Review: Garuda Indonesia A330 Economy Class (DPS-CGK)

Jyaga unsure (3/5)

Garuda Indonesia flight details

Airline : Garuda Indonesia
Flight No : GA 411
Departure City : Denpasar – Ngurah Rai (DPS)
Arrival City : Jakarta – Soekarno-Hatta (CGK)
Equipment : A330-300 (PK-GPW)
Blocked Time : 2h05m
Seat No: 21K

Airline Background

Garuda Indonesia is Indonesia’s state-owned flag carrier, and by far, the nation’s most premium airline. The airline has been around since 1949 and is thus one of the longest-established in Asia. Following a significant overhaul in 2009, Garuda has become one of the world’s premier airlines, crowned with a Skytrax 5-Star Airline title envied by many airlines. Despite the lofty reputation the airline has built up in recent years, it is plagued with a lot of financial and political issues. In fact, to illustrate the severity of the airline’s problems, between 2014 and 2020, the airline went through five different CEOs. There was also that time when a CEO was caught smuggling a Harley Davidson on a Garuda plane…

Booking Garuda Indonesia

Like most flights within Indonesia, a one-way flight costs half of a round trip, which I think is very convenient. All Garuda flights between Jakarta and Bali, vis-a-vis, are priced consistently between IDR1,700,000 and IDR1,900,000; this is way above the market median, and in some cases constitutes nearly thrice the price of flights on other airlines. That is to say, Garuda isn’t cheap, at all.

I booked this flight on their website for IDR1,800,000 and inputted my Flying Blue Gold membership into the Frequent Flyer field. Assuming award availability, this price would cost have cost 9000 Flying Blue miles, which I’d say is a reasonable enough award price. I was able to assign front-row seats, possibly thanks to my SkyTeam Elite Plus Status. These seats were otherwise blocked and not selected by other passengers.

Garuda Indonesia BidUpgrade

Immediately after booking, I was offered to bid for an upgrade to Business Class. While Garuda uses a similar system to other airlines, the upgrade slider had a price floor that was equivalent to paying the Business Class fare outright, or possibly more. The bid slider started at ~IDR4,800,000, meaning a total fare of ~IDR6,600,000 supposing the bid is accepted (they’d be stupid not to).


I arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport at 13.00 for this 15.55 flight. After a brief ticket check at the entrance, I proceeded straight to the Garuda Indonesia desks at the left-hand side of the terminal. This area is dedicated to Garuda and Pelita Air flights. Since I have SkyTeam Elite Plus status from Flying Blue, I checked in at the SkyPriority desk. Despite that, even the Garuda Indonesia Economy desks were deserted. Garuda Indonesia Platinum and Business Class passengers are eligible to use a separate dedicated check-in lounge.

Garuda Indonesia check-in desks

With my boarding passes in hand, I went straight to the empty security check lines just next to the desks. While this line isn’t dedicated solely to Garuda passengers, passengers for other airlines tend to use the checks at the other end near the non-Garuda and Pelita desks. In all, the time from the kerb to the sterile transit area took less than 5 minutes. Very impressive.

Shopping gallery

Following the trend at many other airports, I annoyingly had to walk past a twisting shopping gallery. As expected, the prices of most things are much higher than on the high street, as there aren’t any duty-free benefits on domestic flights. Despite that, ‘Buy Bye Bali’ is a pretty great name for a shop if you ask me!

Garuda Indonesia Lounge Domestic, Bali

Having been used to oneworld elite benefits, I was quite disappointed to find out that SkyTeam Elite Plus members are not eligible for lounge access on purely domestic itineraries. As expected from SkyTeam’s weak alliance offering, I did not receive access to the Garuda Indonesia Lounge on this short domestic flight. I really hope they’d eventually remove this rule to be in line with the rules of other alliances, although that’s likely wishful thinking.


Ngurah Rai Airport seating

Without lounge access, I spent the remaining two hours before boarding working at an empty gate. At T-5 before boarding, I proceeded to the flight’s gate at the end of the terminal, where most Garuda flights depart. Before I got to the gate area there was a quick ID and boarding pass check. This was apparently done so another check would not be necessary at the scanners.

PK-GWP, the A330-300 taking us to Jakarta
Gate 1C

Boarding ended up commencing at 15.35, 10 minutes past the printed boarding time. The boarding process began with SkyPriority and Business Class passengers, followed by Economy. The process was very orderly and everyone was boarded by row – something strictly enforced. In fact, the gate agents constantly watched like a hawk to ensure everyone was in the correct line.

Garuda Indonesia A330-300 Cabin

The cabin is equipped with 215 economy class seats in a standard 2-4-2 configuration. Since I was seated at 21K, a front-row bulkhead seat, legroom is expectedly excellent. However, legroom remains great in the other rows as well. I’m 180cm (5’11) tall and there was a gap of around 7-8 centimetres between my knees and the seatback. The seat has excellent padding that I found to be very comfortable.

