Garuda Indonesia has what I’d consider to be the mileage deal of the decade at the moment, as they’re offering 90% off award tickets booked through the end of the year. Garuda Indonesia first class is incredible, so there’s potentially a lot of value to be had with this promotion. However, the GarudaMiles program as such can be quite confusing, so in this post I figured I’d share some of the things to be aware of if you’re considering taking advantage of this promotion, which are based on the questions I’ve seen asked so far.
In no particular order:
Sign-up for a Garuda miles account first
Before you get too far into this, sign up for a GarudaMiles account. This can be done on their website and the process is instant. Many people have issues with completing this form, so be aware that:
- If you’re American, look for “American” in the dropdown menu rather than “United States” for nationality
- Some people are having issues entering the city of their address; just leave the dropdown blank and enter the city name in the box next to it, and that should work
You have to reserve the 90% off awards by phone
Garuda Indonesia recently started allowing award tickets to be booked online, though these discounted awards can’t be booked online. So you’ll have to call Garuda’s call center at +62 21 2351 9999. You have to call their Indonesian number, as their U.S. call center can’t process this.
The call center should be well aware of this promotion, assuming you’re able to get in touch with someone. Unfortunately the phone system hangs up on people after the second call, so expect that you’ll have to call over and over. Eventually you should be connected.
Transfers from Citi ThankYou to GarudaMiles aren’t instant
The best way to get the miles needed for this award is through Citi ThankYou, as they’re transfer partners with GarudaMiles. However, points transfers aren’t instant, and it can take a couple of days. However, that’s not much of an issue, because…
Buying miles may not be as easy as it sounds
In theory you can buy miles directly from Garuda Indonesia, at the rate of three cents per mile. However, it looks like this process isn’t as straightforward as many of us had hoped. Unfortunately it’s not possible to do this online, and apparently you can only buy miles at their ticketing office in Jakarta.
Some people have been told that faxing in the order sheet will work, though that’s not an “official” policy.
So if at all possible I’d try to acquire the miles through Citi ThankYou, as that’s much more straightforward.
GarudaMiles lets you hold award tickets
The great news is that while points transfers from Citi ThankYou aren’t instant, GarudaMiles agents are letting people hold these award tickets. So you can call, put the ticket on hold for a week, and then transfer points.
You’ll have to show up in person to ticket your award
This is perhaps the most frustrating and bizarre part of this. Garuda Indonesia apparently requires you to show up at one of their city ticketing offices in order to ticket these reservation. They have several offices in the U.S., though you’ll have to make an appearance at one of them before the deadline. That’s super frustrating, but could well be worth it.
You technically need to show your original membership card
Technically the terms state that you will need to bring the original GarudaMiles membership card with you to the ticketing office, which seems highly restrictive. However, many people (including me) are being told that a copy of the online card will be fine, given that many of us just joined the program. However, it’s something to be aware of.
Personally I’d feel pretty comfortable that a copy of the online card would work at a ticketing office, given that many of us don’t have the card.
It’s not just first class awards that are on sale
All saver level flights on Garuda Indonesia “metal” are 90% off, so this isn’t just useful if you want to fly Garuda Indonesia first class from Jakarta to Amsterdam, London, Singapore, or Tokyo. Garuda Indonesia has a great business class product as well, and you can book that for 90% off.
This is the mileage deal of the decade
Garuda Indonesia first class is flippin’ amazing. If you are able to take advantage of this offer, it really is the deal of the decade. Redeeming 9,000-19,000 miles for a one-way first class ticket in one of the world’s best first class products is an astoundingly good value.
There are definitely some hoops you’ll have to jump through to take advantage of this offer, though assuming you live near one of Garuda Indonesia’s ticketing offices (or have the ability to fly to one, as I plan on doing), I’d really consider taking advantage of this offer. There’s no other program through which you can book Garuda Indonesia first class, so this really is a one time opportunity (well, unless they repeat this promotion, I suppose!).