Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class 777-300ER Amsterdam To London Gatwick

Filed Under: Garuda Indonesia, Other Airlines

Garuda Indonesia 88
Amsterdam (AMS) to London Gatwick (LGW)
Sunday, July 5
Depart: 10:30am
Arrive: 10:35am
Duration: 1h5min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 1A

This trip report for Garuda should actually begin by backing up to early June, when I purchased the ticket for a little under $340 one-way. By point of comparison, that was just fifty or so dollars more than economy tickets one-way on KLM or British Airways, so it was a bit of a no-brainer in that regard.

When you book the First Class ticket with Garuda, you’re told about the First Class Call Center in Jakarta which handles any and all requests a first class passenger might have. As previous trip reports have mentioned, Garuda is incredibly accommodating. They want you to have an outstanding experience, so the First Class Call Center (which also has an email contact, which was much easier for me) acts as a sort of concierge service.

To test out the experience in advance, I emailed and asked whether a meal would be served on the short flight, and whether it was possible to receive an amenity kit. I was told the meal would be a “cold fish” dish, and they’d be happy to provide a kit for my use (as, from what I understand, the kits aren’t ordinarily provided on the 45-minute leg). I emailed again to ask if it was possible to request a breakfast dish instead, but in the politest way possible was told they could only work to make the “cold fish” dish as breakfast-y as possible and didn’t have much leeway in that aspect.

I checked in to the First Class counter for Garuda at Schiphol Airport and check-in went smoothly. I was given an invitation to use the Aspire Lounge, though the check-in agent told me I was also welcome to use the KLM Crown Lounge. I asked her which was better and she shrugged and told me the KLM Crown Lounge was a lot closer to my gate.

Even though I was able to use a fast track security lane, I faced a very long line at passport control, which held me back a bit. I hadn’t really planned on using the lounge anyway, and boarding was scheduled to start at 9:30am, so I just headed to the gate.

Garuda 777 from the gate area
Garuda 777 from the gate area

The gate area was interesting insofar as the boarding pass scanning took place as you entered the waiting area. When I showed the agent my boarding pass, she confirmed with me that I was in First Class and she called over another agent to announce that I had arrived. The second agent led me to a seat near the boarding area and told me we’d be boarding in about twenty minutes.

Frankly, I wished I’d gone to the Crown Lounge when I’d had the chance, since there was literally nothing to do at the gate, and Schiphol’s air conditioning was working about as well as the Greek economy. Around 9:45, another agent came by to introduce himself and let me know we’d be boarding in just a minute.

Indeed, around 9:50 they opened up the gate and just before announcing priority boarding, an agent grabbed me and led me to the door first. As a rush of business class passengers and SkyTeam Elite Plus members followed me, the agent led me down the first jetway to the left, and swiftly closed off the jetway with a rope, instructing everyone else to use the other boarding door further down the jetbridge.

At this point, I was starting to get the idea that Garuda takes its First Class passengers very seriously.

As I got on the plane, I was greeted by three flight attendants, all of whom bowed and greeted me — by name, mind you — with clasped hands. The flight attendants were dressed in traditional Indonesian garb, and it immediately lent a feeling that this flight would not be your typical 45 minute hop across the Channel.

Garuda's first class cabin
Garuda’s first class cabin

I was led to seat 1A and a male flight attendant instantly offered to take my carry-on duffel and stow it for me. Though I humbly protested that it was no problem at all to do it myself, he was having none of it, and gladly took my bag from me with a wide smile.

Just as soon as I settled into my seat and stowed my tote bag under the ottoman, I was asked if I wanted champagne.

What other answer is there to give but “sure! What have you got?”

Garuda serves two champagnes in First Class: Laurent-Perrier Rosé, and Billecart-Salmon “Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart” Brut 1999.

I opted to start with the rosé champagne, since I can never turn down pink bubbly (and I figured the Billecart might be better off on its own with the inflight meal). The champagne was also served with macadamia nuts.

Laurent-Perrier rosé champagne on Garuda
Laurent-Perrier rosé champagne on Garuda

In the meantime, let’s talk about the seat, which was absolutely spacious. It was a true suite, with a door, although I never used the door given that I was the only passenger in First and it seemed unnecessary on a short flight. 🙂

Garuda Indonesia seat 1A
Garuda Indonesia seat 1A

Seat controls functioned from a digital pop-out screen off to the left, which worked marvelously. The seats had any number of massage features, and I tried all of them. I don’t know what to say other than that I’ve only seen massage functions on a few airline seats in my life, and this is the only one that truly felt like a $7,000 chair from Brookstone.

Seat functions
Seat functions
In massage mode
In massage mode

To the left of the chair was a very deep cubby containing noise-cancelling headphones, the television control, a bottle of Evian and plenty of storage space.

Storage area adjacent to Garuda first class seat
Storage area adjacent to Garuda first class seat

On the shelf space between the window and the seat was a beautiful box containing the amenity kit, as well as a leather tray filled with reading material (in English and Dutch).

