of thoughts about the flight shortly, but first have to share how impressed I was by Garuda’s ground services at Heathrow.

Garuda Indonesia departs from Terminal 3 at Heathrow, and unfortunately they don’t have their own lounge. That means they use the No1 Lounge, which is also a Priority Pass lounge.

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The airline only recently started flying to Heathrow, and I suspect they couldn’t work out an arrangement with another lounge.

On the surface it’s rather disappointing to use a Priority Pass lounge as an international first class customer.

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However, every other aspect of the experience was incredible. When we arrived at check-in we got in the first class line, and from the side a guy named Luke came up to us, addressed us by name, and explained he’d be watching after us until our flight left.

I found out he didn’t work for Garuda Indonesia, but rather for an outside ground services company that the airline contracts to. Furthermore, every first class party had their own representative (on this flight there were six first class passengers and four representatives).

He escorted us through security and brought us to a special cornered off area of the lounge.

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In that area of the lounge there’s proper service (a guy constantly came around to see if we wanted anything else), and also complimentary hot food, which you’d otherwise have to pay for in this lounge.

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Luke checked on us a couple of times during our stay (unfortunately our flight was delayed by over three hours, but the airline did a good job communicating that in advance), and then finally when the flight was ready for boarding he brought us to the gate, whisked us past the line, and onto the plane.

It’s damn impressive how much effort Garuda Indonesia puts into the first class ground experience, even at an airport where they don’t have a lot to work with. I’m guessing they couldn’t work out a deal with any of the airlines at Terminal 3, so a contract lounge is the best they could secure. Given the situation, they really do make the best of it.

While this is just the start of the experience, my first thought is that Garuda Indonesia has among the world’s most comprehensive ground service, perhaps only after Air France and Air India (I know that last one sounds crazy, but…). If this is the service that Garuda offers at an outstation, I can’t wait to see what service is like in Jakarta.

Stay tuned for more details on my Garuda experience. Flying with them really is a dream come true, as I’ve been wanting to fly them for so long.

Comments

  1. Ideally you should have started from Amsterdam where they stick you into a completely separate VIP lounge without having to go through customs and immigration, and get you to the plan in an A8.

  2. Fantastic to hear. Shortly after you booked your flight I did the same in F with Garuda. Though you have a three hour delay… I have a connecting flight with Garuda from Jakarta to Singapore… London to Jakarta and then Singapore. With a short Transit between Jakarta and Singapore, what might happen if my flight is delayed in London?!

  3. I had an awful Business Class fight when them in October 16 and emailed them but till date still not a reply. I am baffled as to how they can be 5 Star Skytrax when their customer service is atrocious

  4. @MattJ GA operates multiple daily flights for CGK-SIN. They’d just rebook you on the next flight to SIN. You’d end up on a 737 though but it’s a short flight

  5. Thanks DavidW.

    I’m happy I stay over night in SIN returning to Perth.

    There is no F on any of their flights to SIN are there? As I’m book F all the way London to CGK to SIN…

  6. @MattJ
    What David said. GA flies 9 daily to SIN: first flight at 620am, last flight at 830pm. Worst case scenario 3 hour delay puts you in an overnight hotel in CGK.

  7. Are you sure they did not know you as a famous travel blogger? Just want to make sure they are not doing more just because it is you.

  8. @Santastico

    It is definitely possible, however, interesting how these comments come up every time Lucky has a good experience…yet seem to disappear when he has a bad or “meh” experience. Guess it’s easier to pick and choose when you want to critique…

    Peace out.

  9. And on a recent flight on Cathay pacific from Lax the first class passengers had to line up at the gate like the economy passengers.

  10. @ron

    If it’s you, I’ve just read your review on your AMS experience with Garuda in F.

    Amazing, I’m really looking forward to flying to Garuda and reading Lucky’s review too!

  11. The F lounge in Jakarta is just a separate reserved room in the business class lounge with the same food / drink selection. But the ground service is pretty good. After check-in you are taken directly to the lounge skipping immigration. An immigration officer comes to you in the lounge and checks your documents.

