Introduction: Christmas Markets With A Touch Of Garuda
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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class 777-300ER London To Jakarta
Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class Arrivals & Chauffeur Service Jakarta
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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class Lounge Jakarta
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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class 777-300ER Singapore To London
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Garuda Indonesia 87
London (LHR) – Jakarta (CGK)
Tuesday, December 6
Arrive: 5:05PM (+1 day)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 2D (First Class)
Have you ever boarded a flight and known from the very first second that the crew would be amazing? Well, this was one of those flights. At the door we were welcomed by all four first class crew members — Oktaviana, Septi, Henny, and Aziz — with the warmest imaginable smiles and a “welcome aboard, please let me show you to your seat.”
The three ladies had gorgeous uniforms on, all in different colors.
Garuda Indonesia’s 777 first class cabin consists of a total of eight seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. While random, one of the first things that stood out to me was how the curtains between first and business class were closed. Other airlines will board first and business class through the forward door, while on Garuda Indonesia the first class cabin is exclusively boarded through the forward door. As a result, you really almost feel like the plane has just eight seats.
Garuda Indonesia first class features fully enclosed suites. I love the design of the suites, though there are a few airlines that have similar cabins, so it’s not that unique of a product.
I had assigned us seats 2D & 2G, the two center seats in the second row.
Immediately above our seats was a Skytrax 5-star placard. Garuda Indonesia is clearly proud of this award, and they sure deserve it.
Obviously the window seats afford a bit more privacy if you’re traveling alone, not to mention you can easily look out of the window.
I was in 2D, which is the aisle seat on the left side of the cabin.
Waiting at my seat were two pillows, including one rectangular one and one cylindrical one.
My seat had an ottoman, which could double as a buddy seat, in case you want to dine face-to-face.
To the right of the seat was a small monitor that could be used to control the lighting, seat functions, etc. The entire screen could even be removed and held in your hand, if desired.
Towards the back right of my seat was an entertainment controller, headphones, and a bottle of Evian water.
The headphones were Garuda Indonesia branded, and were okay quality, though certainly not as good as Bose headphones, for example.
Then towards the front right of the seat was another storage compartment, which is also where the power port was located.
Between those two compartments was the area holding the massive tray table, which had a glassy faux-wood finish. The tray table could be folded over so that it was only half out, though unfortunately it couldn’t move front and back, which made it tough to get up during the meal services.
Then on the outside of the seat was a small closet, which was big enough for a coat, etc.
Other bags could be stored either underneath the ottoman, or in the center overhead bins. The cabin didn’t have any overhead bins on the sides, but rather just four bins in the center section, above row two. There weren’t any on the sides to create a more spacious feeling, and there’s usually not one above row one due to the pilot crew rest on top.
Waiting for us on the center console were all kinds of goodies, which were beautifully displayed.
This included the menu and wine list in leather binders.
Then there was a tray with a copy of The Jakarta Post, as well as a writing kit.
The writing kit had paper, a pen, and an immigration form for Indonesia.
Then there was the amenity kit, which came in a cool Garuda Indonesia First Class-branded box.
The amenity kit was provided by Loewe, and featured a dental set, a shoehorn, a brush, eyeshades, earplugs, and lip balm.
Then there was some facial moisturizer, cologne, and body lotion.
There was also a separate kit with socks and eyeshades.
Once settled in, all four of the first class flight attendants came by one-by-one to introduce themselves. I was so impressed by their professionalism. Each of them kneeled down by my seat, addressed me by name, and in the warmest way possible welcomed me aboard Garuda Indonesia and wished me a nice flight. I felt like I was being welcomed into their homes, rather than being welcomed onto a flight that they just happened to be working. I know that sounds cheesy, but it really felt that way to a degree I’ve rarely experienced on any airline.
As Oktaviana came by my seat she offered me a drink — “Mr. Schlappig, may I get you something to drink? Perhaps you’d like a glass of champagne?” Works for me!
Garuda Indonesia has two types of champagne in first class — Billecart-Salmon and Laurent-Perrier Rose. I selected the rose, which Oktaviana promptly served me.
In addition to the drink, I was offered a warm towel and warm macadamia nuts.
Moments later, Septi came by with pajamas for the flight. The first class concierge who contacted me before the flight asked what size pajamas I wanted, and it seemed like that information was passed on to the crew. While the pajamas are simple, they’re also very comfortable.
After that, Henny came through the cabin to provide a service I’ve never seen before. She had white gloves on and placed a mat by my feet. Then I took off my shoes, and she placed them in a shoebag while also placing the slippers on my feet — wow, what service!
I loved the Garuda Indonesia slippers, as they were sturdy.
I kept my shoes underneath my ottoman for the entire flight, though it felt sort of silly having my sneakers in shoebags.
As I mentioned in the previous installment, we were battling the curfew at Heathrow, meaning we were in a rush to leave. Boarding started at 11PM, and we had to be airborne by 11:30PM, or else we’d violate the curfew.
At around 11:15PM the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, apologizing for the delay, and introducing his three colleagues in the flight deck. He anticipated a mostly smooth flight to Jakarta, though said there might be some moderate turbulence over India.