Shelf space next to seat
Shelf space next to seat
Reading material provided by Garuda
Reading material provided by Garuda

As for the amenity kit, it was Loewe-branded. Loewe is a luxury brand out of Madrid, and the helpful note inside the kit informs that it’s actually pronounced “Low-ay-vay,” instead of like the hotel or movie theater chain I had been saying in my head.

Amenity kit pamphlet
Amenity kit pamphlet
About Loewe
About Loewe

The kit included a small bottle of unisex eau de cologne, as well as generous tubes of hand cream and face moisturizer.

Amenity kit box
Amenity kit box
Amenity kit contents
Amenity kit contents
More amenity kit contents
More amenity kit contents

These were certainly ample amenities to take care of me on my forty-five minute journey. 😉

With time to go still before pushback, one of the flight attendants, who introduced herself as Wi Wi, came by again and asked, “more champagne?” Who am I to decline that offer?

I also asked for an espresso. She replaced my dish of macadamia nuts with another fresh one.

Settling in
Settling in

It’s also worth mentioning the enormous high definition screen television, which was just stunning. The IFE works from on the ground, so I began right away perusing selections — I stuck to television shows, because of the short haul nature of the flight, but the selections were hugely extensive. I was impressed.

Garuda in flight entertainment system
Garuda in flight entertainment system

I decided to watch the show “Fresh Off The Boat,” which I’d heard good things about. It was actually quite funny, and despite the 45 minutes in the air, I was able to watch three full episodes.

"Fresh Off The Boat"
“Fresh Off The Boat”

The IFE was briefly interrupted by the safety video. As the flight attendants in the video bowed and clasped at the end of the presentation, Wi Wi came to my seat and bowed and clasped simultaneously. It was almost surreal, and required ballet-like precision.

Once we took off, the male flight attendant (whose name I forget and didn’t note, and I feel awful for not being able to call out his outstanding service by name as well) came by to offer me more champagne. I asked to try the Billecart, this time, and he gladly obliged.

Billecart-Salmon Brut 1999
Billecart-Salmon Brut 1999

At this time, he also set my tray table up for meal service.

Meal service setup, and more champagne
Meal service setup, and champagne pouring

Shortly thereafter, he brought out a tray containing a beautifully presented plate of smoked salmon on a bed of potato salad with capers and hard boiled eggs, accompanied by a breadstick and a bowl of fresh fruit.

Meal service
Meal service
Salmon on potato salad - yum!
Salmon on potato salad – yum!

Around this time, too, a flight attendant came by with a scratch-off card containing instructions on how to access the plane’s Wifi for free, which was a great touch.

Wifi access card
Wifi access card

The meal was incredibly delicious. I appreciated that it was both a “cold fish dish,” as promised, but was breakfast-y (since it was smoked salmon and had an egg). Anyway, it was certainly all the more impressive given the incredibly short nature of the flight.

More champagne... sure, why not
More champagne… sure, why not

Wi Wi poured me more Billecart at this point — now, to be fair, I was not guzzling the champagne by any means. I’d say this was my third glass of champagne, total. 🙂

This particular bottle of Billecart was outstanding, and may have been the best I’ve had in-flight — certainly preferable, to me, than Krug. It’s actually different than the “regular” Billecart-Salmon Brut that’s served in, for instance, Cathay Pacific business class. This particular cuvée retails for around $100.

Champagne served onboard at retail price
Champagne served onboard at retail price

Though we were already beginning our final descent and the seat belt sign had just been turned on, I asked to use the restroom (mostly just to check it out) and was told, “of course!”

The restroom is stocked with full-size Loewe amenities, as well as Evian facial spray and mouthwash. It’s fairly impressive.

Bathroom amenities
Bathroom amenities

Garuda doesn’t want you to squat on top of the toilet in the first class bathroom, which seems reasonable.

No squatting, sadly
No squatting, sadly

Very shortly thereafter, I returned to my seat to prepare for landing at Gatwick.

As soon as we taxied to the gate and parked, the male flight attendant handed me my carryon bags and led me directly to the boarding door and in front of the business class passengers, where an incredibly friendly British gentleman was waiting on the other side.

I got to see the business class cabin on the way out, which didn’t look too shabby, either.

Garuda's business class cabin
Garuda’s business class cabin

My escort was just amazing. He chatted me up about American TV shows as he led me through the maze that is Gatwick into the immigrations hall. The passport control area was chaos, and he led me directly to the front of the line, where he informed the attendant on duty that I was a “VIP passenger.”

I felt awful, but also amazing, jumping the line and I apologized profusely to the woman who was otherwise at the front of the queue. The escort stayed with me at the passport control desk and handed my passport directly to the agent and I was on my way in under 10 seconds.

Wow. Just, wow.

Garuda Indonesia First Class Bottom Line

I’ll repeat the subject line of the email I sent to Ben midflight:


The personalized level of service was extraordinary. And this was on a 45-minute fifth freedom leg.

