Encore: Garuda Indonesia’s First Class Ground Services Impress Again!

Last week I shared the details of my Garuda Indonesia first class journey from London to Jakarta, including the incredible ground experience in London, the spectacular onboard experience on the 14 hour flight to Jakarta, and the arrival experience in Jakarta.

After a few days in Jakarta we flew back to London, though that flight stops in Singapore. That’s because the plane isn’t capable of taking off from Jakarta with enough fuel to fly nonstop to London, due to the runway conditions (though oddly it can fly nonstop to Amsterdam, which is just ~200 miles shorter).

Anyway, while I’ll have a detailed trip report soon, I couldn’t help but share more details of the ground experience we had on the return from Jakarta. Could it really be as good as on the outbound flight?

Yep, it sure was!

We were picked up at our hotel in Jakarta in a Toyota Alphard, which is a service that’s included as a Garuda Indonesia first class passenger. Since our flight was leaving Jakarta at around 7AM, there was no traffic so early in the morning.

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The second we pulled up to the airport we were greeted by Dea and Freddie, who would be taking care of us until we boarded our flight. While Jakarta Airport is pretty dumpy, Garuda’s setup is brilliant. The entrance to the lounge is located just inside the entrance near the check-in counters, and you clear security at the individual gate.

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So we were escorted there, and for the next two hours had the lounge to ourselves. Freddie and Dea waited for us at the top of the escalator and came by periodically to see if we needed anything. There was also a separate server in the first class lounge.

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The lounge itself was solid, though I wouldn’t say it’s one of the world’s top few lounges, purely in terms of the physical space (however, the overall ground experience definitely is). While the lounge had a restaurant, we decided to save our appetite for onboard.

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My one disappointment in the ground experience was that Garuda Indonesia advertises there being a spa for first class passengers. As it turns out, the “spa” is simply a foot reflexology machine in the business class lounge (and by “foot reflexology machine” I mean something you put your feet on that vibrates).

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Dea and Freddie asked whether we wanted to board first or last. I said first, and sure enough they came to fetch us about 30 minutes before departure. The walk to the gate was short, and there was a security check there.

The service was incredible, as the porter took our bags and had them screened for us, while we could go straight onto the plane. Furthermore, they took the “first to board” thing very seriously, because they quite literally started general boarding just moments after we boarded, so it’s clear that they were waiting for us. We got some evil glares when we entered the gate area.

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The flight to Singapore took just over an hour, and in Singapore we only had about an hourlong transit. Passengers have to get off the plane in Singapore, though once we got off the plane there was a Garuda Indonesia representative waiting for us, named Saddiq. He proceeded to drive us in a golf cart to the lounge.

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There was only one other first class passenger, though amazingly enough they got a separate golf cart for her, and she also had her own representative. The representative said that if we wanted to go duty free shopping he could drive us around — LOL!

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Garuda uses the Dnata Lounge in Singapore, which isn’t great, though there’s a small roped off first class section, so at least they try.

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We were asked if we wanted to be first or last to board, and this time around we elected to be last. Sure enough, he only came to fetch us a few minutes before departure time, and we were quite literally the last people on the plane. Again, he insisted on carrying our bags all the way to the overhead bin.

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On arrival in London we were once again greeted by a representative who escorted us to immigration.

It’s absolutely incredible the degree to which Garuda Indonesia takes care of their passengers throughout the journey. It’s one thing to have amazing ground handling at your hub (as Air France, Air India, and Thai Airways do), but to have such seamless service throughout the journey really sets Garuda Indonesia apart.

Comments

  1. Between Air France, Garuda Indonesia, and Korean Air, it’s kind of unexpected to see SkyTeam having developed some of the best First Class products in the world. Well done.

  2. Good to know you loved the service. From the pic, it looks like you stayed at the Keraton hotel. BEST hotel ever!!!

  3. So Garuda First Class ground service in Singapore is better than SQ First Class ground service in their own hub? Amazing. Just amazing.

    I flew SQ First Class from HK to Jakarta with a stop over in Singapore earlier this year. Once off the plane there was no one to meet any of the First Class passengers and we all had to walk and find the First Class lounge on our own. Then we had to figure out on our own when was the time to head to the airplane and then walk all the way to the boarding gate ourselves. In other words SQ (other than the lounge attendants), SQ provides vastly inferior/zero ground service. It is pathetic that SQ would not step up to the competition.

  4. Their “spa” literally made me LOL. As someone who’s had their fair share of treatments in the Air France La Premiere lounge, I think I’d simply be bewildered at their idea of a spa. Also, the décor looks very 1970’s/80’s. What’s interesting to me about this airline is that if you decoupled the ground “hard” and “soft” products, Garuda would be a solid B (A+ for soft and C- for hard).

  5. For all the “equality” professed by Americans, they wouldn’t mind being treated like the king or queen and having a few slaves. Even better if they actually had the power to go with it.
    Everyone loves it when they get waited hand and foot in Asia, while they would have to lug it themselves in the first world.

  6. Did they just escort you TO immigration in London, or THROUGH immigration? It would be great to get to the front of the line and no waiting at all, versus just an escort to FastTrack, where there’s always a line, albeit short.

