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Home Travel Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Boeing 777 (CGK-JED)

Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Boeing 777 (CGK-JED)

by Staff

To continue my long journey to Abu Dhabi, I flew Garuda Indonesia’s Boeing 777 business class from Jakarta to Jeddah.

While I had flown Garuda Indonesia first class before, this was my first time flying the carrier’s business class, and I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately the experience was a far cry from what I was hoping for, and it’s clear that Garuda Indonesia has been in cost cutting mode in recent years. From no menus, to low quality headphones, to awful bedding, to cheap amenity kits, the Garuda Indonesia business class experience doesn’t feel very premium.

However, I have to say that the food was quite good, and the service was very friendly. I should also acknowledge that I was flying to Jeddah, and I was one of the only passengers who wasn’t on a pilgrimage. That being said, it’s my understanding that this is Garuda Indonesia’s standard long haul business class experience, aside from the lack of alcohol.

Anyway, let’s get into the review…

How I booked my Garuda Indonesia business class ticket

I booked my Garuda Indonesia business class ticket from Jakarta to Jeddah using Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles. Specifically, I booked the following for 68,000 Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles plus $109.33 in taxes and fees:

12/03 GA980 Jakarta to Jeddah departing 11:30AM arriving 5:30PM

Air France-KLM Flying Blue is one of the most useful frequent flyer programs, especially for SkyTeam redemptions. Air France-KLM partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou, so the miles are easy to come by. I had acquired these miles some time back, and took advantage of a transfer bonus that was available at the time.

Garuda Indonesia business class lounge & boarding

In a previous installment, I reviewed the Garuda Indonesia Lounge at Jakarta Airport. I had high hopes, given that this is the carrier’s flagship lounge located in a fairly new terminal, but unfortunately the lounge was underwhelming. I wouldn’t spend any more time in the lounge than you have to, and if you have access, I’d much rather visit the Plaza Premium Lounge.

My flight to Jeddah was boarding from gate eight, with a scheduled boarding time of 10:45AM, 45 minutes ahead of the 11:30AM scheduled departure. The aircraft was actually parked at a remote stand, so this was only where the bus boarded.

Garuda Indonesia departure gate Jakarta Airport

Boarding ended up starting at 10:50AM, with business class being invited to board first.

Garuda Indonesia departure gate Jakarta Airport

There was a dedicated bus for business class passengers, so I was pointed toward that. No one else showed up, and after about five minutes, I was driven to the plane all on my own — nice!

Garuda Indonesia business class bus Jakarta Airport

After quite a long drive, we arrived at the aircraft, a Boeing 777-300ER with the registration code PK-GIK, which was delivered in 2016. The aircraft had a special retro livery, reflecting Garuda Indonesia’s branding from 1969-1985.

Garuda Indonesia 777 Jakarta Airport
Garuda Indonesia 777 Jakarta Airport

Garuda Indonesia 777 business class cabin & seats

A majority of Garuda Indonesia’s Boeing 777s (including the one I was flying on) are in a two cabin configuration, featuring just business class and economy. There are a total of 26 business class seats spread across seven rows, in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration. This takes up the entire space between the first and second set of doors.

Garuda Indonesia has the the Stelia Solstys III business class product, which I’d say is a bit past its prime at this point, and I can’t say that the cabin finishes are doing the airline any favors either.

Garuda Indonesia business class cabin 777
Garuda Indonesia business class cabin 777

As far as the seating arrangement goes, those traveling together may like the “honeymoon” seats in the center section of even numbered rows, as the seats are really close to one another, so that you can enjoy the flight together and easily communicate.

Garuda Indonesia business class seats 777

The center seats in odd numbered rows are further from the center and closer to the aisle, so they’re not ideal for those traveling together. These would be my last choice seats in this configuration.

Garuda Indonesia business class seats 777

Along the windows, seats alternate between being closer to the aisle and closer to the windows.

Garuda Indonesia business class seats 777

In even numbered rows, seats are closer to the aisle, so they offer less privacy, and it’s harder to look out the window.

Garuda Indonesia business class seat 777
Garuda Indonesia business class seat 777
Garuda Indonesia business class seat 777

I consider the best seats in this configuration to be window seats in odd numbered rows, since these have the most separation from the aisle. I assigned myself seat 7A, the window seat in the last row of business class on the left side.