I’ve been lucky to fly Cathay Pacific First Class before, and while it was just lovely, I never felt nearly as cared for as the wonderful staff on Garuda cared for me. It just felt so incredibly genuine, and they just wanted me to have an incredible flight.

And boy, did I ever.

It’s hard to judge an airline based on a 45-minute flight, and I’d love to fly them on a long haul someday. In the meantime, based on this little tiny Amsterdam-Gatwick one-way, I can tell you that:

  • The IFE system is the best I’ve used. The screen was magnificent. The selections were among the best I’ve seen. There weren’t endless ads as you’d find on Cathay or Virgin Atlantic. You select a movie or TV show, and it comes on immediately.
  • The two champagnes offered were incredible. I didn’t get the chance to try anything else, naturally, but the choice of two sparkling wines and the offering of a rosé was a really nice touch.
  • The seat was incredible, and I really appreciate the massage feature. I didn’t get to to try the seat out as a bed or test any of the mattress pads or what have you, but I’m fairly confident that it would be a remarkably comfortable sleep.
  • The service was simply phenomenal. Above and beyond. Everyone wanted to make my day special. I felt like a VVIP. And surely they knew I “only” spent $340 on a ticket, yet they treated me like their highest-valued customer.

Frankly, this flight was the highlight of my year in aviation so far, and one of the highlights of my entire trip, period.

It’s obviously the best way to get between Amsterdam and London.

It’s not cheap, per se, given the short distance, but the price of the flight isn’t overwhelmingly higher than the competition, and the time you save being whisked through immigration at Gatwick is possibly worth the price alone if you’re in a hurry.

I wouldn’t fly this route every week between Amsterdam and London unless I was a multimillionaire with a lot of time on my hands, but I will say this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is within a lot of people’s reach.

Garuda Indonesia has won my heart.

  1. Great review, Nick.

    Did the massage functions include moving rollers like a typical Brookstone massage chair, or just vibration?

  2. Great review – thanks Nick! I can’t believe they offer such high service for 45 min 😀

    On another note, we don’t usually get 2 trip reports on the same day. You need to now fill the blog with about 15 credit card referrals to make up for this mistake.

  3. Looks like they don’t want you to squat in front of the toilet either which is equally reasonable.

  4. Probably the best service you would ever get anywhere for just a 45 minute flight.
    I’m surprised they sell the seats, but probably will take the cash over empty seats, I checked the price for March 2016…..still around the same for garuda $355 or $42 one way with easyjet into Gatwick.

  5. First thing: great review. Really enjoyed it.

    Second thing:

    but there was so little flying…

  6. that’s awesome they give a Loewe amenity kit on a 1 hr flight… Emirates sometimes doesn’t give any kits on 6 hr flights…

  7. Squat toilets are pretty common in Southeast Asia, and sometimes people from the area aren’t used to sit-down toilets. This is why there was a no squatting sign in the bathroom.

  8. Nice review! For such a such flight, it’s impressive that you got such a good level of service!

    P.S.: I like the sign that says “Please be courteous to others”…!

  9. Ben, I’d love to see a post about Asiamiles! I don’t use it but it seems to be fairly valuable because you can redeem your miles for a wide variety of airlines and it’s a transfer partner for Citi. Do you have any experience with them?

  10. Great review. I considered this for my flight to AMS and then connect to CX to HKG but the timing doesn’t work 🙁

  11. Horrible comment about the Greek economy, you are rather culturally insensitive for someone who travels a lot and writes about it!

    I find it funny that this super-luxe service operates to/from LGW, a leisure and low-fare airport which is 1+ hour from London. I assume Garuda have been unable/unwilling to get LHR slots. So this may be the most luxurious product between LGW and AMS but high-rollers, businesspeople etc. are never going to trek to downmarket LGW instead of LHR/LCY just to use it. And I would imagine the sort of people who want a really high level of luxury would probably charter a jet for that trip anyway.

  12. At any point during this BEST. FLIGHT. OF. YOUR. LIFE. did you regret not having risen to the occasion by wearing something (anything!) more memorable than jeans and dirty sneakers? And when introduced to the Heathrow passport control officer as a “VIP passenger” by Garuda’s concierge, wouldn’t you have felt less “awful” if you’d at least looked the part?

  13. Is Garuda a member of any frequent flyer alliance which I could use my miles to fly this route?

  14. @@mkcol: Garuda is a member of SkyTeam, though if you collect Sky Miles be warned you can only redeem for travel in Garuda’s business class cabin — which is still excellent. All said, though, $340 for a paid first ticket is about as accessible as the product is going to get.

  15. It’s a sad day to see other posters attacking this blog and the person who wrote it. You all should be ashamed! How disgusting!!

    Nice post, Nick!

  16. I think it’s insensitive to wear such old shoes/jeans on the flight. But at least it’s paid vs. miles.

    Do you think dressing like the big lebowski is equally as good an option as making an effort?

