My review of Garuda Indonesia business class – flying Gatwick to Amsterdam!

One of the perks of running this site is that I can justify doing slightly odd trips in the name of ‘research’.  When Indonesian airline Garuda announced that it would add a tag to London Gatwick to its existing Amsterdam to Jakarta flight, I knew that I should give it a go!

Garuda used to fly from Amsterdam to Jakarta using an Airbus A330, a flight which required a stop in Abu Dhabi.  When brand new Boeing 777-300ER (the ER stands for ‘extended range’) aircraft arrived in 2014, it had the capacity to fly non-stop from Amsterdam to Jakarta.

When the Gatwick flights were first announced, Garuda was selling one-way tickets in business class to Amsterdam for just £100.  It later crept up to £150 and is now at £235.  I couldn’t justify that, but luckily Garuda Indonesia is part of the Skyteam alliance.

I had a few Flying Blue (the Air France / KLM scheme) miles sitting around and topped them up to 30,000 with some American Express Membership Rewards points.  The Garuda flights can be booked online via Flying Blue.

Garuda uses Gatwick North, the British Airways terminal.  Check-in was, unsurprisingly, fast given that the plane departed with only 9 of the 32 business class seats filled.  The premium security lane – which is now totally separate from the main security area – was almost empty.

Garuda uses the excellent No 1 Traveller lounge at Gatwick North which I reviewed here.  You are guaranteed entry – I mention this because the lounge has a reputation for turning away Priority Pass visitors at busy times.

Departure was 12.25.  Annoyingly, Garuda has joined the list of airlines who no longer put departure times on their boarding passes.  All it said was ‘Boarding time:  11.20’.  You would have to be a bit of a mug to turn up at the gate for that time.  You would be an even bigger mug if you followed their advice to “please be at the boarding gate at least 30 minutes before boarding time” – which would be 95 minutes before departure!

The aircraft is a new Boeing 777-300ER:

Garuda 777

The 32 business class seats are split into two cabins.  Eight seats are between first class and galley with the remaining 24 behind.  I was in the the latter.

The layout is 1-2-1.  It uses the staggered layout which is becoming more and more popular.  This means that some centre pairs have the seats adjacent and are great for couples:

Garuda Indonesia Boeing 777 business class

whilst the row behind has the seats further apart, ideal for solo travellers:

Garuda Indonesia Boeing 777 business class

Similarly, some window seats are directly next to the window, such as mine in 14A:

Garuda Indonesia Boeing 777 business class

whilst others have the side-table by the window and the seat directly next to the aisle.  The seat would extend into a fully flat bed but that would have been overkill on such a short flight!  For eating, a table flips down – it is not concealed in your armrest:

Garuda Indonesia business class Boeing 777-300ER

The cabin crew were excellent, although with only nine passengers it wasn’t that tricky for them.  They did make an effort to use my name at every opportunity.  Pre-departure I was offered a glass of Billecart-Salmon Rose (£45 per bottle in the UK):

Garuda Indonesia Boeing 777 business class seat

Food is always a tricky one on a short ‘fifth freedom’ flight like this.  After all, the majority of the passengers were heading on to Jakarta, albeit that they would be twiddling their thumbs in Amsterdam for 1 hour and 40 minutes.  I was served this:

Garuda Indonesia business class food Boeing 777

…. which may bring a smile to regular British Airways Club Europe passengers who are used to the famous BA ‘three prawn’ salad!

It certainly didn’t count as a substantial meal, but those passengers heading to Jakarta would be getting a full meal two hours later anyway.  With more passengers joining in Amsterdam, it would also not have been possible to serve the first part of the main meal.

And that’s about it.  London to Amsterdam is not exactly a long flight!  On the back of this short taster, though, I would be happy to recommend Garuda Indonesia’s business class service to anyone heading down to Jakarta.

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Comments

  1. How much were the tax and fuel surcharge on your award ticket? Whenever I’ve checked the price for intra-Europe award flights using FB miles, they’re more then the equivalent cash fare!

    • £53 I think, off the top of my head.

      • mikeact says:

        Maximum 60/70 euros. Mind you, I can’t bring that flight up, I guess I could call and book it.
        We’re seriously thinking of using them all the way next year in Business…from AMS though, to keep the charges down, with a short hop from Southampton to get over there.

  2. signol says:

    I too took this flight in J, back in January, and wrote it up on my blog. I was very impressed overall as well, only downside being the small size of the onboard food offering. http://signol.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/2015-01-garuda-j-swiss-j-sas-y-around.html?m=1

  3. I hear this flight might be going away, something to do with the runways at CGK not being strong enough to cope with the 777-300ER at MTOW, and thus suffering damage. I believe Garuda face the choice of another stop to keep take off weights down or adjusting the route in some other way.

    It beggars belief that they didn’t realise this would be a problem BEFORE they ordered the jets.

  4. Pierre says:

    As an avid collector, I must ask: how was the amenity kit?
    Did you get one, even on this short flight?

    • signol says:

      I didn’t get one on the short hop. I don’t know about Raffles though! One thing to note as well, was that all passengers had to disembark at AMS, including those continuing to Jakarta.

  5. I really like the offset seats, experienced them on Etihad recently and was very impressed. The centre pair are perfect for a couple and I loved the privacy of the window seats. BA has a lot to learn, Club World is way behind imo,

    • EvilGazebo says:

      The other bit of IAG has learnt though….flew this layout on Iberia to the US and really liked it too.

      • James67 says:

        Finnair has something sumilar but a little different with their so called throne seats on the A side. Will be replaced on a350s though with latest version of seats used by CX if reports I read are correct. I will get chance to experience the seat on Etihad next month to EDI.

