Review: Garuda Indonesia Economy Class 737 (YIA-CGK)

Jyaga likes 4/5

Garuda Indonesia flight details

Airline : Garuda Indonesia
Flight No : GA213
Departure City : Yogyakarta – Kulon Progo (YIA)
Arrival City : Jakarta – Soekarno-Hatta (CGK)
Equipment : Boeing 737-800 (PK-GFI)
Blocked Time : 1h30m
Seat No: 23K

Garuda Indonesia is Indonesia’s state-owned flag carrier, and by far, the nation’s most premium airline. Founded in 1949, the airline went through a significant overhaul in 2009 to lift itself from its less-than-stellar reputation of the past. Despite the lofty reputation the airline has built up in recent years, it is plagued with a lot of financial and political issues.

Booking Garuda Indonesia

After flying Batik Air Business Class from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, I needed to find a returning flight. For that, I had the option to either fly TransNusa, Pelita Air, Super Air Jet, or Garuda Indonesia. I crossed Super Air Jet right off the list since they’ve been cancelling their flights to Jakarta in recent days. And since I’ve flown TransNusa many times before, I decided to take this chance to try Garuda Indonesia’s Boeing 737-800 Economy Class. For this flight, I paid IDR1,165,500 (~ USD75, GBP60), which is a ~40% premium over other airlines in the market. I booked this flight on their official website,


After checking out of Hotel Tentrem, I arrived at Yogyakarta International Airport about 2.5 hours before my flight’s departure. As this was my first time departing from Yogyakarta’s new international airport, I was astounded by how beautiful it looked. This frankly blew me away, having been used to new but incompetently designed airport terminals in the country.

Kerbside at Yogyakarta International Airport

Once inside, I found that the check-in counters for Garuda Indonesia are located on Island B, close to the entrance. Sadly, the counters were closed when I arrived and wouldn’t open for another 30 minutes. In the meantime, I decided to take a seat by the benches and appreciate the stunning terminal.

Check-in hall at Yogyakarta International Airport
Check-in hall at Yogyakarta International Airport

The check-in counters finally opened at 14.50, two hours before the scheduled departure of our flight. Expectedly, there were both Business Class and SkyPriority check-in counters, the latter being reserved mostly for elite frequent flyers with the airline and SkyTeam.

Garuda Indonesia check-in counters
Garuda Indonesia check-in counters

While I was quickly issued boarding passes for the flight, I was surprised to be advised that I would be eligible for lounge access before the flight. As a SkyTeam Elite Plus member with KLM, I don’t usually get this benefit on wholly domestic itineraries. As such, I felt that this was miscommunication at worst or a fluke at best. Surprisingly, however, I was granted access.


At Yogyakarta International Airport, Garuda Indonesia uses the Concordia Lounge as the contract lounge for its premium passengers. This lounge is managed by Indonesia’s airport operator, Angkasa Pura Airport. The company also manages many more lounges around Indonesia, particularly at the major airports it operates. I’ve reviewed this lounge in a previous instalment, thanks to my confusing SkyTeam Elite Plus qualification. However, you could otherwise pay IDR145,000 (~ USD9, GBP7) to access it.

Concordia Lounge Kulonprogo


After briefly checking out the Concordia Lounge, I decided to take the time and wander around the terminal instead. Although I disliked the retail shop maze after clearing security, I was very impressed by the design and seating options in the terminal. In fact, some gates even have computer stations with a pair of iMacs that actually worked (looking at you, Concordia Lounge).

Departure hall at Yogyakarta International Airport
Departure hall at Yogyakarta International Airport
Computer stations at the gate

As I waited for our plane to land from Jakarta, I took the time to check out the other planes parked at the terminal. This included an ex-Garuda Batik Air Boeing 737-800 featuring the same product I flew several days earlier, alongside a Super Air Jet Airbus A320 that used to fly for Indigo.

Batik Air Boeing 737-800
Super Air Jet A320-200

Our plane finally arrived at Yogyakarta at 16.05. Today’s flight will be operated by PK-GFI, a Boeing 737-800 delivered new to Garuda in 2010, featuring a special Livin’ by Mandiri livery.

PKI-GFI at Yogyakarta International Airport
PKI-GFI at Yogyakarta International Airport

Despite the printed boarding time of 16.25, it didn’t commence until 16.33, 17 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Given the lack of any passengers requiring special assistance, I became the first to board with my SkyPriority status. This meant getting empty cabin pictures, yay!