  12. @Bobby H: I am not saying he has a special treatment but it would be nice to see what others experience was. Addressed by name on the check-in line??? Hum, that is suspicious. I really hope that Garuda just does this all the time to everyone.

  13. @Santastico

    The other web reviews of Garuda First are remarkably similar, so I doubt Ben got any preferential treatment. I direct you to SFO777, who is hardly well known outside of the blogosphere, and his Garuda experience of a few weeks ago.

  14. @Santastico, didn’t Lucky say there were 4 people covering the 6 first class passengers? That would lead one to assume there were 2 couples together (Lucky being one of them) and 2 solo flyers. I understand that he can easily be given extra attention/service based on his profession though he isn’t actively seeking it out, but in this case I don’t think these comments are warranted as the other couple had a person, each individual had their own person.

  15. Lucky, tell me please does Ford own that really cool Rimowa Limbo bag? I’m jealous…beautiful bag. You need to pick-up your game from your Tumi!

  16. They used to be at LHR T4. They could have contracted Etihad’s lounge there, since other SkyTeam members also use that lounge. I don’t know why they decided to transfer to T3. And I don’t think it’s feasible for Garuda to open their own lounge at LHR, since it’s not even a focus destination. They don’t even have a dedicated lounge at AMS even though it’s their flagship destination.

    They will also soon open a newer and larger lounge at CGK T3 since it just opened this year. But as of the moment, it’s only operational for domestic flights.

  17. I am not familiar with the Lounge. Does the Lounge have good shower and napping room? Based on your writing, it seems the hard ground service product is not good and below par for First Class, but the service is exceptional. Isn’t it?

  18. I have flown Singapore Airlines several times, in First, Business and Economy on several routes and they are suppose to be a 5 Star airline.
    My First Class Flight out of LAX was cancelled and missed a very important meeting in Singapore.
    In our recent flight to Thailand via Singapore, we had to deal with lost luggage for many days and it was still not delivered and we had to fly to Maldives from Phuket.
    Although we were promised by two Pursers on the flights that they had documented these situations and we would be assisted.
    However to this day, I still have not heard from anyone from Singapore Airlines.
    No compensation, no discount voucher, no nothing.
    Those pursers also lied to us that they could not offer us any compensation knowing that we did not get our complimentary upgrade and our luggage was lost at some point when we were leaving Narita on SQ 11 to Singapore. The purser could have issued a Duty free voucher on the spot and he refused to do it, not even a $50 dollar voucher. I was offered a $100 dollar voucher for a previous broken entertainment, although I refused the offer hoping that I would get some miles which did not happen.
    So, someone said that Garuda did not get back to them. Well, best of luck…
    We have flown Singapore Airlines multiple times and with several issues and never ever any sort of compensation. Even a broken seat caused me to break my pinky toe on a flight from Istanbul to Singapore 4 years ago and nothing. That flight was cancelled the day I was suppose to fly and Singapore pushed my flight to an earlier date (I was booked in Business) and It took me hours and hours and multiple emails to get them to push my trip to a later date. I was in Istanbul for a Valentines day party and they wanted me to leave early.
    Some airlines simply do not care about their customers and Singapore Airlines fit in that place along with Alitalia, Air France, American and British Airways.
    Should I go to small claims court?
    Perhaps someone from Singapore Airlines will read this and will get back to me.
    Thank you,
    AlanLouganis@yahoo.com

  19. @Credit – CX unfortunately boards F and J at the same time everywhere and it’s really disappointing. I was one time in F, sent to the back of a very long line.

  20. @Singularity – unfortunately garuda is not having any dedicated lounge outside Indonesia. In Singapore when they fly really often in a day they still contracted with dnata lounge in terminal 3 changi. so does in Sydney, but in sydney they are using the skyteam lounge.

  21. I am now waiting for GA87 to board, and am being looked after by Luke as well. He is uber professional, friendly and efficient indeed!!

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