Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class (SIN-CGK)

Jyaga okay (3/5)

Garuda Indonesia flight details

Airline : Garuda Indonesia
Flight No : GA837
Departure City : Singapore (SIN)
Arrival City : Jakarta (CGK)
Equipment : Airbus A330-300 (PK-GPV)
Blocked Time : 2h00m
Seat No: 10G

Airline Introduction

Garuda Indonesia is the flag carrier of Indonesia. Despite being found in 1949, Garuda has historically lagged behind more lauded peers like Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. The airline’s unfavourable reputation started changing in 2009, with the launch of a five-year transformation into a ‘world-class airline’. The rennaissance ultimately paved the path to joining the SkyTeam alliance in 2014. Since then, it has also consistently been rated as a five-star airline by Skytrax, for what it’s worth.

With its now-lofty reputation, has Garuda truly emerged as one of the world’s premier airlines? Or does Singapore Airlines still reign supreme?

Booking Garuda Indonesia Business Class

This flight can be redeemed via GarudaMiles for 22,500 miles. Garuda has a table showcasing the prices of award flights on specific routes. While the pricing isn’t great, I think the programme’s true sweet spot is its upgrade awards. For instance, an upgrade from Singapore to Jakarta can be had for as little as 8,000 GarudaMiles. Where available, it is also possible to upgrade to First Class from Economy! Alternatively, a FlyingBlue redemption will cost a much more logical 15,500 miles.

With cash, this flight can be booked for at least SGD955 (IDR10,900,000) one way or SGD1480 (IDR16,900,000) return. It would be slightly cheaper to fly from Jakarta at IDR8,515,000 one way or IDR13,960,000 return. Regardless, I think this is a completely absurd cash price for a short flight!


I got to Singapore Changi Airport at 17.00 for this 18:45 departure. Garuda Indonesia departs Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, sharing with several other Indonesian airlines like Batik Air, Lion Air, and Citilink Indonesia. The airline’s check-in counters are located at row 5, towards the middle of the terminal and near the immigration checkpoint. In addition to the Economy Class counters, there was also a single SkyPriority counter for Business Class passengers. A separate SkyTeam Elite Plus desk was also available.

Changi Airport Terminal 3 (picture: Jino Lee for Changi Airport Group via

In addition to the boarding pass, I also received a lounge invitation. After check-in, I spent most of my time at the incredible Jewel Changi Airport, which was accessible by an enclosed pedestrian bridge. I went back to Terminal 3 with an hour to spare to head to my gate. Due to the automated gates, immigration was a breeze, leaving just the security checks at the gate.

Jewel Changi Airport


Since a SkyTeam-operated lounge is not available in Singapore, Garuda Indonesia directs its premium passengers to the Marhaba Lounge at Terminal 3. Marhaba is a Dubai-based lounge operator, a subsidiary of the dnata ground services company. The lounge is otherwise accessible to Priority Pass card holders.

Due to the short amount of time I had, I decided to head straight to the gate after doing some last-minute (window) shopping. As such, I won’t be reviewing the Marhaba Lounge. My apologies!

Marhaba Lounge Terminal 3 (photo: LoungeBuddy)


Due to the way Singapore Changi Airport is designed, all security checks occur at the gate of departure. The latest addition, Terminal 4, is the sole exception to this rule. Obviously, this means that security lines can be quite long, especially for departures on widebody aircraft. Unfortunately, when I took this flight, Garuda did not have a separate line for SkyPriority passengers. Despite that, it wasn’t an issue since the lines weren’t too long.

A Singapore Airlines A350-900 at the neighbouring gate

Following thorough security checks, our boarding passes were scanned, effectively meaning that we were already ‘boarded’. Five minutes past the printed boarding time, a preboarding announcement was done, prompting nearly everybody to stand up. The ground staff had to manually request everyone to sit back down as only wheelchair passengers and families with infants were to board at this time. The same charade happened five minutes later when general boarding started. Whilst only Business Class and SkyPriority passengers were permitted to board at this time, that didn’t stop a large group of people from moving forward near the jetway.

I was finally admitted after showing my boarding pass to the ground staff. Our flight was operated by PK-GPV, an A330-300 that was delivered new to Garuda in their second batch of Airbus orders.

Garuda A330-300 Cabin and Seat

The Business Class cabin consisted of 36 seats, spread between two cabins on the pointy end. Upon boarding, I was greeted by a friendly flight attendant at the door, who graciously showed me to my seat. I was seated at 10G, in the centre section of the last row. Playing in the background is a vivid orchestral medley of Indonesian folk music.

