In this review, we take a domestic flight in business class on a Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 from Jakarta (CGK) to Yogyakarta (JOG).
Reaching the gate
After spending some time in Garuda Indonesia’s decent domestic business lounge, it was time to head to the boarding gate.
As I already wrote in the previous chapter, distances in Jakarta’s gleaming new Terminal 3 can be quite long. That was certainly the case for the trip to my boarding gate, which was at the far other side of the terminal.
It seemed like an almost 30 minute walk from the lounge to the furthermost gates. During my walk I constantly saw golf carts passing by driving people to their gates.
This buggy service run by the airport authorities is complimentary, so if you have mobility problems or are in a hurry it might be a good option to consider. There are several waiting areas across the terminal where you can queue for a ride on these buggies.
When I finally arrived at the gate, the gate agents almost immediately announced a 20 minute delay, which meant I rushed to the gate for nothing. As the way back to the lounge was just too long, I just decided to hang out around the gate area waiting for boarding to commence.
Train vs plane
Normally, I would not consider flying the relatively short distance between Jakarta and Yogyakarta as there is a good train connection between the two cities.
I love trains, and you get so much more of a feel of the country from the train than from a plane window high above ground.
This time, flying was however the most sensible choice. Although I was granted the week off from work on a provisional basis, it got retracted shortly before the trip commenced due to some unexpected rostering problems and dozens of others being on holiday. I therefore had to put in some working hours during my trip to Indonesia.
This wasn’t a big problem as I knew beforehand there was a small chance this would happen and I did have a contingency plan for it.
Given the time difference with Europe, I just had to put in some working hours on my laptop from 3pm until late in the evening from Monday until Friday. Fortunately that meant I could still do a lot of sightseeing in the morning and early afternoon, but I did had to make sure that I would be back in my hotel or any other place with a reliable internet connection by mid-afternoon.
It did however mean that the train was no longer much of an option to travel to Yogyakarta as the daytime journey would just take too long, and I just didn’t fancy the uncomfortable overnight train (trains in Indonesia do not have sleeper wagons so it would have been a sleepless night in a normal seat).
Fortunately flight tickets in Indonesia are affordable even when booked just a few weeks out. With business class only being 40 euro or so more than economy, it was a no-brainer to book into the premium cabin, if only for the extra comfort and extra miles and XP I would earn on Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue frequent flyer programme.
Jakarta (CGK) to Yogyakarta (JOG) on Garuda Indonesia
Flight GA208 – Boeing 737-800 – Business class, seat 6A
Departure: 12.10pm – Arrival: 13.25pm
Flight time: 1h15m – Distance: 283 miles
Costs: 120 EUR
In the end, boarding commenced half an hour later than scheduled with no reasons being given for the delay. Priority boarding was strictly enforced and I was the first to board the Boeing 737-800 which would operate this domestic flight to Yogyakarta.
The flight attendants gave me a warm welcome upon boarding the aeroplane – which is always a good sign for the service levels on the flight to come.
My first impressions of the cabin were good. It looked well-maintained, smelled fresh and there were proper recliner seats in the business class cabin.
Garuda Boeing 737-800 business class seat
Garuda Indonesia’s Boeing 737-800s have 12 seats in the business class cabin in a 2-2 configuration. These are spacious recliner seats which are certainly very comfortable for any short to mid-haul flight.
For a domestic business class flight of just over one hour in duration you certainly cannot complain about such a business class seat, especially not when coming from Europe where almost all airlines use the same economy class seats and just leave the middle seat empty.
All of these business class seats have power sockets if you need to charge your electronic devices during the flight.
During online check-in I selected 6A, a bulkhead window seat in the first row of the plane.
Upon seating, the friendly flight attendant came back to introduce herself and to welcome me again on board. She asked if I perhaps would like a welcome drink.
For pre-departure beverages, Garuda Indonesia allows you to choose between a couple of different juices and water. I went for some apple juice, which was served with a refreshment towel.
The flight seemed to have a full load, both in business class as well as in economy. With a 30 minute delay, we left our gate and taxied around the airport towards the runway.
There were again some decent views over the sprawling city of Jakarta upon departure, although the smog meant again that you couldn’t see very far.
Garuda domestic meal service
When the fasten seatbelt sign went off, the crew immediately jumped into action and started to distribute meals. Or well, a meal might be a too big of a word for what we got, as it was more of a snack.
The food on this short domestic business class flight on Garuda consisted out of a mini-hamburger, two pieces of carrot, two pieces of some kind of green vegetable and a fruit bowl.
The quality of the food was rather average and I expected somewhat better from Garuda. The presentation of the meal left something to be desired and even looked a bit sad, while the hamburger had a lukewarm temperature only and a meat patty about half the size of the bun.
On the plus side, I did appreciate the effort in putting a table cloth over the tray table, which did make the meal look a tiny bit more classy.
That said, the food didn’t taste bad at all and considering the short flying time I was happy to get something small to eat at all. After all, most of the flight time consists of taking off and landing. The amount of time on cruising altitude is probably not even more than 30 minutes in total.
To drink, I just had a glass of water with my meal. On domestic flights, Garuda Indonesia doesn’t serve any alcohol, not even in business class. If you want something else to drink besides water, you can opt for tea, coffee, soft drinks and several kinds of juices.
