After a shaky decade in the 2000s, Garuda Indonesia are now becoming something of a legendary airline. They continue to defy industry expectations and put up a great fight against their more prestigious regional rivals. But one thing I was keen to experience was the award-winning service that Garuda’s cabin crew provide inflight. Could they really be as good as everybody else says they are?
For somebody usually based in the UK, I don’t always consider Garuda Indonesia when booking my longhaul flights to Asia. I do prefer to fly on the Singapore Airlines A380, but once I am in Asia, the world is my oyster as far as Garuda is concerned, as they offer lots of pretty attractive flights on both narrowbody and widebody aircraft – and usually for pretty attractive prices! I took a flight from Jakarta to Bali on a B737 and then from Bali to Tokyo-Narita on a B777. I didn’t leave Bali’s airport this time, as I had less than 90 minutes in transit.
The first thing I was happy to see was the new interior of the aircraft (B777 from Bali). The seat covers were brand new (and fairly wide for economy class) and the inflight entertainment was top-notch. There were even awards from SKYTRAX hanging on the walls to show off how proud Garuda are of their increasingly prestigious reputation (they were awarded the title of Best Cabin Crew in 2015!). I even received a pre-takeoff drink of apple juice!
Throughout the flight, the cabin crew were courteous and polite, and this was no more evident than during the meal service on the way to Tokyo. I asked for the chicken option and it was actually very tasty, even if the meal itself was quite basic with veg and white rice. If I could criticise anything with Garuda on this day, it was the fact they served ice cream at the same time as the meal, which I found kind of strange, as it would surely melt a little before we got the chance to eat it. I wonder if Garuda cabin crew do this all the time during meal service, or if it was a small mistake on this particular flight?
Of all the South East Asian airlines, Garuda is the one I really want to fly with more often. They have a small network (at least compared with Singapore Airlines or Thai Airways) but they seem to be making their routes work, despite having the likes of Lion Air and Indonesia Air Asia flying the same routes for a fraction of the cost. One of the main reasons people keep flocking back to Garuda is because of the warmth and professionalism of its award-winning cabin crew – I really was on Cloud 9 during my pair of flights!