A Reader’s Experience Ticketing A 90% Off Garuda Indonesia Award

Filed Under: Awards, Garuda Indonesia

Garuda Indonesia has what I’ve called the mileage deal of the decade at the moment, as they’re offering 90% off award tickets booked through the end of the year. Unfortunately it’s also the most mind-numbingly confusing and convoluted airline promotion of the decade. For those of you not up-to-date on this situation, here are my previous posts:

Before I share a reader’s experience with this promotion, I had a couple more thoughts to share:

Garuda Indonesia: get with the program!

Let’s forget about this specific promotion for a moment. I can’t for the life of me wrap my head around Garuda Indonesia’s award ticketing process. The airline recently began allowing online ticketing of awards, which is great.

Prior to that, they had possibly the most convoluted award ticketing system of any airline. You had to call them to hold the award, then had to complete a form and bring your original frequent flyer card to a sales office to ticket.


That’s a horrible system, but what’s even more confusing is that they haven’t updated this. So if your award can be ticketed online you can complete the process in just a few minutes without leaving home, while the alternative is having to show up at an office in person? I don’t understand the two extremes, or how they can justify that.

What is Garuda Indonesia thinking with this promotion?

On the surface this is one of the most puzzling promotions we’ve ever seen. What airline intentionally offers 90% off anything?! With this promotion, a first class ticket from Jakarta to London is less expensive than an economy ticket from Jakarta to Bali would usually be. While extremely generous, that simply doesn’t make any sense.

But the more I thought about it, the more I feel like it’s sort of brilliant. My guess is that Garuda Indonesia’s logic behind this promotion was to generate some positive buzz around their product. Giving people the opportunity to try their world class product for next to nothing will generate a lot of publicity and will get a lot of people talking about the airline.

Ultimately it’s not going to cost the airline much, since saver level award seats would typically go out empty anyway. While airlines can spend millions of dollars on big ad campaigns, they can arguably get even more publicity through people sharing their experiences on social media.

I still assume Garuda Indonesia’s goal is to generate a lot of buzz, though it sort of seems like it’s backfiring. C’mon Garuda Indonesia, I love you guys more than I’ve loved any airline in a long time, but this is causing headaches rather than generating goodwill:

  • If they really want to make this a positive experience, they should make this award deal available for online bookings, so that everyone can take advantage of it.
  • At a minimum, they need to do a better job setting expectations, as no one really seems to know what’s going on. Where are Garuda Indonesia ticketing offices (the lists online are apparently incorrect)? Can these awards be ticketed by phone? Will a U.S. credit card work? Can you ticket an award in someone else’s name? Do you need your original membership card?

C’mon Garuda Indonesia, you guys could generate a lot of goodwill through this offer (which I assume is the intention), but you’ve gotta do a better job than this.


A reader’s experience ticketing a first class award

We’ve heard a lot of stories of people being able to put itineraries on hold, which can be done without even having enough miles in your account. However, we haven’t heard many stories of people actually being able to ticket these awards.

However, reader JL was able to successfully ticket an award. Here’s what he had to say about his experience:

  • You’re best off calling the Garuda Indonesia call center during “local” business hours, as someone picks up almost right away (many of us have been on hold and then disconnected after a couple of minutes, but that’s probably due to the hours we’re calling).
  • There’s a special number for first class passengers (both those booking revenue and award tickets), so perhaps consider calling there. That call center can be reached at +622129655777.
  • It’s not possible to mix classes on these awards, so he had to pay extra for his connection in business class (which isn’t much of an issue at 90% off).
  • He went to Garuda Indonesia’s city ticketing office in Singapore, where he had no trouble buying miles in person. The rate is even better than the $30 per 1,000 miles we thought, as the cost is 275000IDR per 1,000 miles; just make sure you request they price it in IDR rather than USD.
  • The taxes and carrier imposed surcharges for a first class roundtrip ticket between Asia and Amsterdam came out to ~$430.
  • He said the process was easier than he expected, and that the phone call and ticketing experience in the office was easy, as the 90% off rate was automatically calculated.


This raises more questions

So it seems like taking advantage of this promotion is reasonably easy if you live near a Garuda Indonesia ticketing office. The issue is that we’re not sure if any of the U.S. offices actually exist, and if they do, whether they actually ticket awards.

But for those in cities like Singapore, this seems like a straightforward enough process. Perhaps the biggest questions now are:

  • Can awards be ticketed in the name of someone not related to the account holder?
  • Can you send someone on your behalf to ticket an award out of your account?
  • Is the passport of the passenger required to ticket the reservation in either of those circumstances?

