Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Bangkok to Jakarta (Boeing 737-800)

In this review, we will take a Garuda Indonesia business class flight on the Boeing 737-800 from Bangkok to Jakarta.

Boarding

After spending some time at the very good Air France/KLM lounge, it was time to head to the boarding gate for my Garuda flight to Jakarta. The gate was only a few feet away from the lounge entrance and boarding began within minutes after my arrival, with business class passengers and SkyTeam elites asked to come forward first.

I was quite excited about the flight as it would mark my first international flight on Garuda Indonesia, so far having only flown the airline ones on a short domestic hop from Jakarta to Yogyakarta.

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Walking towards my departure gate at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport ©Paliparan
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The Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 is already parked at the jet bridge. ©Paliparan
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The gate for my Garuda flight to Jakarta. ©Paliparan
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The gate for my Garuda flight to Jakarta. ©Paliparan
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The Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 from up close. ©Paliparan

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) to Jakarta (CGK) on Garuda Indonesia
Flight GA867 – Boeing 737-800 – Business class, seat 6A
Departure: 2.10p
m – Arrival: 5.45pm
Flight time: 3h35m – Distance: 1,420 miles
Costs: 57,500 Flying Blue miles + 115.03 EUR in taxes for a BKK-CGK-NRT award

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The flight from Bangkok to Jakarta takes just over three-and-a-half hours. ©Great Circle Mapper

Garuda Boeing 737 business class seat

The primary narrow-body plane in the Garuda fleet is the Boeing 737-800 – the airline has a whopping 73 of them. These aircraft do not only serve destinations around the vast Indonesian archipelago but also mid-haul flights in Asia such as this Bangkok route.

The cabin exists out of 3 rows of comfortable recliner seats, bringing the amount of seats in the business class cabin to 12. The relatively small cabin size gives the business class section an intimate feeling. The small touches, such as the grey-and-white chequered bulkhead and divider walls as well as the red-and-grey seat fabrics, added a bit of elegance to the cabin.

There are power sockets and reading lights at each business class seat, although the plane is not equipped with WiFi. Each seat does however its own in-flight entertainment screen hidden in the armrests.

Even though there was a bit of wear and tear on this 10-year-old bird (aircraft registration number PK-GFH) and the seats itself are not groundbreaking, it is a very comfortable seat for a mid-haul flight like this. The recline was decent, the seats well-padded and I had plenty of legroom in my bulkhead seat 6A.

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There are 12 seats in the business class cabin on the Garuda Boeing 737-800. ©Paliparan
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The comfortable recliner seats on the Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800. ©Paliparan
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I had assigned myself seat 6A, which is the bulkhead seat on the Garuda 737. ©Paliparan
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Seat recline buttons. ©Paliparan

Pre-departure service

Before departure, the main purser came by to welcome each passenger on board. Staying true to Indonesian culture and hospitality service, I always find Garuda employees to be extremely warm and welcoming, going at lengths to give you an extraordinary service.

Moments later she returned with a tray of non-alcoholic pre-departure beverages, from which I chose a weird-looking green juice. It turned out to be ambarella juice, which is the signature drink on board Garuda. It tasted err.. interesting. I wouldn’t classify it as particularly yummy, although it tasted by no means foul either. I was also given a refreshment towels, which was nicely presented on a wooden holder.

The cabin crew also distributed an Indonesian immigration form as well as a COVID-19 health card before departure.

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I opted for the green-coloured ambarella juice as pre-departure beverage. ©Paliparan
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Before departure, the crew distributed an Indonesian immigration form and COVID-19 health card. ©Paliparan
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Garuda safety video playing before departure. ©Paliparan

Departure

Boarding was completed relatively quick with what seemed to be a light passenger load. In business class, not more than half of the seats were occupied, with the seat next to me remaining empty.

Departure from a major airport like Bangkok Suvarnabhumi is always good fun as there are some great planespotting possibilities from the window. We took off right on time and gradually climbed to cruising altitude for the three-and-a-half-hour-long flight to Jakarta.