Departure gate
Gate seating
Boarding Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800

Garuda Indonesia 737-800 Cabin

Garuda Indonesia’s Boeing 737-800s are equipped with a configuration of 162 seats. In Business Class, there is a total of 12 seats in a 2-2 configuration. This is followed by 150 seats in Economy Class in a standard 3-3 configuration. 

Business Class

Business Class has 12 recliner seats configured in a standard 2-2 configuration in the aft section of the aircraft. The elegant red-decked seats are the same B/E Millennium™ seats you’d find on many other airlines, including the Vietnam Airlines’ A321 I flew back in April 2023.

Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 Business Class cabin
Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 Business Class cabin

Funnily enough, I managed to try out this exact cabin on the Batik Air Boeing 737-800 I flew to Yogyakarta a few days earlier. Since Batik Air elected not to refit their ex-Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800s, you theoretically try out an identical seat for a fraction of the price (well, if you don’t care about seat maintenance, at least!). Just compare the following two pictures and tell me the difference:

Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 Business Class cabin
Batik Air Boeing 737-800 Business Class cabin

Economy Class

Meanwhile, there are 150 seats in Economy Class, configured in a standard 3-3 layout as you’d find on any other Boeing 737. The seats are clad in an earthy brown-coloured textile, which I find to look quite soothing. Seat selection is free on all domestic flights, since Garuda Indonesia only sells tickets in the highest category Y fare class.

Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 Economy Class cabin
Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 Economy Class cabin

Since the extra-legroom bulkhead seats are already occupied, I selected seat 23K, the window seat in the third row of Economy Class. Despite the relatively denser configuration, I found the legroom to be quite good for Economy Class, with its 31” pitch. At my 180 cm (5’11) height, there was a gap of 11 cm (4.3 inches) between my knees and the seat back, which was fine for this short flight. 

Economy Class legroom on Garuda Indonesia
Economy Class legroom on Garuda Indonesia
Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 Economy Class cabin

Furthermore, each seat is equipped with the now outdated Panasonic ex2 personal inflight entertainment screens. The monitors are touchscreen, which explains the lack of handheld remote controls installed. There is also a coat hook on the side of the seat, in addition to the sturdy tray table on the seatback. I also appreciated that they opted to install overhead air vents over each seat.

Tray table
Literature pocket contents

Despite the ageing cabin, I found the seats to be comfortable and well-padded. This is frankly comfortable enough for a longer regional flight, especially if a pillow is also provided. Very well done, Garuda Indonesia!

Departure from Yogyakarta

Boarding was completed at 16.48, by which time the cabin door was closed. The flight ended up being relatively busy, with 4 of the 12 seats occupied in Business Class and 115 of the 150 seats occupied in Economy Class. During this time, the purser welcomed us on board in Indonesian and English, stating a flight time of one hour and one minute. She also announced that this flight is operated in conjunction with Japan Airlines, KLM, and Malaysia Airlines.

View outside the window during boarding

After the announcement, Garuda Indonesia’s creative safety demonstration video was played. While the video looked a lot like those of other airlines promoting the sights of their respective countries, I liked Garuda’s cheerful and profoundly Indonesian version. Although this video was wholly in Indonesian, English subtitles are also available. Conversely, only the English version is played on international flights.

Safety video

We began pushback at 16.52, at which time the safety video was still playing. As we pushed back, I saw that there were only two other planes at the airport, both of which were Airbus A320-200s belonging to Super Air Jet. It is quite incredible to see how quickly that airline has grown, having only started flying in 2021.

Super Air Jet Airbus A320-200s at Yogyakarta International Airport

The Bogowonto Air ‘wreck’

As we taxied to the runway, we passed by the ‘wreckage’ of Bogowonto Air near the runway. Named after the nearby Bogowonto River, this contraption isn’t actually a plane fuselage. Instead, it is a ground used by the airport’s emergency services to train for any aircraft-related accidents. Still, it never fails to give me a heart attack whenever I land in Yogyakarta. I really can’t wrap my head around how the airport could think putting this realistic-looking fake wreckage near the runway is a good idea!

