The moment had finally arrived. It was time to fly Garuda Indonesia First Class.
Nanda and Roni, my two first class assistants, asked me if I would like to board first or last. Had the internet been working in the lounge, perhaps I would have said last, but I said first. I requested we leave a bit earlier than boarding so I could walk around after sitting for six hours in the lounge.
In Jakarta, security occurs at your gate rather than as you enter the airport or passport control. For this reason, our first stop was security. Roni had my bag again and told me just to go through security and he would meet me on the other side. I did not even have to worry about pushing my bag along the x-ray belt!
On the other side we found a crowded gate area. Roni and Nanda invited me to have a seat but I told them I would stand since I would be seated the next 14 hours. Moments later they invited me to come onboard. No boarding pass or passport check, I just walked right through the boarding door and onto the jetbridge with them on either side of me.
Garuda Indonesia (GA) 88
Jakarta (CGK) – Amsterdam (AMS)
Friday, February 17, 2017
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 2K (First Class)
The crew was waiting for me like this at the door–
I took this picture after the flight, but all four of the tremendous first class flight attendants could not have appeared happier nor provided more more polished, professional, yet heartwarmingly friendly service.
Garuda Indonesia First Class Service
Certainly Garuda First Class has many outstanding aspects, but the service was simply incredible. I don’t know about you, but it is fun to be treated like a king once in awhile. On this flight each of the seven first class passengers was treated like royalty.
Start with the shoe service. A FA knelt down at my seat and laid out a red towel and placed a pair of high quality slippers on them. Then she asked me to remove my shoes. With white gloves on, she carefully placed my shoes into a shoe bag and asked if I would prefer that they be stored in my closet or if she could take them.
Even ANA or JAL don’t offer this!
Throughout the flight I was addressed by name and every detail of the service was carefully executed. Every napkin was carefully laid down and every item on my dining tray deliberately placed. My bed was carefully made and my glass never empty.
Yet service was gentle and not overbearing. There was no hurry, yet it was not too slow. There was no pretentiousness, yet there was also no hint of acting. Put simply, I can count on one hand the number of flights that have had service as good as this one.
Garuda First Class Suites
The seats in Garuda First Class are fully-enclosed suites. The 777-300ER contains eight seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
The seat is brown in color with yellow pillows and dark brown woodgrain. Traveling alone, I chose 2K, a window seat. Two storage compartments along the window provided ample storage for smaller items and even my laptop. The larger flip-up storage container contained a device to control the in-flight-entermtainment, USB port, universal power plug, and bottle of water.
A small closet provides enough room for your clothing (when you change into your pajamas) and perhaps a small bag underneath it.
In the lie-flat mode the bed spanned over 6’5″ and was spacious even with the privacy door closed. If you are in the middle section traveling solo, a privacy divider slides up.
FAs prepared my bed while I brushed my teeth and applied some face creme in the lavatory. The bedding and pillows were soft and though the cabin became a bit warm, the individual air nozzles helped to keep my suite cool.
Garuda First Class Food
Departing at 10:45p, I figured we would still be offered dinner since the flight was over 14 hours. Indeed, the menu contained a full dinner service followed by a mid-flight snack service followed by breakfast prior to landing. Here is the complete menu and wine list–
Note the comprehensive wine list and even the special tea menu!
Service began with a choice of beverage, chilled towel, and ramekin of macadamia nuts prior to pushback.
One of the male FAs donned a chef’s uniform and came over to my seat to introduce himself and verified that my requested lack of lamb had been loaded. If you did not read this post on my e-mail interaction with Garuda prior to my flight, check it out — it underscores just how great the service is in Garuda First Class starting from the moment of booking.
Meal service began with the table being laid: everything (silverware, glass, s&p shakers, butter dish, bread basket) was carefully placed.
First came the caviar course, including a mother of pearl spoon. Also served were rice crackers.
Soup came next and if there was one (minor) disappointment in the flight, I guess this would be it — my soup was not poured at my seat (as it was for Ford and Lucky). Somehow I managed to survive. The pumpkin soup was exquisite.
Since I was having lamb for the main course, I had a glass of Bordeaux which proved a great choice:
Next up came an exceptional scallops course, my favorite seafood. The three scallops were garnished with sun-dried and freshly sliced tomatoes.