  7. Seems like Garuda’s definition of spa is a bit different…… a lot

    Spectacular ground service overall

  8. In case anyone tries to argue that Lucky’s status as a blogger got him this treatment, let me say that I flew Garuda F from London to Jakarta earlier this week and my treatment was just as fabulous. Not only did two assistants meet me and speed me through immigration and customs, they took me all the way to the new terminal 3, then sat and waited for over an hour until it was time to board my connecting domestic flight. They escorted me on to the plane then introduced me to the two FAs and made sure I was settled before they left. Garuda F is phenomenal. My GA assistants mentioned that they are building a special F lounge in the new terminal 3, so I hope that means they are committed to keeping the cabin. The business lounge in T3 was very pleasant, and even had a mini movie theatre.

  9. Yes, the terminal that Lucky landed on is the old and dumpy terminal. Thankfully they have almost completed their brand new state of the art terminal that should be as nice as all of the other modern terminals in Asia. Once completed, Garuda’s First Class lounge should be able to hold its own against the other First Class lounges in Asia.

  10. Sounds like lucky just continues his silver spoon treatment.
    Its disgraceful that one human being can derive such pleasure from the peasants that serve you!
    Truly vile response bearing in mind these staff would be treated like subhumans/slaves.
    Sickening is the only word to describe your obvious delight of such treatment.
    Shame on you!

  11. The Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam is not always nonstop. If you check FlightRadar24 there are times it also stops at Singapore.

  12. No i dont live in Russia, but i just about to turn 20. I don’t think any one individual can have so much enjoyment out of service from other people. We should be shamed as our attitude towards the rest of world, we are the problem. That said, i have to come & read Lucky’s trip report daily to secretly wish one day I’ll sign up a lot of credit cards so i can fly in first class and stay at St Regis. But i will not openly acknowledge my enjoyment because that’s not politically correct for those service personnel.

  13. It is consistent. I had a few flights in GA F and had a similar experience, also in AMS. The only other one coming close is AF.
    SQ F is definitely disappointing. I did LAX-SIN some months back and it was totally unmemorable.

  14. It’s great to hear that the ground service makes for such a seamless experience during the technical stop.

    Flying TG, for example, I’ve had quite variable experiences. I’m still not sure what the criteria are for getting a buggy.

    Everything I’m reading points to GA being consistent in their delivery of F service, which is exactly how it should be. Every time you post about GA F I get more and more excited for my own trip next year!

  15. @Lucky
    Are you sure, that the chair is the only Spa service provided? Garuda states on the website aldo, you rrpresenrative can help with reservations for the spa service, which clearly is not necessary for just the chair, lol. Did you ask about the Spa?

    @dr bongo
    Even at the age of 20 you should have enough manners to see how rediculous it is to critize the “political correctness” of Lucky’s pleasure about service and to make clearly rassistic statements just minutes later. So shut up and learn about political correct behavior first.

  16. @Jason

    I’m so sorry to hear you had to walk yourself, find the first class lounge on your own AND then figure out how to get to the gate by yourself too.

    Sounds like a truly horrific experience, but take solace from the fact that you are an inspiration to myself and countless other for having got through it and living to tell the tale!

  17. @Zach

    AF uses the VIP lounge for which you have to go through immigration. I found it cumbersome for a 1 hour stopover to go twice through immigration

  18. Dr Bongo professes empathy and compassion for the downtrodden yet yells at those with whom he disagrees to “go back to Africa.” Love it!

  19. @ Jacinda
    correct and right comment. And this rassist and homophobe dr bongo wants to tell others about political correctness, lol…

  20. @ Jacinda @ Chilangoflyer Have some pity for Dr Bongo. He’s too young to have ever met his Messiah, Pol Pot. He wanted to join ISIS, but they said he had to cut his dreadlocks, put away his didgeridoo and quit boofing 2cb.

  21. Ground services are all fine and well, but where are the trip reports? We always have to wait so long for them.

  22. Garudas safety record is horrible. I would only fly them within Indonesia as a necessity. The reason the flight stops in Singapore is likely safety and security screening related. That is why there is no non-stop flights from Bali-US, the local governments can’t be trusted in the screening process. This airline is not in the same class as Thai and Singapore.

  23. This is what first class service should be like, such a shame that BA don’t take a leaf out of Garuda’s book. Such is their complacency (or is that contempt?) that their ‘priority’ boarding means that if you’re travelling First or Business, you have to wait until economy passengers with children board first.

    Always received far better service from other airlines.

  24. Our LHR-CGK flight was cancelled on 17DEC and first class treatment was just awful. Our first class guide disappeared and we were left with the business class passengers. They loaded us onto coaches and we drove 30 minutes to Marlowe (in the middle of nowhere) to an awful Crowne Plaza. There was basically no communication as to when the flight would leave and if meals are covered or not (turns out they only cover 15 GBP per person from room service). Room service took 2 hours because the hotel wasn’t prepared to deal with the influx of people and all local restaurants were closed. The first class phone line didn’t even know the flight was cancelled and said there was nothing they could do to rebook on other airlines or to provide compensation.

    GA may be a great airline when things are running smoothly but their irrops handling is one of the worst I have ever experienced at any airline.

  25. @Omar – if you are referring to the flight on Dec 17, 2016, #GA87, that one was 2hr 24min delayed (don’t know the reason) but not cancelled (airborne at 10:39pm instead of 8:15). So not sure why the panic in bringing you guys up to a hotel? Bit weird.

    Maybe that’s also why the confusion from the GA customer services regarding rebooking/compensations etc., they, on the line, had no idea, prior your call, you were taken away from the airport due to cancellation of the flt…???

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