Garuda Indonesia Returning To London… Without First Class

In August, I wrote about Garuda Indonesia’s decision to cease flying to London Heathrow. Garuda has an interesting history with London, as I wrote at the time:

  • In 2014 Garuda re-commenced flights to London Gatwick (following many years of suspension because of safety restrictions placed on the airline). This flight operated as a tag flight continuing on from its Jakarta to Amsterdam service.
  • In 2015, Garuda shifted its London operations from Gatwick to Heathrow after securing a valuable Heathrow landing slot and commenced non-stop flights to Jakarta, eliminating the Amsterdam tag stop. Until Qantas’ direct flight from Heathrow to Perth, the Heathrow to Jakarta flight held the title as the longest non-stop flight from Heathrow.
  • Flights from Jakarta to Heathrow stopped at Singapore along the way, as flights of this length could not take off from Jakarta with sufficient fuel as the runway was, at the time, too weak to handle that much weight. Return flights from Heathrow to Jakarta operated non-stop.
  • In September 2017, the Jakarta runway was strengthened, allowing the flights to run non-stop between Jakarta and Heathrow in both directions, and the flight has operated three times weekly ever since using their three class Boeing 777-300ER, including their incredible first class which Ben reviewed here.
Garuda Indonesia First Class

Garuda stopped flying from London on October 28, leaving Amsterdam as their only European destination.

Several people commented that there were rumours of some sort of resumption of the flight. Some people said the flight would return without first class, while others said that the flight would operate from London to Bali (Denpasar) instead, as there was more demand to this leisure destination, than the capital of Jakarta.

Airlineroute is reporting that Garuda Indonesia will restart non stop Jakarta – London Heathrow flights from November 27 2018, three times weekly with the following schedule:

  • GA86 Jakarta to London Heathrow departing 12:05PM arriving 8:00PM (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays)
  • GA87 London Heathrow to Jakarta departing 9:55PM arriving 7:10PM (+1) (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays)

Most notably, the flight will be operated by a two class Boeing 777-300ER, which does not feature Garuda Indonesia’s well known and very well regarded first class.

Garuda Indonesia First Class

Garuda currently only has two 777-300ERs with first class (PK-GIF and PK-GIG), which they currently only seem to be operating to Tokyo Narita and Tokyo Haneda.

From what I can gather Amsterdam is now also a two class aircraft, meaning there are no more “true” longhaul Garuda Indonesia flights with first class.

Bottom line

While it is disappointing to see that the resumed flight will not feature first class, it is good to see Garuda return to London.

I had wondered if British Airways might take up the route if Garuda permanently suspended it, as it seems like it would be a good ‘long, thin’ route their Boeing 787-8s (also without first class) were designed for, and BA already flies to a number of cities in Southeast Asia.

If you were booked on the route before it was cancelled you were probably rerouted to depart via Amsterdam (with the London – Amsterdam leg on Sky Team partner KLM). You should be able to move back to the direct flight by contacting Garuda Indonesia — they may move you back anyway.

What do you make of Garuda returning to London?

Comments

  1. First I thought “they can’t be serious..” before I remembered that they sacked their previous CEO who tried to get the airline back to black. With a schedule like that, I still wonder how they’ll fill 393 seats!

  2. @Ray
    Btw Garuda’s 777 economy are in 3-3-3, so they can easily get slightly above 430 total seats just by adding an extra seat per row in.

  3. @chub hopefully not. They should know their consumers are just going to jump ship to SQ/Emirates if they add an extra row. Fingers crossed they’re aware of that

  4. Wow! Garuda F is one of the best F class experiences I ever had. Hopefully GA will bring back F on that route.

  5. That timing is horrible. Also, GA’s European flights are priced higher originating from Indonesia than competing airlines like SQ, EK, EY, QR, heck even KLM most of the times have better fares. If they want to really capture the market they need to market this flight better and price it better.

  6. @chub there a reason why south East Asian airlines barring PAL does not configure their 777 10 across. Price no doubt is sensitive but legacy carriers do not compete straight againts LCCs in that region. They run a very different parent and child business model where the legacy owns the budget, hence airlines like SQ, TG and GA keeps the 9 across in their 777s to keep them premium.

  7. Garuda has pulled an Oman Air here. WY will fly F only to London, whereas GA has removed F from London and AMS and put it on HND/NRT instead.

  8. @Benn18 A333 doesn’t have the range, though? I suspect they’ll keep the 77W until they have their A330-900neo with the B/E Super Diamond seats

  9. I’m very happy!!! I’m an Indonesian UK-based resident. I fly to jkt at least 4 times a year and I’ve been flying Garuda since they started the Heathrow route. Their service is excellent, both eco & bus classes. It does make such a huge difference flying direct. Their business class seats are quite competitive, but not economy. Let’s hope their ticketing improves so they can compete with SQ, Qatar, Etihad, etc.

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