Bogowonto Air ‘wreck’
Bogowonto Air ‘wreck’


About 13 minutes after pushing back, we finally arrived at Runway 11 before taking off at 17.05, 15 minutes past hour scheduled time of departure. As the sun started to set, we were treated to some very nice views of the southern coast of Java in golden hour.

Take off from Yogyakarta International Airport
Take off from Yogyakarta International Airport

Refreshment Service

The captain turned off the seatbelt signs seven minutes after takeoff. About five minutes later, the cabin crew rolled up the refreshments cart to distribute the refreshments. Given its flight time of less than an hour, Yogyakarta – Jakarta expectedly gets a simplified snack service. This consists of a simple refreshment of bread, mixed nuts, and bottled water contained in a paper bag. Hot snacks and choices or drinks are not available given the flight time of under one and a half hours.

Refreshments bag
Mixed nuts, bread, and bottled water

Although the mixed nuts were fine, I found the bread to be unpalatable. To be specific, it is filled with a sweet, artificially-coloured green jam that does not smell good. And for those of you wondering, no this did not taste anything like pandan-infused kaya jam popular in South East Asia (which I love). At the very least, I appreciate that the cabin crew are warm and friendly, as expected from Garuda Indonesia.

Bread on Garuda Indonesia
Bread on Garuda Indonesia


After the simple refreshment service, I decided to check out the inflight entertainment system. While I think the interface looked nice, I did not like the very unresponsive touch screen on these older Garuda Indonesia planes. For one, the screen lagged badly after selecting an option, which got quite annoying. Curiously, however, the screens have always been this way since the plane was delivered.

Garuda Indonesia inflight entertainment

As I often find to be the case in the past, Garuda Indonesia’s inflight entertainment system is quite lacklustre. In total, there were 72 movies loaded on the system, of which 19 were Indonesian and 15 were Asian. Between the Western choices, there were hardly any new releases apart from a few movies from one year back.

Selection of movies

Since the flight was too short to enjoy a movie, to begin with, I decided to open the inflight map as I often do on short flights. Sadly, the map appeared to be dysfunctional since it had not been reset in a while. Well at least, I do not wish to be gaslit into thinking that we have been flying from Sumatra as we were flying over Java. 😉

Dysfunctional inflight map

As such, I decided to enjoy the spectacular view outside the window for the remaining 30 minutes of the flight.

View out the window inflight


A pair of lavatories in the rear of the cabin are available for Economy Class passengers. Although expectedly small, I was happy to see that it was clean and well-maintained. There was even a bottle of eau de toilette, which you don’t see often on short-haul flights in Economy Class.

Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 lavatory

Arrival in Jakarta

About 20 minutes after the inflight service commenced, the captain came back on the intercom to announce the details of our arrival and the commencement of descent. In particular, he expected us to arrive on time in Jakarta at 18.05. After this announcement, the friendly cabin crew passed through the cabin once again to collect any trash from the meal service.

View out the window inflight

Approximately 10 minutes after his announcement and 15 minutes before landing, the captain turned on the seatbelt signs. This prompted the crew to prepare the cabin for landing, ensuring that all the seats were back upright, the window flights open, and that everything was neat.

Descent on approach to Jakarta

We approached Soekarno-Hatta International Airport from the southwest, passing by the villages and suburbs of Banten before landing. At 18.06, we finally touched down with a smooth landing on Soekarno-Hatta’s new third runway, Runway 06. As we taxied to Terminal 3, the purser welcomed us to Jakarta before turning on the boarding music in the cabin.

On approach to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Landing at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Qantas A330-200 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

We pulled up at our gate in Terminal 3 five minutes later, parking next to another Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800. Before the doors were opened, the crew closed the curtain between Economy and Business Class to allow the latter to disembark. We waited about two minutes before exiting the plane, by which time I thanked the crew for their service.

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Terminal 3
Terminal 3 Arrivals
Garuda Indonesia premium baggage claim


Overall, I had a pleasant and uneventful flight with Garuda Indonesia. While much pricier than its competitors, I appreciate the comfortable and well-maintained seats and the airline’s better overall reputation for safety. Despite the short flight, I’ll also note the warmth and friendliness of the crew on this flight. Having said that would I fly Garuda Indonesia on a domestic flight again? Yes and no. Since their domestic fares are often invariable, I’d definitely book Garuda Indonesia for last-minute flights. Otherwise, I might consider flying Batik Air Business Class for not much more.

Read other reviews of Indonesian airlines here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *