Outrageous: Garuda Indonesia Can’t Take Feedback

Filed Under: Garuda Indonesia, Media

Update: Garuda Indonesia has backtracked on their policy changes.

Oh Garuda Indonesia…

It seems that Garuda Indonesia isn’t very good at taking feedback from customers/those reviewing their flights. Several readers have emailed me regarding an incident that has unfolded at the airline over the past couple of days.

A popular travel vlogger from Indonesia, Rius Vernandes, recently posted a video on YouTube reviewing his Garuda Indonesia A330 business class flight from Sydney to Bali.

This wasn’t a perfect flight, to put it mildly. They ran out of all kinds of wine, there were no menus (but rather the crew had to hand write the menu), etc. Rius even talked to some other passengers onboard, and they had the same thoughts.

While I don’t understand everything going on in the video, I think I have a good gist of it, and the Indonesia readers that have emailed me regarding this have filled me in.

Here’s the video:

So, what’s Garuda Indonesia’s response to all of this? Are they thanking him for the feedback and realizing there are ways they could learn from his experience? Nope. Instead they’re simply trying to censor him.

First of all, Garuda Indonesia has issued a memo to cabin crew to inform them that passengers aren’t allowed to “document activities on the plane.” Here’s the memo, using Google Translate:

Following up on directives from management, all cabin crew are informed as follows:

  • Not allowed to document all activities on the plane, whether in the form of photos or videos by cabin crew or passengers.
  • Cabin crew must use language that is assertive in conveying the passenger ban for point 1 above except that they have obtained a permit from the company
  • The company will sanction if there is a violation of the above provisions

Thus it is conveyed to be known and implemented consistently. Thank you for your attention and cooperation. Enjoy your duty.

They also can’t wrap their head around how Rius got his hands on the menu. Rius posts a picture of the menu in all of his reviews, and this was no different — he explains that the flight attendant was trying to be helpful so wrote out the menu to be able to show passengers. I actually appreciate that, and I think this was the crew getting creative and it was management that made the mistake.

But Garuda Indonesia management can’t seem to wrap their heads around that. First they Tweeted the following:

“We would like to convey that this wasn’t a menu card for passengers, but a personal note for flight attendants that wasn’t supposed to be published. Thank you”

Garuda’s Corporate Secretary is making this sound like a conspiracy against the airline:

“We don’t know how he could get his hands on it. And if it was the menu card, other passengers should’ve gotten it either but no one shared it [other than him]. The question is where he obtained it from and why he’s sharing it, saying that it’s the menu card.”

Now as the latest update in the saga, Rius has allegedly been summoned by the police over defamation of Garuda Indonesia…

Bottom line

It’s absolutely mind-boggling that Garuda Indonesia thinks the way to deal with something like this is to try to punish the person who published it. They’re making this situation much worse than it has to be with how they’re acting.

They should have simply apologized, explained what happened, and share the steps they’ll take to avoid it in the future.

Instead they’re trying to censor people and go after them for defamation.

It’s especially ironic that Garuda Indonesia is trying to prevent people from documenting their onboard experience. Garuda Indonesia has some of the best onboard service of any airline in the world, and I’d argue that they’ve disproportionately benefited positively from people “documenting” their experiences with the carrier. Just check out my Garuda Indonesia first class review for an example of that.

But it seems like they can only handle positive feedback.

This whole situation makes me lose a lot of respect for the airline (not that I ever respected management that much, but rather just the frontline employees at the airline).

  1. Lol clearly they’ve never heard of the Streisand Effect.

    They wouldn’t even be on my radar (and probably many others) if it weren’t for blogs like this.

    This will be fun to watch unfold.

  2. Total Streisand effect here. Their insane response will draw so much more attention to this review than if they had just ignored it.

  3. Few years ago I was on a flight and they were running out of menus so I just quickly took photos of it so someone’s else could have the paper copy and save the CC a little work.

    Looks like on Garuda they’d want me in prison!

    Total over reaction from the airline management who anywhere else would say something like “sorry this isn’t our usual service but our wonderful cabin crew did their best to help our passengers enjoy their flight”

  4. It’s getting out of hand that every wannabe is vlogging everywhere and ‘reviewing’ everything now.
    Guys, just lean back and enjoy your life! Don’t disturb your fellow passengers and give them some privacy instead of taking a third-class video. There is already enough material for every major airline on YouTube, no one needs anymore of this.
    And pseudo-reviewing every aspect of your life will not make you happy, quite the opposite. Don’t take everything so seriously and if you want a real good dinner go to a michelin-starred restaurant. Or don’t you have enough money for this after paying for business class flights and camera equipment that you can barely afford?