Garuda Indonesia business class seat 777

As far as the seat features go, the tray table folds out from the seat in front, and is a single, solid surface. On the plus side, you can rotate it 90 degrees, so that you can get up while the tray table is extended.

Garuda Indonesia business class seat tray table

The seat and entertainment controls are located to the side of the seat, and are easy to use. The entertainment controller can also be extended, should you want to use that to select your entertainment (rather than just using the touchscreen feature).

Garuda Indonesia business class seat entertainment controller

Underneath that space is a small storage area, where you could place a phone or passport during the flight (though maybe don’t, because you may forget it there).

Garuda Indonesia business class seat storage

For any sort of staggered configuration, there’s a footwell in which you place your feet. The good thing about this old-style seat is that the footwell is pretty large, and shouldn’t be too restrictive.

Garuda Indonesia business class seat ottoman

To the side of that and near the floor is a literature pocket, an AC power outlet, and two USB-A power outlets.

Garuda Indonesia business class seat outlets

Unfortunately the overhead console doesn’t have any individual air nozzles, though at least the cabin wasn’t kept too warm.

Garuda Indonesia 777 overhead console

I’d say that Garuda Indonesia’s business class hard product is… fine? It’s actually quite comfortable in the “true” window seats, though the seat tech and finishes could definitely use some improvement.

Garuda Indonesia business class amenities

Garuda Indonesia’s business class amenities are almost uniformly underwhelming. Waiting at each seat upon boarding were a pair of beat up, uncomfortable headphones, which didn’t do much to cancel noise.

Garuda Indonesia business class headphones

There was also a pillow and blanket. While the pillow was decent, the blanket was more along the lines of what I’d expect in economy, as it was scratchy and thin.

Garuda Indonesia business class pillow & blanket

There was also a small bottle of water at each seat upon boarding.

Garuda Indonesia business class bottled water

After settling in, the crew presented me with a really cheap amenity kit. The kit contained eyeshades, a dental kit, earplugs, a brush, lip balm, and hand and body lotion.

Garuda Indonesia business class amenity kit

I was also given some flimsy slippers.

Garuda Indonesia business class slippers

Also a short time after boarding, I was offered my choice of passionfruit juice, orange juice, or water. I asked for both a water and a passionfruit juice, and that was served with a warm towel.

Garuda Indonesia business class pre-departure drinks

One thing noticeably absent was menus, which I guess Garuda Indonesia no longer offers in business class, even on long haul flights. Ouch.

It’s really sad how Garuda Indonesia seems to be cutting corners, because a cheap amenity kit, bad bedding, uncomfortable headphones, and lack of menus, really don’t set a great tone for a flight.

Garuda Indonesia 777 business class entertainment & Wi-Fi

Garuda Indonesia’s 777 business class entertainment selection is limited, and the interface also feels quite outdated.

Garuda Indonesia business class entertainment system 777

By my count, the system had just over 60 movies, just under 120 TV shows, and then a variety of games and music.

Garuda Indonesia business class entertainment system 777
Garuda Indonesia business class entertainment system 777
Garuda Indonesia business class entertainment system 777
Garuda Indonesia business class entertainment system 777

While there was a button for live TV, the system indicated that this was currently unavailable.

Garuda Indonesia business class entertainment system 777

As a sad sign of the times, “Just for Laughs Gags” was probably the entertainment option that most interested me. If you’re picky about what you watch, definitely bring your own entertainment.

Garuda Indonesia business class entertainment system 777

Of course Garuda Indonesia also has a map feature, which is what I ended up having on for most of the flight.

Garuda Indonesia business class entertainment system 777
Garuda Indonesia business class entertainment system 777

Garuda Indonesia has Wi-Fi on its Boeing 777s, and there are several pricing plans available:

  • There’s a free texting plan for 30 minutes
  • You can buy a 50MB plan for $11.95
  • You can buy a 150MB plan for $16.95
  • You can buy a 250MB plan for $21.95
Garuda Indonesia Wi-Fi system 777
Garuda Indonesia Wi-Fi system 777

While I prefer Wi-Fi plans without data caps, ultimately the $21.95 price point for 250MB of data was a worthwhile investment, and allowed me to stay productive for part of the flight.

Garuda Indonesia 777 departure from Jakarta

When I checked in online the evening before the flight, I was the only passenger with a seat assigned in business class. There ended up being a handful of people in business class, but they were last minute upgrades, it seems.