  17. Nick, if you spent $340 on a flight, you can surely do better than those for shoes and jeans…

  18. Wow, looks like I’m not the only one complaining about the shoes. I’m sure you got the lesson by now Nick.

    Otherwise, great review and glad you splurged for it. There are so many good airline products and good hotels that simply aren’t covered because they’re not part of the blogosphere credit card-selling ecosystem.

  19. Holy crap, some readers just care about the cover of the book than the content. Do you look down on people wearing jeans and sneakers when traveling first class? Do you scoff in disgust when people with t-shirt and shorts waiting in line IN FRONT of you? I’ve seen people in suits and tie with self-centered and condescending attitude when they travel, so ‘looking the part’ should be the least of your worries.

    That said, good review Nick. Can’t wait to see you take a longer flight with Garuda to support your best flight raves.

  20. Thank you for the review, Nick! I flew Garuda business class from LGW-AMS last November and the experience was certainly notches better than any BA or KL flight on the same route. At Gatwick I recall the lounge used for GA J pax was the No 1 lounge.
    I hope to fly GA F someday on one of its longhauls. Ahh… Someday. 🙂

  21. Hey Nick,

    Nice review. It got me wondering. Where else does Garuda fly this particular plane? A 777 seems like overkill for this short of a flight.

  22. @Matt S.: It’s actually the tag flight to a much longer Amsterdam-Jakarta flight. So it’s really meant to (in theory, at least) ferry folks from Gatwick to Indonesia via Schiphol and back.

  23. Great trip report Nick!

    GA has had a tremendous transformation & is a fantastic airline to fly, whether it be F or J. It was a well kept secret here in South East Asia. Not any more LOL

    Anyway, I’ve been flying F/J the past 25 years & it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. Then again, maybe not PJs at the lounge. Really, only pretentious schmucks care.

    Keep the great reports coming. And don’t skip the lounge when you can. It adds to the knowledge base.

  24. Nice write up. Apparently all the Hi-So’s complaining about your wardrobe haven’t ever been in First with the likes of that greasy, smelly Russell Brand or that stinky Brad Pitt – dressed like a hobo. Last person I remember sharing the First class compartment with that was dressed decent in First was Tom Wolf on a Delta flight from LAX to ATL years ago.

    Get over yourselves, people who travel want to be comfortable, not fashionable.

  25. Hey everyone, stop busting on Nick’s jeans and shoes. Maybe he can’t afford it. I’m sure he ain’t pulling in the straight cash like Lucky.

  26. To the wankers who are attacking Nick for his dress sense I suppose you are all editors in chief of Vogue and you wear black tie on your supermarket runs? How thoroughly absurd that you think jeans and sneakers aren’t acceptable when flying. Flying can be a stressful enough activity for most and trying to be comfortable for the journey is hardly a crime against humanity. And if I’m flying in first class I’ll dress how I damn please, thank you very much. Short of wearing indecent or obscene clothes you can take your judgmental beady eyes and go take a hike.

    Nick, I regularly travel in SQ Suites and business class and almost always wear t-shirt and jeans or dress shorts because I dress for comfort, not the masses whose opinion of my look matter to me little more than a turd on the street I’d side-step.

  27. Can’t agree more with Al and others other the posers making just nasty and vile comments (“Nic shaoes” in particular, whose inability to spell highlights the lack of ability to articulate anything other than the lowest of gutter insults, over the most moronic issues).

    In case you missed the purpose of this blog, it’s for TRAVEL reviews and discussion. What a reviewer is wearing is completely irrelevant, and as many have commented here, jeans and sneakers are seen *all the time* in First and Business on most passengers. Furs and tuxedos may have been worn in premium cabins over half a century ago, but these days you’d be laughed at for being so pretentious.

    Compared to what you can see in premium cabins today (thongs/flip flops, singlets, or even people in their underwear as Lucky has also reported on) Nick is definitely on the right side of appropriate clothing (which is, clothing suitable for a high street cafe). Some people need a serious reality check!

    @Nick This report was well worth waiting for 🙂 It did not disappoint, and it’s pushed me to check out their First long-haul service (given how great this short leg went for you, I’m quite prepared to spend a revenue ticket for a long haul in this product on the basis of this review). That’s why I think it’s smart for airlines to offer these First tasters for people to try and report on – you are not going to drop $10K+ on a First long haul experience that you have no familiarity with prior, without getting a good idea of whether it is really worth it. In this case, I think you’ve shown it’s well worth the expense. Thanks Nick!

  28. Hey Nic, I still don’t get why this is your best flight ever? I mean 45 mins is too short time on a plane to label it as Best flight ever. Not like you got a lap dance. Anyway’s next time you travel Garuda ask them to sub the amenity kit for a decent pair of Kenneth Cole’s atleast. And seriously which classy guy calls the airline far in advance to ensure he gets a breakfasty type meal on such a short trip?