Garuda Indonesia A330 Business Class

Sadly, the cabin featured Garuda’s oldest seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, introduced in 2009 (sigh). These seats first debuted on airlines in 2002 as the B/E Aerospace MiniPods, which you’ll also find on older Korean Air and Qatar Airways jets. On the bright side, this is much superior to the recliner seats on the Boeing 737-800s that the airline consistently flies to Singapore.

Garuda Indonesia A330 Business Class

Seat Details

Despite the old seats, the cabin still looked quite elegant with its gentle maroon and grey colour scheme. Each seat reclines into an angled flatbed, using the controls hidden under a flap in the centre armrest. A small privacy shield can be pulled out from between the seats, along with an adjustable reading light . Both a universal power outlet and a USB-B plug were provisioned as well.

Business Class Seats

There is a coat hook on the seat back, along with a literature compartment, and a large television. Interestingly, the literature compartment was still devoid of magazines; instead, a shopping catalogue is available in the seatback pockets. There are also cubby holes for shoes. Due to bulkhead limitations, the televisions come out of the centre console in the front-row seats.

Business Class seatback

Like in Economy, the inflight entertainment system lagged quite frequently. There wasn’t a good amount of entertainment options, either. This was not a problem for this short flight, but I’d be quite sad if it were much longer. Given its age, it was also no surprise that the seats felt worn. The padding seemed like it was really past its prime, leaving parts of the seat surface feeling rather hard and lumpy. Honestly, it is quite unfortunate how far behind these seats are, compared to Singapore Airlines’ offerings. (sigh)

My seat, 10G, looking well-worn…

Departure from Singapore

After settling in my seat, I was offered a pre-departure beverage from a tray consisting of water and juices. Interestingly, it was only towards the end of the boarding sequence that the Business Class cabin started to fill up. All 36 seats ended up being occupied, for what would make this a completely full flight.

As soon as the doors were closed, the flight attendants came around to take meal orders. This was briefly interrupted by the screening of their nice but sponsored-looking safety video, before being promptly continued. Since menus weren’t provisioned, the choices were simply mentioned. Whilst they had three meal options, sadly only two remained once they got to my seat. After this, the cabin crew once again came about to distribute headphones.

Our flight pushed back 20 minutes late and we ended up taking off around 15 minutes later.

Inflight Service

The crew on our were very warm and friendly. The service was also really quite polished. For instance, the flight attendant would kneel when taking meal orders, similar to the service on Qatar Airways. Additionally, after initially referring to the passenger manifest at the start of the flight, the crew took care to remember each passenger’s name. I think this was very impressive, more so for a short flight like this. Incredible job, Garuda Indonesia!

Dinner Service

The inflight service commenced 15 minutes after take-off. Since meal orders were already taken, it wasn’t long before we were served our meals. For the main, the three options included stir-fried rice vermicelli with seafood, roast chicken with mashed potatoes, or Indonesian beef with rice. Since they ran out of vermicelli, I ordered the Indonesian beef dish.

The dish was served on a tray, straight on the table. On the side were a Thai-style salad and a mango cheesecake. Two warm bread rolls also came with the tray. The beef, on the other hand, was served with plain white rice and an Indonesian urap salad. Whilst the beef was flavourful, it was also quite chewy and didn’t come across as especially high-quality. Honestly, I had the same opinion about the entire tray of food… they just didn’t taste very high-quality.

Indonesian beef with rice

In the end, I only picked around the beef and finished the salads. Due to a lack of a menu on the flight, I wasn’t sure what their champagne offering was. As such, I ended up ordering a glass of water instead. The cabin crew came by a few times afterwards to take the trays and offer drink refills.

Arrival in Jakarta

Despite the mediocre food, I was impressed at how quickly the crew was able to manage the cabin and work the meal service. This was quite the contrast to the much slower meal service on the Singapore Airlines flight I took on the way to Singapore. Since I wasn’t interested in the inflight entertainment options, I stuck to watching the flight map whilst reading a book. It didn’t feel long after when the cabin was prepared for landing, 20 minutes before arrival, in which the seatbelt signs were switched on.

Despite our late departure, we ended up arriving in Jakarta on time. I imagine this was due to the favourable flight time of only 1h20m and schedule padding on Garuda’s side. Like on Singapore Airlines, the cabin crew was quick to close the curtains between Business Class and Economy on arrival. Following an additional 10-minute taxi, we pulled into a gate at Soekarno-Hatta’s Terminal 3. For once, we were assigned the gate closest to immigration, although that still didn’t preclude a long walk.


Overall, I thought this Garuda Indonesia flight from Singapore to Jakarta was quite average. Between the mediocre seats and food, only the crew stood out as the exceptional aspect of our flight. They were truly stars, honestly deserving of the world’s best cabin crew title.

Despite not being the best on this route, I think Garuda Indonesia Business Class is a perfectly serviceable way to fly between the two cities.

Read more from this trip!

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