One other thing to note is that a vast majority of passengers on this flight were pilgrims. They were easy to identify, as they all travel with special lanyards. Two other people in business class weren’t part of one of these groups, but I think that’s it. However, as I said above, I don’t think that caused any changes to service in business class, other than the lack of alcohol.

Garuda Indonesia 777 remote stand boarding

Passengers arrived at the plane via a few buses, and at 11:35AM boarding was complete. At that point the main cabin door closed, and the lead flight attendant made her welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 9hr24min. After that, the safety video was screened, followed by a very long pre-flight prayer (there was another one later in the flight, and another one after landing).

Garuda Indonesia pre-flight prayer

We pushed back from our stand at 11:45AM, and started our taxi at 11:50AM.

Taxiing Jakarta Airport

It was a very short taxi to our departure runway, where we just had to wait for another Garuda Indonesia 777 to depart.

Taxiing Jakarta Airport

We took off at 11:55AM, right ahead of a Saudia 777 also headed to Jeddah.

Taxiing Jakarta Airport
Taking off Jakarta Airport

I enjoyed the views on the climb out…

View after takeoff Jakarta Airport
View after takeoff Jakarta Airport
View after takeoff Jakarta Airport
View after takeoff Jakarta Airport

Garuda Indonesia business class lunch service

On this flight, lunch was served after takeoff, and that was quick to get started. As mentioned earlier, lunch orders were taken while the aircraft was still on the ground. The lack of menus made that quite complicated, as the choices were either noodles with seafood, opor ayam, or sei sapi.

I’ve gotta be honest, I’m not an expert on Indonesian cuisine (despite quite liking it), and I didn’t know what those last two things were, and the flight attendant wasn’t really able to describe it well. Fortunately since orders were taken on the ground, I was able to look this up online.

Service started 25 minutes after takeoff, with drinks and canapés being served. The canapé consisted of a salmon tart, and was quite tasty. I had a Diet Coke to go along with it. Garuda Indonesia doesn’t serve alcohol on flights to Saudi Arabia. Technically airlines can serve alcohol on these flights, just not when they enter Saudi Arabian airspace. However, most airlines just don’t bother serving alcohol, both given the typical customer base, plus given the complicated logistics.

Garuda Indonesia business class meal service

35 minutes after takeoff I was served the starter, which consisted of smoked chicken breast with some veggies, as well as some tasteless bread. There were no choices for the starter.

Garuda Indonesia business class meal service

For the main course I selected the opor ayam, one of the Indonesian specialties, which is chicken with coconut milk. It was quite tasty.

Garuda Indonesia business class meal service

Lastly, at the conclusion of the meal I was offered some sort of a fruit tart, and I ordered a cappuccino to go along with that.

Garuda Indonesia business class meal service

The meal service was wrapped up within an hour of takeoff, which isn’t too surprising when you consider how empty the cabin was.

Garuda Indonesia 777 business class lavatories

Garuda Indonesia’s Boeing 777s have three lavatories around business class — there’s one at the front of the cabin by the cockpit, and two behind the cabin. The catch is that for the lavatories behind the cabin, one is for economy, and then the other one is locked so that economy passengers don’t try to use it, as it’s reserved for business class passengers.

There was usually a flight attendant in that galley who would be happy to open the lavatory. Both of the business class lavatories were kept spotless throughout the flight.

Garuda Indonesia business class lavatory 777
Garuda Indonesia business class lavatory 777

The lavatories had very little in the way of amenities, other than a little lotion and fragrance.

Garuda Indonesia business class lavatory 777

Garuda Indonesia 777 business class bed

I was super tired after lunch, as it had been quite a long few days. So I reclined my seat and tried to get as comfortable as possible.

Garuda Indonesia business class bed 777
Garuda Indonesia business class bed 777

The crew dimmed the cabin lights at this point as well, and turned on some mood lighting and the “stars” on the ceiling, which is such a cute touch (I wish more airlines would do this).

Garuda Indonesia business class mood lighting 777

I ended up falling asleep just over an hour after takeoff, off the coast of Indonesia.

Garuda Indonesia business class map feature

I then woke up around two hours later, as we were approaching Sri Lanka. I’m such a bad airplane sleeper.

Garuda Indonesia business class map feature

I tried to sleep for a bit longer, but ultimately got up about an hour after that.

