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Old Sep 9, 2014, 12:45 pm
Join Date: Oct 2011
Programs: FB Platinum for Life
Posts: 1,019
Report on Inaugural Garuda Flight AMS – LGW

Fortunately, I made it to check in on time. So, here’s a quick report on the trip.

Garuda check-in, including for SkyPriority, is in Departures 3, row 30 at Schiphol. So, separate to the main KLM SkyPriority checkin area, but actually quite convenient for the non-Schengen Crown lounge, and the Garuda gate (which normally seems to be in the G pier).

At AMS, there didn’t appear to be anything to mark the fact it was a new flight. The check-in agent mentioned it briefly, but the lounge agent seemed somewhat bemused to see a Garuda boarding pass with destination Gatwick, and I had to explain it was a brand new flight. Similarly, one of the security staff at the gate seemed to think there were two flights going from the same gate – one operated by Garuda, and one to Gatwick – without realising they were the same thing.

I was travelling in J (as others have mentioned, it is reasonably priced for this sector; and it seemed a good opportunity to try out Garuda’s product). The seats are full flatbeds, and seemed similar to AZ’s long-haul Magnifica seats – with an interlocking arrangement, so the footwell for one seat is under a high table area for the one in front; and in the middle section, every other row has two seats next to each other (good for couples travelling together – although I assume there is a raising divider if you’re travelling on your own). In-seat power, and a large (fixed) IFE screen, with what seemed to be a wide range of movies and music (although I didn’t have much time to try it out on a ~45 minute flight!) There was a pillow and headphones, but no amenity kit on this flight (presumably there would be one on a longer flight).

At the front of the plane there are 8 First class seats (which I didn’t get to see), then a small cabin with 2-3 rows of business; then aft of the galley is a larger business class section with 7 rows, which I was in. However, the forward cabin is probably preferable, as it would have a more intimate and quieter feel. Similarly, immediately aft of business there is a small economy cabin before the next bulkhead – which again would probably be preferable to the main economy cabin.

In business, there were welcome drinks, and then a cold meal was served after take-off. The business class cabin was not crowded, and the crew were friendly and attentive.

Interestingly no announcements seemed to be made (at least, not in English) regarding the fact this was the first flight to Gatwick – and I was a bit concerned that nothing would be done to mark the event upon arrival. However, upon approaching the gate, there were two fire trucks lined up, and so we received the ‘fire truck water arch’ as we passed under the bridge – which probably looked much more impressive from outside than inside (see here for an exterior photo). Lots of airport staff seemed to be out on the apron, taking photos.

Once at the gate, the captain was the first to disembark, and in the jetway there was a group of people (I think Garuda station staff, people from the Indonesian embassy, and probably airport officials as well) waiting to greet him, and the other invited guests on the flight. Upon leaving the jetway, there were two women dressed as guards (of the sort that guard the royal palaces, etc), handing out ‘Beefeater Bears’ to each passenger, as a souvenir of London. Further along were two more women dressed in Indonesian outfits.

I didn’t get to see what, if anything, was being done to mark the departure of the return flight.

We pushed back in AMS more-or-less on-time, but then had a Polderbaan departure, had to stack over East Sussex before landing, and then wait briefly on taxiway (presumably while the firetrucks got into position). So, we were at the gate about 15-20 minutes late, and I can imagine that the departing flight was delayed as well.

Anyhow, overall it was a fun trip, and this new route could be a very useful option for those who need to fly AMS-LGW or vv (as well as for those who want to fly to from the UK to Indonesia, of course!) I also liked Garuda’s business class product and would be very happy to fly it long-haul.

My next flight was in economy on a WX Fokker 50 out of LCY. Quite adequate for what it is – but not the same as the full flatbed on Garuda!
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