Goodness gracious, this is an adventure…

Has anyone else successfully ticketed a Garuda Indonesia 90% off award?

  1. Was in their office in BKK today and looked for a seat from CGK to AMS/LHR in february however there was only 1 seat available at the specific date in J to both of the cities in the whole month and none F seat…looks like the availabillity is very low as somebody mentioned it’s probably one seat per flight for this promo rate.

  2. Lucky, I spent an hour searching reward flights in both J and F in Perth, with a Garuda rep and in their office. It was difficult to find particular dates and also remember they’re only releasing ONE reward ticket per flight!! I planned on getting two tickets to fly as a couple but it can’t be done. Well that’s what I came to conclude with the rep!

    50,000 Garuda miles which is the max sell for $2100 AUD which is a bargain as it’s 25,000 Miles from PER to AMS via Jakarta one way + $400 AUD in Taxes.

    The biggest thing to mention is that you have to be an ACTIVE Garuda Miles member. I’m currently not but have joined a while back so I cannot buy Miles without being an active member/flyer/Miles earner… could you confirm this and with other readers?

  3. Same goes for you Mr blogger.

    A well researched piece versus a rushed, first to market, half baked article, taking readers on a wild goose chase.

  4. “But the more I thought about it, the more I feel like it’s sort of brilliant. My guess is that Garuda Indonesia’s logic behind this promotion was to generate some positive buzz around their product. Giving people the opportunity to try their world class product for next to nothing will generate a lot of publicity and will get a lot of people talking about the airline.”

    If so, mission accomplished. Look how many of the blogs are talking about Garuda. You, for example, have penned four separate posts on this Garuda deal in the 24 hours, each time gushing about how great Garuda first is. Even if the hurdles would-be passengers will have to cross to get ticketed on this promo range from difficult to functionally impossible, the fact that bloggers like you keep pimping Garuda is giving them the buzz anyway.

  5. I said it on my post yesterday: this is a brilliant marketing campaign since it will generate a lot of buzz and cost almost nothing since unless you tick all the requirements needed it is basically impossible to take advantage of this deal if you are in the US and live a normal life.

  6. I’d disagree. I mean, I guess it’s sort of true that any publicity is good publicity (or, conversely, no publicity is bad publicity), but we’re talking about Garuda right now at this moment. That’s it.

    The fact that their ticketing process is seemingly archaic, there’s minimal award seats available, and they only fly to destinations that require a significant amount of the readership to position somewhere far away, I don’t see a whole lot of people being able to try out the product with this promotion. Ultimately, people will stop caring when the next big deal comes along having never flown Garuda and having no need to.

    Unless someone has an urgent need/desire to go to Jakarta in the near future, this I feel like this is going to go down as a to-good-to-really-be-true deal for most people, and Garuda will fade back into obscurity fairly quickly.

  7. Anybody on here ever thought that whilst this is difficult for people in the USA to take advantage of, maybe some airlines like to do promotions that people in their own country/regions can use?! Maybe not all airlines pander to the whim of the USA?

  8. @TG

    It’s a US-based blog. The majority of the readership is US-based. In the context of the blog, it’s generally presumed that we’re looking at things through US-based lenses. Of course this could be targeted at people outside the US, and given your use of “whilst”, I’d make a logical assumption that you’re not from the US. But, again, in the context of Ben’s blog, this has a US tint to it whether you like it or not.

  9. Hmm.. why did he have to pay $400 in carrier charges & taxes?

    AMS-CGK shows taxes at 21 euro on their booking engine..?

  10. New York’s response when I asked:

    “Thanks for your message.

    We do not book and issue redeem mile ticket in our office, but you can check on Garuda Indonesia website for more information.”

  11. Hi
    I am a big fan of your blog and I would like to share my succesful experience. I live in Indonesia and it is very easy to get hold of this promotion, although availability could be one issur. Your travel date has to be very flexible.

    First of all to answer your question.
    Can awards be ticketed in the name of someone not related to the account holder? YES

    Can you send someone on your behalf to ticket an award out of your account? YES

    Is the passport of the passenger required to ticket the reservation in either of those circumstances? NO

    Since i live in Indonesia, i just need to go to GA office. Call centre is hopeless because they are extremely busy. You need a lot of luck to get through. I spent around 30 minutes with GA customer service to find out availability to many different destinations and many different dates too. For example, destination to Japan is extremely popular, it’s almost impossible to get. I managed to secure CGK HKG return in business class in Feb 2017. The total cost is 9000 miles and IDR 2 million. Note that I do not have sufficient points so they hold the ticket for a week. You could get someone with enough miles to pay for your tickets. Or you could purchase points on the spot for idr275,000 for 1000 miles. I would say it’s extremely generous. However I can say that it would be very challenging for those who lived in countries without any GA rep office. I would say if you have a friend in Indonesia, you should get their help to book for you at any GA offices throughout the country.