  5. Although unrelated, Garuda Indonesia management is also caught in a bribery scandal recently. I suppose they’re just copying their government in how abusing the Justice system may give them the escape they wanted.


  6. They have also changed their LHR-DPS direct flight to LHR-KNO. Utter madness from them!

    1 GA 087 F5 A5 J9 C9 D9 I9 Y3 /LHR 4 KNO 2145 1625+1E0/777 IR 12:40
    WL B3 M3 K3 N3 GL

  7. The current management was selected by the Minister of State Owned Enterprises in late 2018 and in just less than one year has been in various controversies.

    Apparently, to make Garuda’s financial figures better, they start to scale service down significantly and cook Garuda’s book.

    Just weeks ago, the Indonesian Financial Services Authority and Ministry of Finance jointly fined Garuda and its Board of Directors and Board of Commissioners for improper revenue recognition, and freezed the auditor’s license for one year.

  8. @Max – Why does it matter to you whether people vlog or not? You can opt to not view or read them. It’s their choice—and as long as they’re not intrusive, there’s no problem. Besides, the guy has his own biz seat and is entitled to his own space.

    There’s unlimited space in the internet for videos and blogs and what have you.

  9. As someone who has worked for way too many years in Indonesia this comes as no surprise. The current GA management is very traditional and inward looking. Traditionalist Indonesia, from which many companies have escaped successfully by pursuing an open culture, goes by ‘Bapak selalu benar’, in other words, ‘do not challenge’.
    The fact this crappy memo came out does not surprise me looking at who is the GA management at the moment. What is more surprising is that GA used to have much better and more forward/outward looking management teams not even so long ago. This mistake to me comes on the account of Bu Rini, the SOE minister, who seems to prefer obedient robots rather than entrepreneurs running the SOE’s. Extremely disappointing. There was a time that GA was rapidly improving. Right now it is rapidly deteriorating. And I predict they will lose their 5* soon.

  10. Unfortunately, this is very typical in countries that don’t have strong freedom of expression/freedom of journalism protections/culture. The instinct is for the powerful, be they institutions or politicians, to just shut down criticism simply because they can.

  11. This incident seems to be consistent with series of poor decisions by management and steady decline in service quality across the board. From irregularities in their financial statements, selling only flexible Y class tix for domestic routes, to cutting back services dramatically (like providing food from fast food joint in domestic J and fewer perks for elite members), they are working hard to tarnish whatever is left of their reputation.

    Management probably won’t care since GA practically corner the market for domestic corporate travelers and without any significant competition, they can arrogantly treat their customers merely as cash cow. With this mindset, it’s not hard to see why they can’t compete in international routes. Why bother flying GA when you can easily use, say, SQ or NH?

  12. Garuda’s management simply reflects the desolate state of their government: corrupt, incompetent and nepotistic.

  13. I’m very sad to see how messy the airline has become, and the direction to which it’s heading for. I used to have no qualms about them, heck, with my brother living in Jakarta and myself in England they were always first priority, even with the DPS triangular routing. I guess I’ll jump ship to QR/CX/SQ until they clean up their act

  14. If you watch the video (captioned), the hand written menu was not the worst thing, but the fact that they totally ran out of all wines several into the flight was totally embarassing. The claim was that they only loaded 3 bottles of champagne for 40 business pax.

  15. This is why Indonesia’s airline industry needs more competition. A company with huge potential run by old school management who lacks any experience in the airline industry and micro-managed by the ministry who only cares about the economy, is only going to ruin itself further. I never have thought myself on doing this but I think Batik Air needs to begin levelling up its service and routes, to increase competition and nows a good opportunity for them to attract more customers.

  16. This is a wake up call to reviewers. Not all airlines are based in countries that protect personal freedom. We think that because some of us that live in the US/Canada/Europe/Australia, etc. can write a review and not face consequences, everyone else can. The world out there is not a garden of roses. It is not right but it is the reality. I am afraid that Garuda will be successful in prosecuting the reviewer. Same with the ME, tick off a ME3 and you might find yourself on a one way ticket to jail (search for the movies Papillon or Midnight Express).