Each business class seat has an in-flight entertainment screen hidden in the armrests. Although I didn’t use it on my domestic flight to Yogyakarta, I did test it out on an international Garuda Indonesia flight on the Boeing 737 during another trip.
To sum up the experience, I wasn’t too impressed as the screen has a rather poor resolution and the entire system did clearly show its age. Even worse, the content on the in-flight entertainment system was extremely poor both in quality and quantity.
Of course, if you get bored on your flight there are always the overhead monitors showing the route map and there is also Garuda Indonesia’s own in-flight magazine to read.
The Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 is not equipped with WiFi internet.
Service on the flight was exemplary. In general Indonesian service culture reaches extremely high levels and in my experience this is usually on show as well when taking a flight on Indonesia’s flag carrier.
The Garuda flight attendants were always smiling, welcoming and police. They were also pro-active in anticipating everyone’s needs. After I finished my glass of water, one of the flight attendants for example almost immediately inquired whether I wanted another drink.
The entire meal service in general was fast, friendly and organised – on a short flight like this you can’t ask for much more.
At one point during the flight, there were some stunning views of the top of a volcano rising above the clouds. Not a sight I often see on my usual flights within Europe!
There were some beautiful views as well over the southern Javanese coastline upon descent into Yogyakarta.
I am actually never really scared of flying (on the contrary!), but somehow there were some moments on this flight when I felt a bit insecure. I don’t know if it is the knowledge of Indonesia’s not-so-brilliant flight safety record, but some abrupt, sharp turns at relatively low altitude over the foothills of the volcano surely did contribute to my slightly queasy feeling as well.
Fortunately, we soon got out of what seemed to be some holding pattern and the plane continued to descend down towards the coastal plain.
Once out of the holding pattern, we soon descended further down and aligned for landing at the sole runway of Yogyakarta Adisutjipto Airport (IATA code: YOG).
Due to the delay upon departure and the holding pattern, we eventually landed some 40 minutes late.
Adisutjipto airport seemed like a small, friendly airport. Just minutes after disembarking the plane I was already in a taxi to my hotel. There are several taxi stands at the airport offering fixed fares to the city centre – which is just a few miles away as the airport road basically leads straight into the city centre.
Although Adisutjipto Airport is still in use these days, it is however no longer Yogyakarta’s primary airport as most airlines – including Garuda Indonesia – have shifted operations to the brand new Yogyakarta International Airport (YIA) located a bit further away out of the city.
Domestic business class on Garuda Indonesia is all about the seat and the extra comfort and services. The recliner seats on the Boeing 737-800 were very comfortable and spacious and make for a pleasant flight.
The service on board is great too, and if you normally do not have lounge access included this is can be a great extra perk as well. Sometimes, business class on a domestic Garuda flight is only a 30-40 euro premium over economy, which in my opinion is well worth it. I didn’t regret paying it on my flight.
Sure, there are some aspects which were a tiny bit disappointing such as the lacklustre meal, although given it is a short domestic flight I perhaps had my expectations up too high knowing how great Garuda’s catering is on longer international flights.
In the end, I would certainly conclude that Garuda Indonesia has a very decent business class product. If you can snatch a good deal, I’d certainly recommend going for it.
If the price difference between economy and business is however high, I would however just settle for economy class the next time around on a short flight like this.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘Journey to Java‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Wizz Air Bucharest to Rome Ciampino (Airbus A321)
2. Half a Day in Rome: A Walk Around the Eternal City
3. Review: Casa Alitalia Lounge ‘Piazza di Spagna’ Rome Fiumicino Airport
4. Review: Saudia Business Class Rome to Riyadh (Airbus A320)
5. Review: Saudia Alfursan Business Lounge Riyadh Airport
6. Review: Saudia Business Class Riyadh to Jakarta (Boeing 777-300)
7. Review: The Hermitage, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia
8. A Day in Jakarta: Exploring Indonesia’s Bustling Capital City
9. Review: Garuda Indonesia Domestic Business Lounge Jakarta Airport
10. Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class (Boeing 737-800) Jakarta to Yogyakarta (current chapter)
11. Review: The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta – Mgallery By Sofitel
12. A Magical Sunrise Visit to Borobudur Temple
13. A Visit to the Great Hindu Temple Complex of Prambanan
14. Review: Indonesian Railways (Kereta Api) train Yogyakarta to Surabaya
15. Review: Majapahit Hotel, Surabaya
16. Visiting the city of Surabaya
17. Review: Concordia Premier Lounge, Surabaya Airport
18: Review: Singapore Airlines business class Surabaya to Singapore (Airbus A330-300)
19. A quick Singapore stopover
20. Review: Silverkris Lounge Singapore Changi Airport
21. Review: Singapore Airlines business class Singapore to Manila (Boeing 787-10)
22. Review: PAGSS Lounge Manila Airport Terminal 1 Gate 2
23. Review: China Airlines economy class Manila to Taipei (Airbus A330-300)
24. Review: China Airlines Business Lounge Taipei Airport Terminal 1
25. Review: China Airlines Economy Class Taipei to Rome (Airbus A350)
26. Review: TAROM economy class Rome to Bucharest (Boeing 737-700)