Last June, I flew on Garuda Indonesia flight 412 from Jakarta to Denpasar which was my first time flying with a Boeing 777-300ER. I did not make a trip report as I did not have much time to write (although I had a lot of pictures), so I missed a potential blog post. Thankfully, last month my mom asked me to look for a flight to Bali. Indonesia AirAsia (QZ) actually offered very cheap ticket, 300K IDR one-way on December 17th, however my brother had to be in school on December 20th morning to take his report book so I could not buy the ticket. Then I looked at tickets for December 20th, and a one-way Garuda ticket costed only less than 100K more expensive than the cheapest (perhaps Lion Air). With additional 100K you can get a widebody aircraft, food, baggage, comfort, in-flight entertainment, more pride, and pretty flight attendants, so there you go!
Since my brother envied at my last trip to Bali, he wanted to fly with B77W also. Then I looked for which flight is using B77W to Denpasar. Surprisingly Garuda now deploys B77W on 3 CGK-DPS flights daily. Last June it was only GA412, departing from Jakarta at 17.05 WIB; now we have GA402, GA410, and GA412. GA402 is an early morning flight and GA410 is an afternoon flight which may not be reached on time from Planet Bekasi, so no other choice than GA412 (again). The difference is that now GA412 departs at 19.55 instead of 17.05.
I arrived at airport at 6 pm, after traffic jams on tollroad near the airport. It was a rainy evening. And when I went to the check-in area… Man, holiday season. Very crowded. I spent around 30 minutes in the check-in counter alone. After that, I went straightly to the gate. I checked flightradar24 and found out that the plane (which I flew in) was still in… Jember. Ok another delay. I had been checking the history of GA412 and a lot of delays had happened because the B77W used had a lot of flights with only 1-1.5 hours of space time between flights. If one delayed, the following flights will be delayed also. With the congested Soekarno-Hatta Airport… You know what to expect.
As there was still a lot of time, I walked around all gates in Concourse F. And I found out the common things between all gates: There were a lot of nasi kotak. And you can conclude: a lot of delayed flights today for Garuda. That’s not a good thing as a new 5-star airline. And finally the delay was official: it was announced that my flight was delayed to 21.00 – 65 minutes of delay. Quite reasonable as the PK-GIE arrived at 20.05 at the gate. Thankfully the delay was not extended as finally the boarding call was made at 20.40, although I knew 20 minutes of boarding time will not be sufficient for such a huge aircraft, except if it is barely filled.
I entered the plane and directly went to my seat: row 36. The same row as my last GA412 flight, but this time 36A was taken by my brother so I booked 36C. It was strange that I booked an aisle seat, but I had a plan. When I was putting my bag on the overhead cabin, I told my mom “If there is any empty window seat, I will move there”. Suddenly a flight attendant replied me, “Sorry Sir, but this is a full flight”. I was amazed. Last time I flew with GA412, the plane was barely above half filled. My return flight with GA423 was even poorer even though it was using much smaller Airbus A330-200. So although it is holiday season, but still good job Garuda!
The plane finally took off at 21.30, quite bad I think especially if some passengers were transit passengers in Denpasar. Soon after the plane climbed, IFE was turned on. My brother was surprised because there was “Tetangga Masa Gitu” comedy show on the IFE, starring his favorite actress right now, Chelsea Islan. For me, since my father told me there was going to be a football match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at 22.00, I chose Live TV. Watching live football match from above was really a new experience hahaha.
When the plane was above Cirebon a flight attendant came with the dinner, but now it was directly given because the menu was only seafood noodle. Last time I remembered I had more choice, but anyway the food was still tasty (and the portion was still too little for big eater like me). Maybe for my return flight I had to pre order the meal so that I may get more food.
Flying from Jakarta to Denpasar was too short to enjoy all features offered by Garuda. By the time I finished dinner, the plane was already over Surabaya and not much time left. I listened to some music then and shortly after the plane landed in Denpasar. The landing was smooth – as usual from Garuda, much smoother than Lion – and yeah, I am back in Bali. I like the feeling of being in this airport, better than Soekarno-Hatta (although I still prefer Changi).
After getting off the plane, I was carried to domestic arrival area by bus because the plane was parked at international terminal (it was going to fly to Tokyo Haneda after this flight). Then I went to baggage carousel and waiting for my baggage. Long enough… It took me around 30 minutes from the time I arrived at the carousel to the time when my last baggage came. Big plane might be an excuse, but a big international airport should be able to handle a big plane right? A homework to Angkasa Pura to improve performance.
Overall, I was satisfied with the flight. With the fact that I have never flown with foreign full-service carriers other than Turkish Airlines in the past 3 years, I cannot compare the experience with other 5-star airline such as Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific. However, the service level given should be good enough. The main problem for Garuda is maybe on-time performance. I really do not know why Garuda utilizes its B77W too much, and a delay can highly impact the following flights. They do know really well that its main base is well-known for the congestion, and they should try to anticipate any worst case. Hopefully on my return flight the on time performance will be better…