  29. @Kieran – You’re absolutely right, what a reviewer wears is completely and utterly irrelevant. I cannot believe how, after people have been banging on here about wanting a review on GA F, they finally have it and yet they are choosing to attack the review on an absolutely baseless ground. That is the height of idiocy.

    I would argue that deliberately dressing down might in fact result in obtaining a more accurate representation of service standards, since it forces the service provider (in this case the flight attendants) to put aside any prejudices and bias in their service delivery. Clearly, some of the twats on here will be ill-suited to a job in the hospitality industry.

    Not to mention that an increasing number of workplaces allow jeans and sneakers on casual Friday, let alone when you are travelling for pleasure on your coin.

  30. Interesting some readers picked up on the jeans/sneakers combo for 1st Class. It’s just as well it was not a BA flight as the Brits certainly would look down upon you in that situation. Their cabin crew are extremely judgemental and will treat you with indifference if you don’t meet their high standards! I guess the PJs (and slippers) supplied on long-haul flights are the great leveller!

  31. Hi Nick,

    Great review and thanks for sharing your experience with us all.
    Was US$340 a promo fare for this route ?
    The best I can find on the Garuda website is GBP438 which is about double what you paid.
    How did you book your ticket ?


  32. @Matt S
    Garuda flies the 777 on the following flights:
    GA88/89 Jakarta-Amsterdam-London Gatwick vv (3x weekly)
    GA88/89 Jakarta-Singapore-Amsterdam-Jakarta (3x weekly)
    GA980/981/982/983 Jakarta-Jeddah vv (2x daily)
    GA412/421 Jakarta-Denpasar vv (1x daily)
    GA874/875 Jakarta-Tokyo Haneda vv (1x daily)
    GA880/881 Denpasar-Tokyo Narita vv (1x daily)

    And there are rumblings that it could be introduced on a 4x weekly Jakarta-Frankfurt-Paris flight by as soon as the end of this year. It was also scheduled to fly Jakarta-Shanghai daily this winter, but it got nixed.

    Also, one more thing. The last 4 777s the airline takes delivery of will not have first class. They will be delivered in a 26J367Y config as opposed to 8F38J268Y.

  33. I must say I’m extremely shocked at some of the responses to this post.

    Clearly enough people are pooing on the toilet floor to warrant Garuda installing a sign that directs people to deposit their turd burglars into the purpose built receptacle.

    Instead, most people have taken exception to dirty Nick’s filthy footware? What’s the world coming to?

  34. @Matt S

    Garuda fly the AMS-LON run because the runway surface in Jakarta is not strong enough for 777 to take off with a fuel load need to reach LON nonstop without causing damage to the runway if I remember correctly from what read back when the Jakarta-AMS-LON flight started.

  35. @Romeo: What kind of classy guy associates “best flight ever” with getting lap dances from female flight attendants?

  36. Anyone who is looking to redeem Korean Airline miles on Garuda F, you are out of luck. KE can only book Garuda business class due to booking code issue.

  37. Possibly the most extensive flight review ever. Truly appreciated.

    Haters can go swallow a knife.

  38. It might be worse noting that the price mentioned is only for the AMS-LGW direction, LGW-AMS one-way is more than twice the price! (Though you can get the return AMS-LGW-AMS for less than $600).

  39. @AC What booking code issue? I’m aware there’s something that’s preventing KE from booking F, but can you elaborate?

  40. OMG OMG OMG I can’t believe it, the shoes, and the jeans in first class. I cannot read this blog anymore. Seriously, some people need to get a grip on life. Or see a therapist.

  41. @ Nic shaoes, whilst highly inappropriate that is the funniest comment I have ever seen. Had tears rolling down my cheeks I was laughing so hard

  42. @ Farnorthtrader — Unfortunately this isn’t bookable with Korean Air miles, but rather only Garuda miles. You could redeem Korean miles for business class, however.

  43. C’mon, guys…

    It’s not often I chime in about the direction of comments, since I tend to think they reflect more on the commenters than the people they’re commenting on. But in this case I really feel like this is unnecessarily mean-spirited. Let’s talk about a few things here:

    — Jeans. Maybe I missed the memo, but since when is it not appropriate to wear jeans in international first class? In my over million flown miles in international first class, I’d say that’s the norm rather than the exception. Are people wearing suits on longhaul flights? Because that sort of seems like posting to me. A nice pair of jeans should be perfectly acceptable clothes for a flight in international first class. Or are people judging the quality of the jeans? Because I sure can’t see what brand they are.

    — Shoes. Do I love them? No. But I know Nick well, and he has lots of great shoes (clearly not pictured in this case). And if one person points out the shoes, I think that’s fine. Or maybe even two. Or three. But to say pictures with the shoes have to be removed, and to call him a “grubby [email protected]” over them… really? Lots of people have theories as to me somehow getting “special treatment” during flights. If you’re going to claim that Nick boarded in a way that wasn’t “acceptable” for international first class, wouldn’t that be a good thing, since he’s getting a truly “honest” experience? And if that’s your impression, doesn’t it say a lot about Garuda service that he got such excellent service?