Boarding was really efficient, and the cabin door closed at 11:22PM. There were six passengers in first class, and we were the only non-Indonesian passengers, best I could tell — there was a couple in 1D & 1G, a guy who was filming much of the flight in 1K, and then a lady with a massive ring who just slept most of the flight in 2A, across from me.
At that point the cabin senior, Jury, made his welcome aboard announcement.
As we pushed back the safety video began to play, though once we completed our pushback we taxied super fast, probably because we were trying to beat the curfew. As we taxied out the crew came through the cabin to ask if we wanted to partake in the caviar service after takeoff, and asked what we wanted to drink with it.
The cabin lights were dimmed as we taxied out, and the “stars” on the ceiling were turned on, which is such a cute touch.
At 11:32PM — two minutes after the curfew — we began our takeoff roll. Due to the crew’s takeoff preparations, they were buckling up as we were rolling down the runway.
The climb out was fairly smooth, and less than five minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.
I briefly browsed the entertainment selection. Perhaps the most interesting feature is that you can choose what color background you want for your screen, which I’ve not seen on another airline.
First I checked out the airshow for our 14hr5min flight to Jakarta, which was significantly longer than usual due to light tailwinds.
I then browsed the entertainment selection. There was a selection of about 120 movies. While not as extensive as what you’ll find on Emirates or Singapore, that’s a pretty solid selection, if you ask me.
There were also about 100 TV shows, though it was a largely unusual selection, and not the typical array of sitcoms you’ll find on many airlines
Shortly after takeoff we were also presented with cards for complimentary wifi. It’s such a nice touch that Garuda Indonesia offers this for first class passengers, as so many airlines don’t.
Even if you don’t get a voucher, wifi on Garuda Indonesia is very reasonably priced, with no data caps. There are the following package options:
- 1 hour of wifi for $11.95
- 3 hours of wifi for $16.95
- Full flight wifi for $21.95
As I said above, there are no data caps for those packages, and you can even switch between devices (you just can’t use two devices at once). wifi was among the fastest I’ve had on an international flight, so it’s a really solid offering.
I was impressed by how quickly after takeoff the crew began their service. Less than 20 minutes after takeoff, Septi served me a glass of rose and caviar. The caviar was beautifully displayed, and the caviar bowl even had dry ice underneath it, so there was a dry ice effect towards the beginning — amazing!
The caviar was served with blinis, sour cream, and prawn crackers.
While not the most expensive champagne out there, I really do like the Laurent-Perrier rose.
After that course I quickly checked out the lavatory. There was only one lavatory at the front of the cabin (it would be nice if they had two, given that it’s also used by the pilots), which featured “real” towels and some other toiletries.
As I emerged from the restroom I saw the captain just getting ready for his rest, and said “I have to ask, how did you get around the Heathrow curfew?” He laughed and said that since it was Garuda’s first violation they were given an exception, but he was still frustrated that they barely missed it.
Once back at my seat, Aziz (who was in a chef’s uniform at this point) came by my seat and said “I wanted to discuss your dining on today’s flight, if this is a good time.” He went over the entire menu with me, explained that I could dine whenever I wanted, and took my order.
The menu read as follows:
And the drink list read as follows:
The tea & coffee menu read as follows:
We wanted to start our meal right away so we could get some rest, and sure enough they set our tables within about 15 minutes.
I thought the table setting was gorgeous, including the breadbasket, glass plate, salt and pepper display, olive oil, etc.
For the starter I ordered the crab cakes with pickle and pineapple salsa, which was incredibly flavorful. The salsa was very spicy, and the crab cakes had a lot of meat in them, rather than being mostly breading, as you’ll often find on planes.
Ford had the smoked duck with pineapple, coconut and mango yogurt, and papaya salsa, which he really enjoyed.
We had a glass of sancerre to go along with this course.
Next we were served the soup course, which was presented first without the broth/liquid. One flight attendant would present the bowl, and then Aziz would be right behind with a pitcher that had the broth.
I had the chicken noodle soup with a chicken meatball, pak choy, and and spring onion. It was phenomenal, and once again, spicy.
Ford had the tomato soup, which he enjoyed as well.
Next we were served the main course. Ford had the Indonesian beef rendang with jasmine rice, kale curry, and green chili sambal. I tried some of it, and it was very good.
I had the salmon and prawns, which I enjoyed as well.
Next Ford and I shared a cheese plate. Once again, the presentation was beautiful, though I found the combination of an apricot, olive, and cherry on the side to be unusual.
The crew insisted we have some dessert wine, so we took them up on the offer.
Next we were served dessert. I had the strawberry cheesecake. Is that restaurant quality presentation, or what?
Ford had the walnut and dark chocolate brownie tart with vanilla bean ice cream.
The entire meal service was done just under 2hr30min after takeoff, and what a feast it was. The food wasn’t necessarily the most bougie selection you’ll find on any airline, but the execution and flavors were incredible. Without exception, every single dish was bursting with flavor.