One other quirk I should mention, which I noticed during the flight. The seatbelt sign was almost never turned off, and on multiple occasions the pilots made an announcement telling the flight attendants to be seated, only for there to be no turbulence. I know pilots can’t perfectly predict turbulence, but this was one of the smoothest long haul flights I’ve had in a long time, so I found that to be strange.

Garuda Indonesia business class snack & pre-arrival meal

Once awake, I ordered a cup of coffee. When the crew brought me that, they also brought over a tray of snacks to choose from, with mixed nuts, cashews, and instant noodles, though I wasn’t hungry.

Garuda Indonesia business class coffee
Garuda Indonesia business class snacks

I spent some time working on my laptop, and a few hours later we were in Omani airspace, approaching Saudi Arabia.

Garuda Indonesia business class map feature

Around 2.5 hours before landing, the cabin lights were turned back on, and the pre-landing meal service commenced. Service began with warm towels, and I ordered a sparkling water to drink.

Garuda Indonesia business class drink

Next up, a fruit appetizer was served, with two kinds of melons, kiwis, and strawberries. There was also a breadbasket.

Garuda Indonesia business class meal service

Main course orders had been taken earlier in the flight, and the options included beef with saffron rice, chicken kung pao, or salmon with potatoes. I selected that last option. Honestly, it was quite a good dish, both in terms of presentation and taste.

Garuda Indonesia business class meal service

The meal concluded with a piece of chocolate cake and some more fruit.

Garuda Indonesia business class meal service

Garuda Indonesia business class service

Garuda Indonesia has some of the friendliest flight attendants of any airline. Business class was very well staffed, and the entire crew was friendly, well intentioned, and attentive. They’d check on me (and other passengers) constantly, and they even addressed me by name at every interaction.

That being said, I wouldn’t say that service was particularly polished, at least compared to my previous Garuda Indonesia experience. For example:

  • If the airline isn’t going to have menus, it would be nice if the crew at least had knowledge of the items being served, and could describe them; admittedly I blame management here for cutting costs and not offering menus
  • The service flow was a little strange; for example, with the main meal, the flight attendant served me my dessert a minute after bringing over my main course, and said she’d leave it with me “for [my] convenience”
  • When my appetizer was done, I placed the silverware that I had used on that plate, and rather than removing all of that, the flight attendant placed the dirty silverware back on my tray, and just took the plate (even though there was enough silverware for the rest of the meal there)

So while the service could have been a bit more polished, the crew was ultimately lovely and well intentioned, and was the best part of this flight.

Garuda Indonesia 777 arrival in Jeddah

Soon enough we were approaching Jeddah, so another pre-landing prayer was played through the inflight entertainment system.

Garuda Indonesia business class map feature

At 5:05PM Jeddah time, the pilots told the flight attendants to prepare the cabin for landing, so at that point all preparations were made. It was a pretty evening approaching Jeddah, so I enjoyed the views on approach.

View approaching Jeddah Airport
View approaching Jeddah Airport
View approaching Jeddah Airport
View approaching Jeddah Airport
View approaching Jeddah Airport
View approaching Jeddah Airport

We touched down in Jeddah at 5:25PM, at which point it was first time for one more prayer. We then began our roughly 15-minute taxi to our arrival gate. Our flight was arriving at Jeddah Airport’s notorious Hajj Terminal, and we pulled in at 5:40PM.

Jeddah Airport Hajj terminal
Jeddah Airport Hajj terminal

While we parked at a stand that had a jet bridge, we ended up having to walk down stairs, get on a bus, and then be driven to immigration.

Jeddah Airport remote stand bus

Fortunately immigration was pretty painless, much more so than my journey to Jeddah Terminal 1.

Bottom line

My Garuda Indonesia business class flight wasn’t quite what I was expecting. On a positive note, the highlight of the flight was the crew, as they were friendly across the board, even if not the most polished. The food was also pretty good.

Aside from that, though, this experience disappointed me. Back in the day, Garuda Indonesia was known for offering a fantastic soft product, but that no longer seems to be the case. Garuda Indonesia has really cut back, with low quality headphones, amenity kits, and bedding, and no menus. On top of that, Garuda Indonesia’s 777s have seen better days, and feel a bit outdated.

It’s sad to see the decline of Garuda Indonesia, though I hope the airline eventually reverses course.

What’s your take on Garuda Indonesia’s Boeing 777 business class?

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