Date: May 7, 2017
Flight No.: GA217
Route: Yogyakarta Adisutjipto to Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta
Airline: Garuda Indonesia
Type: Boeing 737-800
To get back from Yogyakarta after the day I spent there during my way back to Japan from Europe at the beginning of this month, I flew with a Garuda Indonesia 737-800. Even though there was a delay and the ground experience was a bit confusing, the airline itself exceeded my expectations – especially given that it was just a short domestic hop. For comparison, you can also check my review of Indonesia AirAsia on the same route in reverse.
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Waiting for the Flight
At the end of my tour with JavaBaliTrips, I was dropped of at the airport. Even though the check-in desks were still showing signs for GA215 – an earlier flight – I had no problem with getting a boarding pass for mine.
The whole check-in process was a breeze since I am a status holder with SkyTeam (comes as a perk of my Delta AMEX).
With the boarding pass in my hand, I headed through the security and checked out the Borobudur Lounge which is part of the Priority Pass network.
I got out of the lounge around 7:50PM. However, when I got out, I noticed that my flight was delayed until 9:10PM. So, I spent the rest of the time waiting in the crowded gate area.
Boarding the Garuda Indonesia 737-800 with Confusion
Confusion #1: Which gate?
Shortly before nine, people gathered in front of gate 3 where the flight was indicated on the screen. To comply with Indonesian regulations about delays, there were also bottles of water provided on the counter for the passengers to take.
Soon after that, however, also the screen at gate 4 showed as my flight. I decided to stick to gate 3 and in the end it turned out both gates could be used. That was the first, slight confusion.
Confusion #2: Which aircraft?
The second confusion came when we were let through the door and started walking to the aircraft. Half of the passengers went to the left (the correct direction) and half, including me, went to the right (the wrong direction).
It happened as there was a Garuda 737 on both sides of the apron, and there was no one to direct the people. The only indication of which was the right aircraft was a small sign saying “GA217 JAKARTA” in front of the correct aircraft.
Confusion #3: Which door?
The final confusion arose when I got to the correct aircraft. Passengers were boarding through both the front and the rear door. Looking at my seat number – 27C, I figured it would be one of the last rows and so I got on through the rear door.
Getting onboard, I realized that was a mistake given that Garuda has three rows of business class numbered 6 through 8, and then economy class starts with row 21.
Long story short, I was not the only one who made that false assumption, and so the situation onboard was messier than, perhaps, any other boarding that I remember. People sitting in the back who just entered through the front door were trying to make their way to the back. People who entered through the rear door were trying to make their way to the front.
Anyways, after a couple of minutes of trying to reach my seat, I managed to do so.
Departing Yogyakarta Adisutjipto Airport
Jumping a couple of minutes back to the boarding, at the door, there was a flight attendant welcoming passengers and a cart next to her with newspapers and candies – nice touch!
The seats themseleves were covered in a velvety cloth – something I haven’t seen before, and were quite comfortable. There was also enough legroom for the short flight. As Garuda also uses these aircraft on longer sectors, the seats were equipped with IFE screens.
Once everyone was onboard and seated, the cabin crew performed the safety demonstration. Rather than using the PA for the announcements, the cabin attendant simply spoke loudly without any amplification – another first for me.
At 9:29PM the doors were closed, and at 9:30PM it was time for a safety demonstration again – this time on the IFE screens.
Another minute later, we were pushed back, and after a bit of taxiing, we reached the departure runway. A bumpy take-off roll followed, and at 9:44PM we lifted off into the dark Indonesian skies.
The seatbelt sign was switched off just three minutes later and the lights were switched on.
In-Flight Service Onboard Garuda Indonesia Flight 217
As I was expecting maybe a drink service at most on this sub-one-hour segment, I was surprised when the crew rolled out a cart and started serving snack boxes to passengers. It instantly reminded me of the hospitable domestic flights in Iran where a person is never let off a plane without having something to eat.
The snack box contained a piece of bread filled with (what I believe was a) red bean paste, a pack of nuts, a bottle of water, and a wet tissue.
Separately from that, drinks were served as well. I went with orange juice. They also had apple and guava juices available.
Garuda Indonesia 737-800 In-Flight Entertainment System
While the flight was not long enough to watch a TV show or a movie, there was plenty of time to play around with the IFE to at least have a look at what options it offers.
Interestingly, in the beginning, besides choosing the language, it is also possible to choose one of three “skins” for the system. I am not sure I have seen this on any of the airlines I’ve been on before.
Once past the title screen, there is the main menu with 5 main options – movies, music, TV shows, “Kid’s World,” and Games.
In terms of the actual offering, it was pretty solid. There were 70 movies including plenty of (new and old) Hollywood titles. There were also 109 episodes of TV shows including some Friends episodes and other Western TV shows.
Music included over 250 albums including plenty of English songs.
Finally, there were 50 games to choose from – quite the number!
As for the “Kid’s World” section, it featured a selection of videos, music, and games in a “kids-friendly” environment.
Of course, there was also the airshow with flight information and map. For some reason, it indicated the time zone as GMT +55 hours…
Overall, the in-flight entertainment system selection was very good – and would keep a person occupied for any short or medium-haul flight that the 737 might operate.
Approaching Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport
With the snack eaten and IFE system explored, I dived into the seat pocket. It contained a clear file with “Colours” in-flight magazine, “Arcade” in-flight shopping catalog, “Stars” in-flight entertainment guide, a safety card, and a waste bag. Separately, there was also a headset.
By the time I was done with checking out the seat pocket, we were starting the descent.
The seatbelt sign was switched back on at 10:18PM – less than 35 minutes after taking off from Yogyakarta. At the same time, the crew made an announcement that there would be no time difference between Jakarta and Yogyakarta and that it was 36 degrees in Jakarta.
At first I found it strange that they would announce that there was no time difference, but then I realized that some of the Indonesian domestic flights (like Jakarta to Bali) actually cross a time zone.
Ten minutes later, we touched down on runway 25L of Jakarta airport, and another 12 minutes later we reached our parking position at terminal 3.
I bid a farewell to the crew, got off the Garuda Indonesia 737, and headed into my hotel for a quick rest before flying back to Japan the next day.
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