    Note: I booked a ticket for my wife too without any hassle. I also booked a CGK-SYD return for my brother successfully.

  12. Just stopped by the YVR office and its another company, Mycroft Holdings, listed on the door. Couldnt even ask that company where Garuda is since they also dont exist there anymore. Get your shit together Garuda!!

  13. Booked as well today – as @JL stated first class booking has a separate phone number. If you follow Lucky’s previous post on how to check availability then you should have an idea of the agent will find on their end. All of my flights showed available and the agent was able to hold them.

    Purchasing the miles and then ticket the booking was straightforward at the Garuda office. I’m based in Singapore but I happen to be in Bali for Christmas, and as luck would have it my hotel is a stone’s throw away from a Garuda office (it’s in the Paradiso hotel for anyone in Kuta/Bali wanting to take advantage of the offer – or you can also head to their office in DPS airport). My one-way to AMS will be used to position myself for what would have been my first Garuda First class flight courtesy of their Black Friday sale, I was about to burn SQ miles for it.

    37,000 miles for 3 flights in First (O/W to AMS; R/T to NRT), cash outlay $~1,500 – AMAZING – Thanks for sharing the info Lucky!

  14. Lucky, my parents were able to book this promo. One definite advantage was – they live in Indonesia. For anyone based in Indonesia, the process is relatively easy. I wrote relatively – since to us who are used to convenience of online business process, the booking process will still look cumbersome.

    As soon as I am done reading your first post about this promo, I got on the phone with Garuda Jakarta office. Took me three tries but I got through and got the promo confirmed. I let my folks now – at that time it was 7am Jakarta time.

    1. My father visited the local Garuda office.
    2. He signed up for GarudaMiles at the office. The local agent helped him do that, and he setup an account for mom too.
    3. Agent looked for availability. He found 1F and 1J, from our hometown to DPS then NRT and back.
    4. Hold the ticket, bought the required miles right there at the office, then have the itinerary ticketed.

    Since they will not be coming out of CGK, there will be no limo service. I’ve been to my hometown local office, and all of the staff are Garuda’s own staff, not subcontracted to anyone, and they are all generally nice, competent and knowledgeable about anything ticket/booking related. I guess that’s an advantage of trying to book this promo in-country so to speak.

    The space do go fast. Garuda J space appear in KVS tool, and there were plenty yesterday on CGK-HND, CGK-ICN, and DPS-NRT routes. Today when I checked, most of them are gone.

    I think Lucky is correct. Garuda attempts to generate buzz and positive word of mouth with their hard and soft service. There are certainly enough premium passengers between Indonesia and Japan/Europe. but most of these passengers usually choose to go to SIN or HKG first. For most of these folks, they likely have someone to book all their travel arrangements so the not-so-first-world-friendly booking process is not a bother.

  15. I think it’s all about perspective. If most of your readers are Indonesia-based and took advantage of this promo, then all the comments will be positive! However, I’d think the average GarudaMiles member flies in economy that only earns 25% of flown mileage. In addition, GarudaMiles expire in 3 years though you can pay to extend the ‘life’ of your miles. This promo clearly targets this base. I’d also imagine $570 is not considered cheap in Indonesia. Either way, Garuda is getting a lot of buzz and probably positive buzz —– in Indonesia! 😉 I think it’s more the bloggers who have marketed this promo here in the USA in the miles/points community. No, I’m not taking advantage of this promo but I’ll certainly credit some of my skyteam flights to Garuda in the future so I’ll at least have 19,000 miles in there just in case Garuda chooses to have a similar promo in the future.

  16. I was able to book a ticket as well – did it immediately after reading your post yesterday.
    I first called their regular hotline, but after finding availability (which I had found through ExpertFlyer and confirmed on the GA website) and quoting the mileage required, the agent told me to call the First Class hotline to book.
    I did that, and the biggest advantage with the First Class hotline is that they don’t hang up on you. In fact, I got through right away.
    I then made a booking for me and my gf, split on two tickets, so that we wouldn’t exceed the maximum mileage you’re allowed to buy per year.
    They gave me the PNRs and asked me to contact their ticket office to pay and get the ticket.
    However, the FRA office was closed and the UK hotline told me they can’t help as they’re only a partner agency.
    Called GA again, and they told me that FRA wouldn’t be able to help me either, as that office, too, is just run by a partner agency. But the AMS office was an official GA outlet, and they should be able to help.
    I gave them a call today, and even though they seemed to be overwhelmed by requests, they were very friendly.
    The agent priced out the ticket and I didn’t have anything to do with the miles: She just gave me a total amount per person and sent me a payment form where I had to fill out the total amount, the PNRs and my credit card information.