Finally, the main course arrived — a beautiful rack of lamb with pesto sauce. The meat was of high-quality and cooked medium. A tremendously delicious main course.
I know it looks like a lot of food, but it actually was a perfect amount.
Rather than a heavy cheese course followed by rich dessert, a fruit dish was offered — fitting for the late hour. I had a cappuccino as well–
After dinner I worked for a bit. A FA came by my seat with a snack basket–
We both laughed: it had been just an hour since dinner!
After preparing my bed, the same FA asked me if I wished to be woken for breakfast. I told her yes.
Breakfast + what about the berries?
If you read my e-mail exchange with Garuda, you know that in addition to rack of lamb I requested mixed berries on the flight. About a day prior to the flight in an e-mail that I missed, Garuda asked me to clarify whether I wanted fresh berries or a berry-based dessert. Since I never answered the question, I figured I would likely not have any berries. Hold that thought.
Breakfast service began a little more than an hour prior to arrival. It had been many hours since I had eaten so I was now rather hungry. Breakfast started with a warm towel and glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in a champagne flute.
The table was intricately set once again and a bread basket with delicious-smelling warmed pastries set down. A side of vanilla yogurt and small fruit course appeared along with a cappuccino.
I could not decide whether I wanted eggs or waffles so ordered both. “No problem” said the chef. He sheepishly came back to me about 10 minutes later and said the fried eggs had “fallen apart” and wanted to know if scrambled was okay. Of course it was — the freshest scrambled eggs I have ever had on an airplane. The waffles tasted great as well.
But while I was waiting my berries appeared — a bowl of delicious ripe strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. “Here are your berries as requested, Mr. Klint,” said the FA. Wow!
Most slept through breakfast so I asked if I could try the bircher muesli as well and was very gladly obliged. This was even better than the eggs or waffles. One more cappuccino and I was set for the morning!
Garuda First Class IFE
I did not use the in-flight entertainment system much during the flight, but can verify there is a wide variety of programming available. I did use the noise-canceling headphones which were of high quality.
Garuda First Class Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is available onboard and free for class passengers. A FA came around to each seat with the Wi-Fi code for the flight. I understand that passengers are usually given a card with a unique code on it, but everyone appeared to use the same code for this flight.
The internet worked throughout much of the flight and though not fast, was more than sufficient to check e-mail, keep up on news, and surf the web.
Garuda 777-300 Amenity Kit + Pajamas
Waiting for me at my seat was an amenity kit from Loewe, a selection of newspapers and magazines, and a writing kit with paper, envelopes, and a pen.
During boarding, a FA asked me for my preferred pajama size. I said XL but that was still to small–I regret not ordering an XXL. The pajamas themselves were stylish and comfortable, but I like pajamas that have pockets — my cell phone always stays with me.
Garuda 777-300 Lavatory
The lavatory was a bit larger than standard and contained cloth towels and an assortment of amenities including Evian mineral water spray. It was cleaned after every use. For those who may not be aware of proper onboard toilet etiquette, Garuda includes an illustrated guide:
Garuda 777-300 Business Class
Just in case you are wondering, I took a look at business class as well. The lie-flat seats are in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration and would be perfectly comfortable for a longhaul journey.
How Did I Book This?
I took advantage of a 90%-off sale on the redemption of miles. You can read the whole saga here–
Success: Booking Garuda First Class for 90% Off!
Garuda Cancels Promo, Will Honor Held Reservations
My Strategy for Ticketing the Garuda Reservation
My Garuda First Class Award is Ticketed!
Garuda First Class Team Contacts Me by Email
While the first class lounge did not meet expectations, the flight surpassed all expectations. The crew was incredible, food amazing, and seat comfortable. 14 hours was not enough! We landed early to dark, foggy morning in Amsterdam and had to wait about 25 minutes before our gate opened. I had turned down the 300EUR offer for ground service in Amsterdam, but had no trouble navigating to a Priorty Pass lounge where I spent the morning while I waited for my room at the Andaz to be ready. Incidentally, it appears full fare passengers do receive ground services in Amsterdam including chauffeur service into the city.
If you are the type of flyer who buys first class tickets, Garuda is definitely for you — Amsterdam – Jakarta flights are reasonable priced (often $1700 one-way) and the entire experience is a pleasure. Honestly, I don’t know if I ever will have the pleasure of flying Garuda First Class again, but I sure hope so!