    — Greek economy joke. It’s humor, folks. My single greatest goal in life is to make people smile, whether that comes in the form of making them laugh, or whatnot. Nick is one of the funniest people I know. It was a humorous comment, and I thought it was funny. Of course not everyone else will, and that’s fine… because everyone has a different sense of humor.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re going out of your way to spend your Friday evenings calling someone on a travel blog on the internet out about their shoe choice, that probably says more about you than it does about them. I’ve literally been asked dozens of times for a review of Garuda first class, and here Nick finally flies the product and spends hours writing an (objectively) useful review about it… and *that’s* what people focus on?

    Getting off my soapbox, now… and thanks for reading! :p

  44. @No Name: that is actually the reason Garuda now is flying through SIN on the way to AMS and LGW. They used to fly directly CGK-AMS.

  45. Apparently a lot of (British) people have a bone to pick with Nick over his Virgin Atlantic Upper Class review.

  46. Garuda’s first class looks amazing, and I’d love to try it, but it looks like Garuda’s safety record is not that great (or at least was not that great in the past). Any signs that the safety record has improved? In general, are there any safety statistics you take into account or websites you use to determine an airline’s safety before flying that airline?

  47. Thanks for the review, Nick.

    Perhaps the only “truly aspirational” product left since the only readily obtainable currency to redeem is ca$h?

    Guess I could do a KickStart—- oh, never mind! 😉

  48. @W,

    Last time I checked, for this winter schedule, they have not load the flight NRT-DPS (not bookable). Also the HND-CGK is operate by A330 so there will be no First Class to Japan this winter?? weird!!!!

    They may end up having it but so last minute change? I wanna buy their First Class flight on NRT-DPS but can’t find the flight 🙁

  49. @ Michael C — Great point, and sort of an area where Garuda Indonesia, China Airlines, Korean Air, etc., are in the same boat. Historically they have less than stellar safety records, while in recent years they’ve been good. I really do believe that there has been a fundamental shift in cockpit culture over the years, and planes being more advanced/having redundant systems doesn’t hurt either. Ultimately some airlines are statistically still safer than others, though personally I’d have no qualms flying Garuda.

  50. 1. I’m a pro-Greek journalist who just got back from Greece. Nobody there would be offended by the Greek joke. Greeks have a sense of humor about how screwed they are. Get a life.

    2. Jeans and sneakers are what successful people wear in first class. Unless you’re a member of Britain’s House of Lords, you needn’t wear formal attire in first class (Zuckerberg doesn’t.) If you insist that everybody does, you’re a pretentious wanker.

    Nick, I’m enjoying your posts. But Ben, you’ve got to assert control over these trolls. “Nic shaoes'” post shouldn’t have stayed up for more than a minute. Calling someone a “cunt”, for no reason, degrades the experience of reading this blog. Too late now. But Nick didn’t deserve this.

  51. I just noticed that the second picture in the sign with “no squatting” – which has an English translation of “please be courteous to others” – doesn’t actually say that in Indonesian, instead stating “it is prohibited to (pee/poo) outside the closet”. That’s a direct translation, and as such I can see why Garuda opted to just make it easy for themselves.

  52. @Josh Taking into account that we have ridiculous and frequently profane posts from gutter trolls regularly occurring on Nic’s posts (Lucky and Travis get them too, but Nic unfortunately seems to get more than his fair share), I’m of the view that the vile nastiness being shown by a few drop-kicks (who I’m pretty sure post via multiple handles) has absolutely zero to do with anything in the articles themselves and are just thinly disguised campaigns of harassment and hate attacks. These hate posts are very sad, but not as sad as the very likely mentally disturbed people posting them.

    The inability for these people to express themselves like grown adults, and to get a grip, is it’s own indictment on them. I hope they find a balanced mind, because ultimately they are just destroying themselves.

    I agree with you Josh, it’s always very clear when Nic is being tounge-in-cheek, and he’s never said anything that’s crossed the line (as you yourself clearly indicate, in your own example). It’s all just certain individuals using it as an transparently thin excuse to cover a personal hate campaign – which is truly tragic in all respects.

  53. What a great report! Thank you Nick for writing such an extensive report for such a short flight. It really shows that GA’s F is still one of, if not, the best F out there

    I flew Garuda’s F on CGK – NRT – CGK back in September 2013 (Trip Report published as well on Flyertalk) and that was indeed the best F experience I had ever had beating SQ’s Suite and SQ F experience hands down. It amazes me how there is no difference in the warmth and the treatment of its F passenger whether it is for long, medium, and its short haul passenger. Good job, Garuda!

  54. Just a quick note of thanks to Kieran, Josh, Al, Ben, et al. who have leapt to my defense so that I (mostly) don’t have to engage the trolls myself.