    Btw, mixed class awards are possible! At first, the agent gave me the wrong number of miles (I booked AMS-CGK-BKK and there is no First class on the CGK-BKK flight). As the number of miles was higher than my own calculations, I asked if he was sure about the number, and it turned out he had gotten it wrong. I guess by default the system always uses the values for the highest cabin class, and the agent has to calculate the segments manually for the lower rate.

    Anyway, I don’t think there’s any availability left now. I’m very happy we have our tickets. Thank you very much for posting this deal.

  17. @ Adam

    Oh i’m not blaming Lucky at all for posting about it so much and being so excited…. it really is an incredible deal and of course he should be giving a US tint to things and making it relevant for most of his audience

    Its more the readers that are whinging about it being so difficult for them… when surprise surprise…. garuda’s main target audience are probably NOT US customers!

  18. There is no Chicago based office so the website with offices that Garuda has up is incorrect. I’d have to literally fly to NYC to ticket this offer.

  19. I phoned garuda indonesia first class line and they said the promo has been discontinued as of 24 december 00:01 am.

    I guess this is just like lottery ticket.

  20. It’s a ridiculous promotion and reminiscent of the Garuda of old, ie clueless when it comes to marketing their product. If they wanted to offer a ‘taste’ it would have been far more effective to do what Qatar has done: offer very significantly discounted premium class fares from selected cities.
    This jumping through hoops to buy points in a city in another country….crazy and will end up irritating more people than it attracts.

  21. @Marvin, are you saying that you were able to pay for both the taxes and the cost of buying the miles at the same time, over the phone, with the agents in Amsterdam? Which number did you call?

  22. @paolo

    To be fair garuda did that already on black friday and offered flights from london to melbourne for just over £1000 in business…. that really is a riduclous/incredible deal… think that was the deal lucky jumped on (well the first class one)

  23. All gone!!! Officially closed at 00:01 Dec 24
    Missed it by a few minutes. I hope you guys had better luck. I guess i failed at the first rule of the game- grab on to it the second you find it.

  24. Yes, you can book AND ticket redemption ticket for non account holder. And yes, you can send Garuda a power of attorney (letter of representation) so that you do not have to personally show up at their ticketing office to ticket the redemption booking. Just make sure you attach a legible copy of your ID (passport, etc) so they can easily verify that it is indeed you who sign on that power of attorney. Been doing this many times when I redeem my miles for fruends and family members.

  25. @Craig M:
    Yes, exactly. Or, not really over the phone. I called them and they emailed me the total amount as well as a credit-card authorization form. That was it. I never had to buy the miles myself or anything like that.
    I called the regular phone number of their AMS office.
    But I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore now.

  26. @Marvin:

    Thanks for your sharing, it really helps for the person who live in a city without Garuda Indonisia office!

    I held a booking but very panic of buying miles and issuing ticket, may I know if the phone number u dialed is +31 -20-5502600? @The Netherlands.

    Thank you very much!

  27. @Wilson:
    Yes, that’s the correct number. You can also try -2602 instead of -2600, but it goes to the same team, I think that just skips some options in the menu.
    That should do the trick, but I guess they won’t be available during Xmas (public holiday in most of Europe). But they should be available again from Tuesday at least.
    It there should be any trouble, feel free to reply here again with your email address (ideally in a masked form, so spam bots don’t pick it up), then I will email you the name and email address of the agent who processed my booking. I don’t want to publish that information for everyone to see. Good luck!

  28. Any data point how long it takes to transfer points from Citi ThankYou to Graruda Miles Account? Mine has been over 2 days and it hasn’t posted yet.

  29. After quite an ordeal (repeated calls to Garuda offices in various countries), and my local office seeking approval from Head Office, the confirmation which I held on 23 Dec was finally ticketed. Hurrah! It was only a business class ticket, but at 10% of the equivalent cost to buy the same flight (Apologies for being vague on locations, I don’t want to identify myself as I don’t think many tickets were successfully issued from this office.)

  30. @Marvin:

    Thank you very much for your reply, I already contacted Garuda Indonesia @Netherlands and got my ticket!!

    After replying an authorization document with credit card detail included, an agent managed to purchase miles needed and issue my ticket at the same time. I got my round trip first class ticket from CGK to AMS within one business day.

    Thank you again for sharing and your help would be really appreciated!

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