        • Not sure how it compares to Swiss Business, but their ‘throne/Captain Kirk’ seat (with desk either side) had, I found, a really small cubby for one’s feet – I felt almost slightly claustrophobic when lying out in it as I couldn’t turn from one side to the other. In the future I was thinking to aim for one of the seats where the foot area is a bit more open.

          • I had he same experience with the inner two middle (honeymoon)seats on an IB 330. It felt like my feet were in a shoebox It felt strange laid on my back with feet to either the left or right as there was no chance of my size 9s pointing up. With the extreme heat in the cabin as a bonus it was the most uncomfortable overnight flight ever, never slept a wink.
            Today I booked LAX-MAD IB 346 a bargain at 42500 and 109euro pp (includes phone booking fee) as could not get it to go through online. I will be looking for the Isle seats as they look to have more foot room even though we are travelling as a couple.

          • James67 says:

            Despite flying Swiss for two years I missed out on trying the seat due to retrofit delays. I believe the AY seat and cabin layout is identical. I opted for K side and a swat immediately adjacent to window. Both my flights were daytime back from BKK so had no need to go full flat. I canbot recall what space was like but these cubby holes in general are quite tight.

  6. From the pics, the seats look exactly like the Etihad ones (not new ones in the A380) down to the tray, small armrest on the right, larger area on place things on the further right. As you’ve flown the Etihad J product, would you agree?

  7. Do they sell F on that segment too?!

  8. flyforfun says:

    Has anyone flown with them in Y to Amsterdam? The flight keeps coming up in my searches and the timing and cost seem ok. Thought about doing it for the novelty factor and fed up of paying nearly double to fly BA.Actually considering Southend Airport too!

  9. I flew Garuda to Jakarta from LGW in May , First Outbound and Business Return (I upgraded at Gatwick to First for £406) First Class without doubt was one of the best flights i have ever taken including First on BA, EK , SQ and CX , nothing was too much trouble and the service had to be experienced to believe.

    The Return wasnt so good , the worst part was the layover at AMS for 2 hours , knowing that you only had a 40 minute flight to be home.

    The blame for the runway cant be put on Garuda , they where flying within the take off limit , the airport owner has noticed cracking and has reduced the payload for take off , the 3 weekly AMS direct flights leave without a full load in Y .

    In future only 3 flights per week will fly to LGW , which are routed direct from CGK , 3 other weekly flights will route via SIN and finish at AMS.

    if you get a chance to experience Garuda First Class , you should try , it wont be around for long , within the next 18 months , all the 777 flights are being changed to Business and Economy only

    • James67 says:

      Simon, may I ask what is the typical cost of business return exLGW? I’m impressed with your airport uprade offer, EY recently quoted me £500 Y to J for just EDI-AUH. I’m tempted to try amidweek Y and try an airport upgrade if I can find some info on typical J loads. Garuda ordered a bunch of 787sand a350s this week, I guess thatwill herald the end on the 777s andthe runway problems.

  10. James

    The cost of business class is from about £1800.00 upwards which is a non refundable no change fare , i paid £2500 which was C outwards and I class inbound , the C class is upgradeable but the I class isnt.

    The same applies for Economy , Garuda operate a system on all routes where only certain fares can be upgraded at the airport or by miles ( unlike BA with Airport upgrades) the upgrade price from LGW from economy to business is around £400 each way , so i would suggest buying a business class ticket rather than economy as it will work out more expensive unless you require flexibility.

    To be honest , this is one of the reasons i wont be using Garuda again , i like a bit of flexibility in the ticket , for this i would need to pay £2600 (return) for them , but on Emirates, Etihad , Qatar, CX and BA (EX EU) i can get this flexibility for around £2000 (approx)

    • James67 says:

      Thanks Simon, the flexibility is important to me too and main reason I persist for the moment with BAs expensive redemptions despite the great fares available from QR etc. This month I passed up on a £1200 EY J return from EDI-BKK in favour of a cheap Y fare I planned on upgrading with cash and/or miles. It didn’t work out as I planned and now scrambling to get some valie out of EY before devaluation.

      • QR Fares from London are normally both refundable and can be changed for a fee of about £300, Etihad Z fares can only be changed for £275.00 but no refund , i am flying this week to Jakarta on Etihad rather than post the miles to Etihad , i am posting to Garuda ( i use for weekend flights to Bali) Miles can also be posted to AA , but not the cheap Z fares , Garuda allows 130% of the mileage for Etihad Z , which is a great deal

        • Hasn’t Etihad stopped the free chauffeur for Z fares?

          • James67 says:

            Had no problem booking it with my Y-J miles upgrade back to EDI. Actually using it for a 65 mile journey to see my parents on my return. Oddly, if you do a cash upgrade you don’t get it (if I’m understanding correctly) despite the sums required for a cash upgrafe markedly exceeding that for a miles upgrade assummingyou value a mile at the approximate 0.58p you said they effectively sell them for if doing cash and 75% miles. My trip has been a bit of an eye ppener, left scratching my head when it comes to the rationale underpinning Etihad Guest. Will get the facts and figures together and forward them to you on my return.

          • Yes no chauffeur service for Z fares , not flown them for 4 years , so lets see how they are

  11. Made a bid to upgrade on the Etihad flight from business to First on the LHR-AUH sector , i bid the minimum ammount (£450) and this morning recieved an email that its been accepted, to be honest £2250 including one sector in First is a great deal. not sure if the mileage increases but never flown Etihad in first