    Frankly speaking, blogging for Ben is not my day job but something I do for fun on the side. I’m still getting my sea legs and I’m not really well versed with the world of blogging or being a semi-public figure on the internet generally. As easy as it is for people who have been doing this for years to brush off a few snide or nasty or ad hominem comments, there’s a part of me that truly stings from reading this stuff. I know, as Ben pointed out, that people who are trashing my fashion choices on a Friday night are not exactly the cream of the crop of the world, but it’s still very heartening to hear folks say GOOD stuff on the internet, too.


  55. Dear Nick,

    Thank you for this review and salutation. It is much appreciated.

    We really are, concerning to all passenger and serving them as a King.

    It’s such an honor to have a gladly passenger around Europe, since it’s our newest flight after the tough past years.

    We will always continue to please our passenger and look forward to see you soon above the sky.

    Warms Regards,

    Sulistyo Nugroho on behalf of Garuda Indonesia

  56. @TEX277 – If you think calling someone a c*nt is equally as profane as wanker or twat you are obviously and hopelessly mistaken.

  57. Nick – please do continue to contribute as it is refreshing to read posts from different perspectives (Tiffany’s posts make for equally good reading too). I can imagine it must sting to read such vile and unnecessary comments but hopefully they slide right off like water off a duck’s back. Don’t take it to heart!

    On the topic of those shoes, does anyone else here agree with me that they don’t actually look *that* bad? I mean, I’ve seen a LOT worse and I’d take dirty closed footwear any day over dirty open footwear, like slippers.

  58. Nick, your reviews make me laugh… a lot. Please don’t change your style! Or your shoes! Cons rock.

  59. It’s (in most cases) not what you wear but how you wear it…
    Got to check out Garuda, they have never been on my radar, I have to admit, so thanks, Nick.

  60. Been flying Garuda in J since 2000, mainly Sydney to Denpasar, to my home in Bali, done some internal flights DPS CGK, DPS YOG DPS, and some intra asian flights as well, all in J.

    Only had 1 poor experience in all those years and that was in 2005, had some great deals over the years, and this is an airline that is really good.

    None of your experience in F comes as a surprise to me, this airline is amazing, and all those who poo poo the idea of flying GA works for me, as it means there is more space for me on board.

  61. I am Greek, currently in Greece witnessing the financial struggles. Nick’s Greek joke made me laugh.

    As Josh wrote, Greeks do have a sense of humor.

  62. Garuda’s new product is a copy of Etihad’s current product on its A340 fleet. Impressive, but no more impressive than the best out there. I do wonder how Garuda justifies its first class offering since, from what I heard, paid first class passengers are very scarce to/from Jakarta.
    Also, your dish was nothing more than a potato salad with salmon that you could get for 10 euro at most decent cafes in Amsterdam. Well presented, sure. But CX on HKG-TPE offers many more options.

  63. Nick, thanks for the review. Very informative. Shoes are fine. Whatever you feel comfortable wearing is fine with me. Interesting fact, a First class train ticket on the Chunnel/Eurostar, changing to the Thalys in Brussels, is far more costly than this 1st class airfare. The train ticket is $500 to 600 versus the $340, you paid. $340 is something I can afford. So, I might try this flight. Lucky needs to do another posting about these short, affordable 1st class flights.

  64. I’ve heard only good things about Garuda and hope this continues, cos I would like the service to be like so when I do end up having the money to travel with them haha. #AirAsiaForNow

    Love this post and what you’re wearing is fineeeeee.

  65. @ JohnB – Agreed… @ lucky, how about a post about short-haul super-premium class flights? (I often notice that Emirates has competitive business fares across the Tasman Sea, for example, with a product that far surpasses the regional aircraft that its competitors offer on those routes.)

  66. Yes… I’m sure lots of people feel very downmarket heading out to Gatwick before their flight to MLE or BGI.

  67. @Lucky – Thank you for the reply! If possible, would you be able to elaborate slightly? Are there any factors besides developments in cockpit culture and redundant systems in modern aircraft in your having no qualms about flying Garuda? Are there any airlines you would never fly?

  68. @ Michael C — Hmmm, not any alliance airlines I wouldn’t fly, to be honest. I’m sure there are some others I’d think twice about, but certainly not Garuda, personally.

  69. So I keep trying to book this for 4th Nov, yet no matter what provider I use I keep hitting a barrier – initial price is around £223pp, then when I click to confirm it comes back with an error & the price has jumped another 60 Quid or so. Was having this problem this AM so thought I’d leave it, but no 12 hours later & it’s the same.
    Anyone any ideas?

  70. @mkcol – Garuda’s website is kind of wonky, and it has plenty of bugs. Try booking through a third party.

  71. Michael C – I know that GA had some challenges with its safety record, firstly we must remember that in the tropics the weather and wind shear can be major issues, coupled with the attitude of pilots from the reason, to go around is to lose face. Not supporting that viewpoint just stating it.