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Kenya Airways and the two main Taiwanese airlines of EVA Air and China Airlines. ©Paliparan
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A Korean Air Boeing 777. ©Paliparan
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An Oman Air Boeing 787 Dreamliner. ©Paliparan
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An Emirates Airbus A380. ©Paliparan
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A Vietjet Airbus A321 in front of a Lufthansa Airbus A380. ©Paliparan
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You don’t often capture Qatar Airways and El Al in the same shot. ©Paliparan
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A row of Airbus A380s of Thai Airways. ©Paliparan
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Thai Airways Boeing 747. ©Paliparan
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Bangkok departure view. ©Paliparan
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Bangkok departure view. ©Paliparan
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Bangkok departure view. ©Paliparan

Garuda business class menu

Once we reached cruising altitude the crew members jumped into action and closed the curtains to separate the business class cabin from the rest of the plane. A beautifully designed menu card was also handed out.

Garuda is known for its great meal quality in business class and I was looking forward to the food on board. It is not always the case that I thought that all three options sounded equally appetising and after some time deliberating I went for the lemongrass chicken when the flight attendant returned to take orders.

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The Garuda business class menu for today’s flight. ©Paliparan
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The Garuda business class menu for today’s flight. ©Paliparan
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The Garuda business class menu for today’s flight. ©Paliparan
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The Garuda business class menu for today’s flight. ©Paliparan

Champagne

To drink, I opted for a glass of champagne. Garuda Indonesia serves vintage champagne (2005 Castelnau Cuvee Brut Millésime) in business class, which is an excellent tipple. It was served in a beautiful, proper champagne flute.

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Champagne, sir? Hell yeah! ©Paliparan
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Garuda serves the excellent 2005 Castelnau Cuvee Brut Millésime in business class. ©Paliparan
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The champagne is served in proper flutes. ©Paliparan
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Cheers to a great flight! ©Paliparan

Business class meal service

Meal service kicked off with a fruit plate, which was served on a tray on which also an individual bread basket was placed. Moments later my main of chicken lemongrass with gulai curry sauce, coconut savory rice and sauteed vegetables arrived.

The dish was gorgeously presented on a classy black plate and was as delicious as it looked. It packed a lot of flavour. The chocolate cake dessert, which I paired with a decent Cabernet, was equally tasty.

The entire meal service was perfectly executed, with the dishes being beautifully plated and served at a good pace. Even though I took my time to enjoy the food, the meal was concluded after an hour with around two-and-a-half hours to go to Jakarta, giving passengers plenty of time to also get some work done or take a nap after the meal.

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The meal service started with some fresh fruit. ©Paliparan
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The excellent chicken lemongrass main. ©Paliparan
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The white and dark chocolate cheese cake as dessert was great too. ©Paliparan

In-flight entertainment

As I previously already mentioned, each seat in business class has a personal in-flight entertainment screen hidden in the armrest. The quality of it was however not too good.

The device itself, which has a poor resolution and is rather bulky and not easy to move, did clearly show its age. Even worse, the content on the IFE system was extremely poor. There were a handful of films and TV series and a wee bit of music – which was far from impressive both in quality and quantity. You are well-advised to bring your own entertainment in the form of a book or a few downloaded series or films on your own tablet or laptop.

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The in-flight entertainment screen is hidden in the armrest of each business class seat. ©Paliparan
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Unfortunately, the IFE content was quite poor. ©Paliparan

Rest of the flight

The poor-quality IFE system was only a minor disappointment as I managed to thoroughly enjoy the flight despite the lack of entertainment. The flight attendants made sure that my glass was topped up at all times and regularly checked on everyone in the cabin.

I spent the rest of the flight watching out of the window and even ended up chatting with the guy in seat 1F towards the end of the flight as we both somehow figured out we shared the same Dutch nationality (it’s always rather easy to recognise your fellow countrymen!).

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Flying over the Indonesian archipelago. ©Paliparan
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Window view. ©Paliparan
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Drinking a glass of champagne on board of my Garuda flight. ©Paliparan

Arrival

After a while the pilots started their descent into Jakarta, which was the sign for the flight attendants to prepare the cabin for landing. The views upon arrival were spectacular.

First of all, I was quite surprised to actually see something as normally Jakarta is hidden in a thick layer of smog. In the far distance another plane on approach to a parallel Jakarta runway was visible, making it a sort-of ‘race’ who would land first. In the end, it seemed that our plane pulled slightly ahead and landed first!

When we were finally parked at a jet bridge at the far end of the terminal, I thanked the crew for the excellent flight and started the long walk towards the immigration and transit counters.