  17. @max, what business is it of yours to tell people what they should or should not write about, let people earn their living the way they want to and those who want to read about it can. They are not intruding on anyone’s privacy at all. And besides, for someone who has a problem with travel bloggers, why are you reading one and commenting on it. Seems hypocritical to me. My advice to you is just “sit back and enjoy your life” in whatever way you choose, but stop telling other people how they should enjoy theirs.

  18. Indonesia recently passed an internet law limiting freedom of expression. I’m sure it was done with the best of intentions, like thwarting cyber crimes. We should keep these kinds of things in mind the next time we read something we don’t like online and are tempted to demand laws to fix the problem under noble pretenses like thwarting hate speech or fake news.

  19. Finally! Look, the crew of garuda indonesia is one of the best if not the best in the world.. but their management is so bad! They even serve business class pax a hoka-hoka bento fast food (FYI, its worth 2,5 usd on the ground) on business class! How embarrassing! I used to proud of my airline, but not anymore!

  20. I feel incredibly sorry for the hardworking crews at GA.. This might be one of the worst time to work in GA in recent years because this PR action has managed to make them as the nation’s laughingstock right now.. Is this continues on maybe my fellow Indonesians wouldn’t mind to privatize GA rather than seeing such a horrific airline associated with the homeland they love..

  21. @Max: Are you a psychologist or some sort of poll taker? Your comment speaks in such a broad / expert-like manner – where the majority of people you’ve queried have told you that they don’t like such coverage – and that such coverage makes them sad. Really?! I’d like to know where you get your intel from (and please spare me lame defense response: “it’s just common sense” – because it isn’t really….. and in your case, sense is truly far from common).
    Tell you what: Your time would be better spent creating and managing a site with content that does nothing but critique and complain about individual experiences and product reviews. How about that? I’m sure you’d make a fortune (especially from the legions of people you’ve polled)!

  22. @Harry Donaldson how did you get that information? Can you explain what all those numbers (F5 A5 J9 …) mean?

  23. Im a Garuda Platinum and I see how its spiraling downwords month by month.

    Ben, your rewiews are only of first class, and they are outdated. Business class Garuda has never been very good.

    Im already platinum in Qatar and more and more of my business goes to Oneworld over Skyteam, mostly because of the situation in Garuda.

    Its a disgrace how they handle this specific situation and typical of the direction the country is taking.

  24. This is a disgrace. Garuda management team should be ashamed. Nothing will be better unless the airline is fully privatized!

  25. No idea what they are doing. Their London service is a mess.

    Now they are flying to Medan. It was Gatwick via Amsterdam , moved to LHR to Jakarta then Denpasar. And now Lhr to Medan to Lhr

    As for inflight. It made the Jakarta post “ passenger faces defamation charge “.

    For an airline to even consider legal action for this incident is terrible.

    Shows they have no idea about customer service feedback etc

    This will completely backfire on them

    Are they claiming it’s illegal to make any complaint or negative comment ?

    The problem is in these countries is they have no customer relations comparable with Europe or North America

  26. On the Rius vernandes’s instagram account it seems he received a summons from the police. Shocking

  27. Could be a planned attack on Garuda.

    There is always another side of the story.

    Either, it is still a bad response from management.

  28. After the SJ group takeover by GA, there is practically a duopoly in Indonesia’s domestic aviation industries, (GA group and JT group), both groups cranked up ticket prices by more than 200% especially on routes not flown by QZ, and the duopoly cartel has even forced almost all online travel agent and ticket apps to kick out QZ listings from their app. To add salt to the wound, there are incompetent Minister of Transportation that cannot do anything, even saying that passengers should take the bus instead of complaining about the 200% price increase. The SOE minister and the consumer protection agency is also turning a blind eye to the cartel. And with this outrageous news, the yet uncompensated families of JT610 crash’s issue has been swept under the rug yet again.

    Shame on you, GA.
    I hope Skytrax revokes your 5 Star soon enough.

  29. @Paolo just wondering if your ‘cryptic’ statement has anything to do with those recent cyber attackers restrainment programs..
    You said it..I was thinking it

  30. “The airline later clarified that the directive had been withdrawn, but said that passengers are advised to respect other people’s privacy by not taking their photos.” – just found this in a news article on this

  31. I just read multiple Indonesian social media sites and online newspapers. Garuda management is being universally mocked, criticized, shamed, and attacked online for their stupid moves. There is a massive backlash from the Indonesian people about this rule and the company is frantically trying to backpedal from this damaging PR fiasco. It’s too bad that a few idiots in the company are tarnishing the entire company’s reputation by their dumb acts.

  32. I’m Indonesian, and haven’t even flown Garuda in over a year. As one person once put it eloquently: we have a national airline we can be proud of. That airline in Singapore Airlines. All Indonesians fly on SIA for long haul anyway. There was a chance sometime early this decade when it looked like Garuda could finally live up to it, but alas, no luck.

  33. Holy s**t Garuda! I never thought you would stoop lower than MH crew when Josh Cahill reviewed their flight.

    Being an Indonesian, I’m ashamed to see the defamation clause of the ITE Law being abused by yet another company. You can thank the former Minister of Communications for that.

  34. Haha so much fuss about wine and champagne running out on this flight. It is a regular occurrence on BA First in my experience of flying BA frequently. Doesn’t seem to cause a ripple. Wonder why that is the case.

  35. @Dani
    My reference was to the murder of human rights activist Munir on a Garuda flight from SIN to AMS ( poisoned with 3x lethal dose of arsenic put in his orange juice by a deadheading GA pilot on the direction of the then Garuda chief executive, himself directed by persons unknown but widely believed to be senior internal security figures). The pilot, chief exec and one other were convicted of this murder.
    I haven’t been on it since then ( c2004). I used to have a fondness for Garuda, particularly the “milk run” Australia to Europe: Sydney- Jakarta-Singapore/Bangkok-Karachi-Rome-Amsterdam..in the 70s.

  36. Ah the (post) hippie days ! Lots of uprunners that period..
    Me too I stopped flying Garuda though I have a lot of respect for their staff and pilots!

  37. I am Indonesian and still fly with Garuda. The people I flew with are nice and comparable with Qatar Airways or any other top flight. Few glitch here and there do not hinder me to support my country. And the comment re. Corrupt nepotism country…ah so yesterday. We are getting better and strrivng to be better. Never discount the progress we achieve

  38. @Ina

    If you read the post carefully, Ben actually praised the front line workers of Garuda. The flight crews are All Stars. It is upper management that really screw up big time. I am Indonesian too and I am pissed that they (Garuda management) have made us Indonesian a laughingstock by their never ending blunders!

  39. Everybody loves Garuda! Cintai Garuda! Fantastic crew.. fantastic pilots.. fantastic service.. In the air..
    Because on the ground and I mean in the management’s offices Garuda never adjusted to modern clients who want to pick.. choose.. decide on line.. Domestic and international.. If Garuda had followed the policies of the invader Air Asia I would have been a FF with them..Why was Yogyakarta cut off from abroad.. (for years I was forced to fly MAS until they too had to leave) why the insane price hikes..it looks like management is forever indecisive if not incompetent..
    No Garuda is not laughing stock. it has too much credits.. but it sure is known for its unstable policies on some international routes.. Reminding me of Etihad..

  40. I am a Platinum Garuda, fly two times a week, mostly domestic. Bought a ticket in Garuda web in May, they deducted my money but didn’t issue the ticket. Today, two months later, I’ve sent 19 emails, phone calls, twitters and have not received my money back. Just this morning I called (again), this time they said they didn’t response to my email because I reply the email instead of composing a new one. Confused? Yes, me too…
    This company need to start working on their ‘customer service’ or they’ll sink soon..

  41. This is sadly what is happening world wide, people are being silenced if you don’t agree, ie Democrats and social media silencing those that support your amazing President Trump.

    Sad reality and times everyone lives in. Thank you for the update and detailed post Lucky, really am glad we found this incredible site!

  42. Amper,

    Do you mean like “our amazing Trump” labelling all publishers of critical articles as fake news or enemies of the state?

    And to think, I used to be a Republican.

  43. Sounds on par with all Indon laws. Instead of correcting the “crime”, they go after the victim. Case in point: the school accountant who recorded the sexual advances of the headmaster. She got convicted of illegally recording the harassing conversation. He got away with a promotion.

    Like MH, GA must no longer become a state owned enterprise. They need a foreign CEO who will not cower into local politics.

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