Garuda Indonesia

Yay: Garuda Indonesia Formally Requests LAX Flights

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Last June we first learned that Garuda Indonesia wanted to begin flying to the U.S., which I’ve been super excited about. However, they had a couple of hurdles to overcome before they could do so.

The biggest hurdle was that Indonesia didn’t comply with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards, meaning they didn’t have the Category 1 rating required in order to operate flights to the U.S. Fortunately they managed to get a Category 1 rating last August, so now Indonesian airlines are allowed to start flying to the U.S.

We’ve known that Garuda Indonesia has been hoping to launch flights to the U.S. in mid-2017, which was further hinted at a couple of weeks back when Garuda Indonesia substituted the plane on their London Heathrow route as of this summer.

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Garuda Indonesia Wants To Start Flying To The U.S. This Summer!

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On Tuesday I wrote about how Garuda Indonesia had an equipment change on their Jakarta to London route, starting for travel in June 2017. Starting in June the flight will no longer feature a first class cabin, which is a shame, given that Garuda Indonesia has one of the world’s best first class products, as far as I’m concerned.

While I was sad about this news, it looks like there might be a silver lining. We first learned in mid-2016 that Garuda Indonesia wants to start flying to the U.S. Specifically, they want to operate a one stop flight between Jakarta and Los Angeles, with a stop in Japan.

One of the reasons they hadn’t yet started the service was because Indonesian airlines were banned from flying to the U.S. due to their safety ratings. In August 2016, Indonesia was finally granted a Category 1 safety rating, meaning that Indonesian airlines are now permitted to fly to the U.S.

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Ouch: Garuda Indonesia Downgrades London Route

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In December I had the chance to fly Garuda Indonesia first class from London to Jakarta to Singapore to London. The flights were incredible, and Garuda Indonesia has what’s easily one of my favorite first class products in the world. It was one of the all around most seamless first class experiences I’ve ever had.

The problem with Garuda Indonesia is that there’s no way to redeem partner miles for travel in their first class. However, we’ve seen some good opportunities to snag a Garuda Indonesia first class ticket at a discount lately:

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Great Garuda Indonesia First Class Fares Are Back!

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Last November Garuda Indonesia had a great “Black Friday” sale, with discounted first & business class fares between London and Asia. I took advantage of this offer and flew from London to Jakarta in Garuda Indonesia first class, and then returned from Jakarta to Singapore to London.

The flights were incredible, and Garuda Indonesia no doubt has one of my favorite first class products in the world (and perhaps even my favorite). I’ve never flown an airline with staff who were so consistently and genuinely friendly.

A few weeks ago Garuda Indonesia had a 90% off award sale (including for first class), though that ended up being a bit of a cluster, meaning that not everyone who was interested was able to take advantage of the offer.

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Heartwarming: Garuda Indonesia Flight Attendant Carries Passenger Off Plane

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I recently had the chance to fly Garuda Indonesia from London to Jakarta and back, and had an incredible experience. While the seats, food, etc., were great, what really stood out to me the most were the people. I’ve never before flown an airline with people who consistently seem so genuine about treating passengers like their guests. Some airlines put on acts, while on Garuda Indonesia I feel like they provide service from the heart.

While it doesn’t involve first class or caviar, a heartwarming picture has emerged of a Garuda Indonesia flight attendant carrying an elderly lady off the plane, apparently because there was no wheelchair waiting for her. Here’s the picture, courtesy of Twitter user @efenerr:

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Review: Dnata Lounge Terminal 3 Singapore Airport

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Our transit time in Singapore was only scheduled to be 65 minutes, so initially our plan was to just hang around the gate, since we were running late, and I figured it would take a while to get to the lounge. Of course I should have known better, given that Garuda Indonesia carefully considers every aspect of the first class ground experience. 😉

Upon deplaning we were greeted by Saddiq, who had a sign with our names on it. There was another representative waiting for the other first class passenger.

Saddiq informed us that he’d be staying with us for the duration of our time in Singapore. Once outside the gate there were two golf carts waiting for the two first class parties, so we were driven to the lounge.