    I do know that GA does a lot if not all of its pilot stimulator training with Cathay in Hong Kong, the reason I know this is I am on FB with a Garuda pilot and notice he is often in HKG doing his stimulator sessions. I would therefore say that the training of GA pilots is equal to CX.

    Re the reference to GA website being kinda kooky, true , if it works the first time use it. However I have on ocassions rung the office, Sydney is my local and very good, flights are confirmed on the spot, an email with the credit card authority is emailed instantly, and once scanned or faxed back the eticket is processed within the hour, and emailed.

    My last transaction was two reward flights, SYD CGK and CGK KUL, now this was complicated, as I was using my miles SYD CGK with a top up (garuda miles can be purchased), and my partners miles CGK KUL with a top up. Had done all the research knew how many miles I needed to buy, etc.

    I expected the phone conversation to be difficult. In reality it lasted less than 5 minutes, those flights are booked Sir, emailing you the reward forms, the credit card forms for the top ups, arrived within minutes, signed faxed back, sent an email saying they were faxed back, tickets issued within the hour.

    I read lots of comments on forums of the top tier alliance airlines, and service like that is hard to find.

    Give Garuda a go if they are in your area, they are much improved

  72. @W Thanks – I find Garuda’s site fine actually. And I was using 3rd party sites to try to book eg: Opodo, Expedia, AMEX travel etc etc. They all say there are only 3 seats left at that price, then the error comes up when I’ve entered all my details & clicked the BOOK button :'(
    I happened to notice on Garuda’s site, after fannying around with all the others, that they say that flight is sold out. Hmmmmm……

  73. It sounds like you had a really fantastic time. Though I would have to say, any airline who doesn’t treat it’s first class passengers with respect is asking for trouble. First class tickets are extremely expensive, so they’d better be massaging your feet. The only thing that gives me pause about Garuda is my dealings with them as a travel agent. I was assisting an economy class customer (one of the prols) and unfortunately the agent from their travel agent hotline refused to help me. They told me I had to call the UK office (which doesn’t exist) and promptly gave me a private citizens home phone number. That’s really low if you ask me. The correct answer is to say “I’m sorry but I can’t help at this time, please call back when a supervisor is on duty, etc”.

  74. In reference to all of comments regarding the Greek joke. If the Greeks don’t want to be the butt of everyone’s jokes, then maybe they should consider trying a little harder to fix the economy instead of blaming everyone else for their economic woes. Most people in Europe have no sympathy for a country that takes from every other country and then resists every small change. Ireland was in exactly the same position as Greece, they swallowed their medicine and now are one of the top performing economies in Europe.

  75. I understand if you fly economy class from Gatwick on Garuda to Amsterdam you can pay a surcharge to upgrade to Business. like 200 pounds or less I believe.

  76. I flew Garuda 777 from Jakarta to Amsterdam to London Gatwick in June 2015 and back from Amsterdam to Jakarta in July 2015 and while it was only in the business class cabin I agree that they offer a fantastic service in the air with their entertainment, amenities, food, seats and service.
    However on the ground in Jakarta and Denpasar they leave a lot to be desired which is a shame as it brings the overall experience down significantly.

  77. I learned Indonesian as a second language and noted that the sign in the bathroom that says in English “Please be courteous of others” while it actually says in Indonesian “Don’t poop outside of the toilet.”

  78. Well done James (comment above me) for utilizing your second language skills to spot the cultural attenuation when Garuda staff translated that message in the bathroom.

    As a native Indonesian speaker I can confirm that the complete nuance of the message says “Don’t poop outside of the toilet, unless you’re wearing a nice suit and designer dress shoes, in which case go right ahead, Sir!” 🙂 🙂

  79. It’s very pleasant to read this review. To feel someone else’s shoes .
    I’m very happy that you enjoyed the service!
    As a one of the garuda indonesia’s flight attendant, i hope that you feel indonesia’s touch in every moment you’ve spent in our cabin.
    Hope to see you in first class cabin again, in long-haul flight.. To indonesia!

  80. Nice review, hope you enjoy GA F. Maybe you should try at longer routes later
    And for those commenting fashion here, can you shut the your whore mouth off ? Please.. You’re annoying as hell. This is travel review, not fashion review, you son of a bitch

  81. Hi Nick – Thanks for the review. I would like to try this out.

    Any ideas
    – if this route / flight exists, as I can’t get the Garuda website to work
    – on how to book

    Thanking you in advance

  82. Dress like a slob but with nicer garments… thanks… seriously your mom needs to clearly throw out your tennis shoes… also when flying first class you should dress like a decent human being (possibility of cute flight attendant and/or passenger, etc.)

    The Greek joke was hilarious and stop crying about the economy… just take a trip there and bet you won’t complain (cheap as heck right now)

    One last thing… there really needs to be a push for airlines in the U.S. to up their game…
    seriously why does AA even have a first class for international flights…

    such a joke… ok im done ranting

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