Garuda Indonesia Economy Class seats
Bulkhead legroom

The seat pitch starts at 33”, which is very generous for a short flight like Bali to Jakarta. Unsurprisingly, this A330-300 is predominantly used on flights to East Asian destinations like Seoul and Tokyo. Their fleet of Boeing 737-800s, however, feature much tighter seats comparatively.

Legroom in a regular row

Every seat is equipped with an inflight entertainment (IFE) screen, complemented by a handheld remote control in the armrest. In bulkhead seats, the screen pops out of the armrest. The seatback pocket also featured some run-of-the-mill economy headphones, along with two inflight shopping magazines.

Entertainment screen
Seat pocket contents
Remote control

Departure from Bali

The flight was about 60-70% occupied in the economy cabin but the business cabin remained empty barring two people. As we boarded, the purser made a lengthy welcome announcement and proceeded to state every codeshare flight number (there were like six).

As soon as the doors closed, Garuda’s safety video started playing – until it didn’t. Strangely enough, the entire inflight entertainment system stopped working and the crew had to frantically resort to a manual safety demonstration. Whilst all this was happening, I started hearing strange noises from the engine, although thankfully it wasn’t a problem.

Traffic at Ngurah Rai Airport

We pushed back at 16.02, seven minutes past the scheduled departure time, and queued to take off behind a China Airlines A330 and a Thai Airways 787. Our flight lifted off twenty minutes after at 16.23.

Inflight Service

Inflight Entertainment

Every Garuda Indonesia aircraft is equipped with inflight entertainment screens, and ours is no exception. However, following the strange problem that started during the safety briefing, the system was out of use for the entirety of the flight. During the flight, I overheard many passengers complaining about the broken system. While the crew tried to solve this by rebooting the system, it ultimately didn’t work.

The plane also has a wifi system installed, although it wasn’t switched on.

Inflight Food and Drinks

Around 10 minutes after takeoff, the crew started the inflight service. Whilst they managed to go through two rows, the service abruptly stopped when we encountered some rather heavy turbulence. It got bad to the extent that the crew quickly got seated and people had to hold onto their food trays. The lady seated in the row across even had her headscarf and hair become dishevelled as a result; I haven’t experienced turbulence this bad in over a decade!

Service restarted around 10 minutes later, once the turbulence got lighter. We were offered two choices of hot meals on this flight: chicken noodles or chicken with rice. After handing us the meal, the crew also passed around some ‘Cruffle’ snacks as a dessert. Interestingly our crew today seemed very indifferent and just went through the motions.

Thanks to my seatmate who was disinterested in the meal, I managed to try both choices. Both weren’t very good, although the noodles ended up being the marginally better choice. The chicken in the rice dish was bland and chewy and wasn’t at all great but I did end up eating the vegetables. The noodles on the other hand reminded me of instant noodles but topped with chicken. It wasn’t very good either, but this tasted better than the rice dish. There isn’t any choice of drinks apart from bottled water, as well as the nice boxed tea served after the meal.

Chicken with Rice
Chicken Noodles
Teh Botol Sosro – great drink!

Special Meals on Garuda

Interestingly, I took this exact flight a few months prior and preordered a vegan meal. That meal was so much better than what was served on this flight. It even came with a proper dessert featuring Indonesian sago cakes. Perhaps on Garuda, preordering special meals is the way to go?

Vegan meal on Garuda Indonesia

Arrival in Jakarta

Stuck without entertainment, I ended up working on my laptop for the remainder of the flight. The seatbelt signs were switched on 10 minutes before landing, during which time the crew did their prelanding checks. We had a smooth touchdown at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at 16.55 local time, five minutes before our scheduled arrival. However, we had to take a scenic route to our gate and circled the entire airport before reaching our final parking position. We only reached the gate 16 minutes later and disembarked 5 minutes after. Interestingly, during their disembarkation announcement, the crew requested everyone to leave their seats by row number and follow social distancing protocols. Unsurprisingly nobody did that.

For the first time ever, I had a relatively short walk to baggage claim at Terminal 3. My SkyPriority-tagged bags came out around 20 minutes after leaving the plane.

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport


Between the high prices, the surprisingly indifferent service, and the underwhelming inflight food, I don’t have much to recommend based on this flight. It didn’t help that the inflight entertainment screens were broken too (sad). I did think that the seats were very comfortable, more so than any competitor, though.

Assuming the continued lack of SkyTeam Elite Plus lounge access, I frankly couldn’t justify Garuda’s extreme price premium over other airlines. In fact, the second most expensive airline, Batik Air, was charging 50% of Garuda’s price during my flight date. Were the prices about 20-30% lower, I wouldn’t think twice about flying them, but for now, I’ll personally opt for other airlines. Sorry Garuda Indonesia!

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