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Ships and the Java coastline being visible through the smog. ©Paliparan
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The Indonesian capital of Jakarta hidden in the smog. Note the other plane in the distance on approach to a parallel runway! ©Paliparan
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Racing the other plane to Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport. ©Paliparan
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Jakarta arrival view. ©Paliparan
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Jakarta arrival view – and still racing the other plane. ©Paliparan
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Jakarta arrival view. ©Paliparan
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Jakarta arrival view. ©Paliparan
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Jakarta arrival view. ©Paliparan
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Jakarta arrival view. ©Paliparan
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Almost arrived in front of the other plane at the parallel runway! ©Paliparan
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Jakarta landing. ©Paliparan
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Touchdown on the runway of Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. ©Paliparan

In short

I had an excellent flight on Garuda Indonesia which does have an incredible, underrated business class product. Sure, there are a few minor drawbacks. The seats on the Boeing 737-800 are comfortable but a bit dated, which shows especially in the in-flight entertainment system with a poor quality screen and extremely limited content.

However, on every other aspect did Garuda deliver – bigly. Service by the flight attendants was amazingly friendly, warm and pro-active. In this aspect there are not many airlines which come close to the Garuda service with the exception of Singapore Airlines and the Japanese carriers.

The food on board Garuda is world-class. I would already be happy if I got a similar meal served in a top city restaurant, let alone on board a plane. Plating and presentation, as well as taste, were executed to perfection. Although there are airlines with a more lavish service in business class, I would easily rank Garuda among top airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways when it comes to the quality of its meal service.

I really enjoyed my flight on Garuda and would be delighted to set foot on board one of their flights again. Well done!

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘Lazing in Laos and Gallivanting a Wee Bit Around Asia‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Aegean Airlines Business Class Bucharest to Athens (Airbus A320)
2. Review: Goldair Handling Lounge (Non-Schengen) Athens Airport
3. Review: Saudia Business Class Athens to Jeddah (Airbus A320)
4. Review: Saudia Alfursan Lounge Jeddah Airport South Terminal
5. Review: Review: Saudia Business Class Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur (Boeing 787)
6. Review: CitizenM Hotel Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang
7. Kuala Lumpur in One Day: What to See and Do in 24 Hours
8. A Batu Caves Half Day Trip From Kuala Lumpur By Public Transport
9. Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Private Resting Suite Gateway KLIA2
10. Review: Air Asia Kuala Lumpur to Vientiane (Airbus A320)
11. Review: Hotel Khamvongsa, Vientiane, Laos
12. Destination Trip Report: A Day in Vientiane, Laos
13. Guide: Domestic Bus Travel in Laos and How to Book a Ticket
14. Review: Simon Riverside Hotel, Vang Vieng, Laos
15. Trip Report: Vang Vieng – Worth a Stop on Your Laos Itinerary?
16. Review: Villa Ban Phanluang, Luang Prabang, Laos
17. Luang Prabang: The Stunning Pearl of Indochina
18. Guide: Luang Prabang Morning, Food and Night Markets
19. Kuang Si Falls: A Gorgeous Luang Prabang Day Trip
20. Review: Thai Smile Economy Class Luang Prabang to Bangkok (Airbus A320)
21. Review: Ibis Styles Bangkok Sukhumvit 4
22. Review: Air France/KLM Business Lounge Bangkok Airport
23. Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class (Boeing 737-800) Bangkok to Jakarta (current chapter)
24. Review: Sapphire Plaza Premium Lounge Terminal 3 Jakarta Airport
25. Review: Garuda Business Lounge Terminal 3 Jakarta Airport
26. Review: Review: Japan Airlines Business Class Jakarta to Tokyo Narita (Boeing 787-8)
27. Review: Capsule Hotel Transit Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
28. Tokyo Stopover: What to See and Do in the Capital of Japan for a Day
29. Review: ANA Business Lounge Tokyo Narita Airport
30. Review: United Club Tokyo Narita Airport
31. Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class Tokyo Narita to Istanbul (Boeing 777)
32. Review: Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Lounge Istanbul Airport
33. Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class Istanbul to Bucharest (Airbus A330)

Koen

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

2 thoughts on “Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Bangkok to Jakarta (Boeing 737-800)

  • April 29, 2020 at 11:21 pm
    Permalink

    Fun to read this review as being the guy on 1F. Was waiting for this one quite a long time 😉 All the best!

    Reply
    • Koen
      April 30, 2020 at 8:45 am
      Permalink

      Thanks Han! It took me a while to finish as I have such a backlog of trip reports and reviews to write and also a normal day job to take care of! Was fun talking to you on board the plane, I hope you had a fruitful and fun working trip in Surabaya!

      Reply

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