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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class 777-300ER Jakarta To Singapore

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We boarded through door L1 shortly after 7AM, where we were greeted by our smiling first class crew. As was the case on the last flight, the curtain between first and business class was closed, so only first class passengers boarded through door L1.

Rather than sitting together in the center section, like last time, Ford and I decided to take window seats this time around.

I settled into 2A, while Ford took seat 1A.

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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class Lounge Jakarta

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Our flight from Jakarta to London (via Singapore) was departing at 7:20AM, so we requested that the Garuda Indonesia limousine service pick us up at our hotel at 4AM. We got to the lobby at around 3:50AM, and the driver was already waiting for us in a Toyota Alphard.

Our ride to the airport took about 40 minutes. Funny enough, the traffic was worse going to the airport at 4AM than it was from the airport to the hotel at around 9PM.

We pulled up to the far end of the terminal when we arrived at the airport, where we were immediately greeted by the two Garuda Indonesia representatives, Dea and Freddie, who would be taking care of us. They greeted us by name, and escorted us straight to the lounge. It really is incredible how seamless Garuda Indonesia makes the ground experience.

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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class Arrivals & Chauffeur Service Jakarta

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I was expecting the amazing experience to be over the moment we stepped off the plane given that Jakarta Airport is one of the less-nice ones in the region, though Garuda still found a way to make the ground experience pleasant.

We arrived at a remote stand, and the moment the door opened there were several airline representatives waiting to pick up first class passengers. There were two representatives per party (one to escort you, and another to take your luggage).

We were greeted by Larizka and Ilham, who said they’d be helping us through immigration and to our waiting car. They apologized once again for the flight’s delay, and for the fact that we were arriving at a remote stand. It’s nice when an airline has a separate bus for premium passengers, but in the case of Garuda Indonesia, they had two buses for first class passengers, so that there were only three people per bus. We had a roughly five minute drive to the terminal.

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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class 777-300ER London To Jakarta

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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.

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My 7 Favorite Airlines I Flew For The First Time In 2016

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One of my big focuses of 2016 was reviewing as many new airlines as possible. Given that I’ve flown most of the world’s best first class products, this came primarily in the form of trying more business class products. Furthermore, with so many airlines having devalued their award charts, often the sweet spot for award redemptions is shifting from first class to business class.

At first I figured I’d miss products like Cathay Pacific first class, Emirates first class, Lufthansa first class, etc., which almost began to feel like second homes.

However, I’ve found it so enjoyable to try new airlines. In many ways, airlines reflect the cultures of their respective homes, so even if you’re not visiting a country, flying a country’s airline gives you a good taste of that destination. I’ve enjoyed flying new airlines so much, and my goal for 2017 is to review even more new airlines than I did this year.

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Review: No1 Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

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Our flight from London to Jakarta was scheduled to depart at 8:15PM, though around noon GMT I got an email from Garuda Indonesia indicating that there had been a flight delay:

“I have just emailing to let you know that tonight’s flight has had a small delay due to a technical problem, The flight is now due to depart LHR at 23:05 and you will arrive into CGK at 19:55+1.

Please note that check in will open at 17:15 and will close at 22:00.

Apologies on behalf of Garuda Indonesia.”

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Garuda Indonesia Has Pulled Their 90% Off Award Promo Early

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What a flippin’ mess. It looks like Garuda Indonesia has pulled their 90% off award promo as of December 24 (Jakarta time). Garuda Indonesia on Twitter claims that “available seat is fully booked,” though I’m guessing this just turned out to be too much of a headache. There’s no way all the seats have been booked, given that every single award seat throughout the system (including in economy) is available through this promotion.

The website seems to have just been updated to reflect this change, at least the Indonesian site (the promotion still shows when selecting English as the language). However, call center agents are consistently confirming that the promotion is over.

I guess the next big question is whether Garuda Indonesia will honor the promotion for those who had tickets on hold but hadn’t yet ticketed, or if it’s not being honored for anyone.

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