But really the most noteworthy aspect of the meal was the service. I can’t properly put into words how professional and kind our crew was. First of all, I don’t know any other airline that staffs a first class cabin with four crew members, which is an incredible ratio.
It’s not just about the ratio, though, but about how genuine and professional the crew was. For example:
- At every single interaction they’d kneel to communicate, so you were on the same level
- When every single dish was served, they’d provide a description of exactly what you’re being served, and say “please enjoy”
- After every course they’d ask how it was
- Oktaviana, Septi, Henny, and Aziz were among the kindest people I’ve interacted with on a plane; it’s not just that they were poised or professional or kind, but they were so fun as well; we really felt like we were guests in someone’s home, rather than feeling like we were on a plane; sometimes you get one good flight attendant, while in this case all four were incredible
Kudos to this superstar crew, they really are probably the best I’ve ever had.
After dinner we requested to have our beds made, which was promptly taken care of. The beds were very nicely made, and Septi even tucked me in and said “sweet dreams, Mr. Ben.”
Having a fully enclosed suite is always a special treat, as you actually feel like you have some privacy.
As far as the bedding itself goes, I had mixed feelings. The pillows were great, and I appreciated that there were three of them. However, the bed was a bit on the firm side, so I wish they had a thicker mattress pad. Furthermore, while the blanket was soft and comfortable, it was pretty narrow, so you couldn’t fully wrap yourself in it.
These are ultimately all very minor complaints, and I managed to sleep very well, given how exhausted I was.
I know this perhaps sounds crazy, but I find the stars on the ceiling on planes to be incredibly calming, and help with falling asleep.
I went to bed with about 11hr30min to go to Jakarta, as we were over Turkey.
I slept for almost exactly six hours, and woke up as we were just south of Mumbai, about 5hr30min from our arrival in Jakarta.
Within moments of waking up, Septi appeared at my seat to ask how I slept and offer me a snack. I had a look at the snack menu, which read as follows:
I wasn’t especially hungry, though decided to order the Indonesian sate platter, which was tasty.
I also ordered a peppermint tea.
I decided to work for a few hours, which was easy thanks to the fast and free wifi. Eventually I also ordered a cappuccino. I’m bummed I didn’t order one earlier, as this was probably the best cappuccino I’ve ever had on a plane. It was served in a massive cup, and tasted every bit as good as it looked.
As someone who is addicted to caffeinated beverages, I also decided to order a french press coffee. When you order a french press on Garuda, you can even choose what type of roast you want, which I’ve never been offered before on any other airline.
Garuda Indonesia’s coffee game is spot on!
I worked for the next few hours, and eventually we were about two hours from our arrival in Jakarta. Aziz came by my seat to remind me that I could have breakfast whenever I wanted, so we decided to eat about 90 minutes before landing.
The breakfast menu read as follows:
The breakfast table setting was once again beautiful, between the bread basket and three types of jam each presented on a separate plate. I ordered a cappuccino and still water to drink, and had some corn flakes and fruit with fruit yogurt to eat.
The bread basket consisted of a croissant, chocolate pastry, and a danish.
For my main course I had scrambled eggs. I ordered them well done, and they were indeed prepared perfectly. I had some mushrooms, asparagus, and a hash brown to go along with it.
Ford had the nasi goreng for breakfast, which he enjoyed as well.
After breakfast I headed back to the lavatory to change, and thanked the crew for how incredible they were. I told them that I’ve flown many airlines in first class, but that they were the best. One of them responded with “we may not have as much money as some other airlines, but we have heart.” They sure do!
I asked if it was okay if I took a picture of them, which they were perfectly fine with (and then they took out their phones as well, and all started taking group pictures). Unfortunately Aziz wasn’t in the picture as he was in business class at the time, but you can see the captain and the three incredible flight attendants taking care of us in first class — Oktaviana, Septi, and Henny.
About 30 minutes before landing the captain provided updated arrival information for Jakarta, at which point the crew slowly began preparing the cabin for landing. This included them providing the white glove “shoe service” once again, where they’d take your shoes out of the shoebags and place them by your feet. They also came around with Garuda Indonesia First Class-branded bags for taking home all the goodies we were given throughout the flight, including pajamas, amenity kits, etc.
As we descended, each crew member came around one by one to thank everyone for flying Garuda Indonesia.
Finally at 8:15PM we had an extremely smooth touchdown in Jakarta, and 10 minutes later we found ourselves at a remote stand. We were sad to bid farewell to the crew, though little did we know that the amazing service for our journey wasn’t over yet!
Garuda Indonesia first class bottom line
This might just have been my favorite flight ever. While there are airlines that perform better than Garuda Indonesia in specific categories (blingy amenities, better bedding, etc.), I don’t remember the last time I’ve flown in such a well rounded product.
Garuda is absolutely best in class for their cabin crew. The flight attendants taking care of us were incredible. But beyond that, the food was tasty across the board, I loved the free wifi, and there were so many little touches that made the flight special.
As I reflect on this flight, I really do think it was my favorite flight ever, and Garuda Indonesia first class may be my favorite first class product in the world.
Kudos to the airline on this great product, and in particular kudos to the crew for their heartfelt hospitality.