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Garuda trip report KNO-LHR direct, economy class

Garuda trip report KNO-LHR direct, economy class

Old Jan 2, 20, 11:15 am
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Garuda trip report KNO-LHR direct, economy class

12 December GA86

The flight was nearly empty (90 pax) because this route is stupid as even at low prices Indonesians simply can't fly to London on a whim due to visa regulations and there certainly aren't many foreigners in Medan, though the full routing was DPS-KNO-LHR, and most passengers were ex-DPS

Check-in at Medan was not ideal as I don't think there are any other Garuda international flights, and the check-in kiosk did not allow check-in for international flights, so I was mixed in with the domestic passengers. It was about a 10 minute wait.

Immigration etc was very quick, so really no more than 10 minutes from check-in to gate.

I think this was the extent of the passengers boarding at KNO, because this really is a stupid idea for a route, if ideal for me

This was the rear part of the economy cabin on this A332, as most passengers were in the front part.

this a332 is I guess quite old with low Res IFE.

I had selected a bulkhead seat but this was a poor choice:

due to the immovable armrests. Also a lot of people circulated around this area (someone did sit there after take off) to gain access to the toilets

The row behind was better with 4 seats to myself and the legroom seemed ok to me at 6'. Actually 2-4-2 doesn't seem too bad on this plane.

I had broken my headphones in Indonesia so had to make do with Garuda's. Three of the four pairs on my row were broken. They were typical $1 headphones as you'd expect. The economy amenity kit had ear plugs, socks and a cheap eye mask. It was cold as you'd hope on a flight to London in December.

We were offered a stone-cold towel after take off, but I did not partake.

The lunch was served about an hour after take off and was not too great, a choice of sweet sour fish or 'opor ayam' (chicken) with young jackfruit and tempeh. The chicken you could certainly find better on the streets of Medan and the jackfruit and tempeh were a little sweet.

The salad of smoked chicken was nasty smoke flavour and God knows what kind of chicken they use for that stuff, they really need salmon here or just do boiled egg or vegetables with vinaigrette.

The mango mousse had no discernible mango flavour and kinda chemically. It was slightly more edible than the salad though.

The bread roll was soft and warm with soft Anchor butter, quite nice in fact.

I was not sure whether to blame the catering on Medan being a bit of a dump or if it was loaded in Bali

Merlot wine was served in a paper cup the first barely half a glass full but the second less mean. It was drinkable enough for sure, especially after being in Indonesia for a while. I assume Garuda don't pay the usual 100% import duty plus tax this so no reason to be mean with the pours.

IFE was very low Res screen, with no WiFi. kinda like a download from 2005. Also there was the worst selection of movies I have seen on a plane for many years. Not so much that they were all terrible, but there were about half-a-dozen Indonesian movies (generally unwatchable, even though I speak the language), and about six new blockbusters. So if you'd already seen Detective Pikachu and Angel has Fallen you'd probably struggle to find. I think the very primitive IFE will put people off.

Since the flight took off at 11:30 Indonesian time and arrived 18:15 (though it was around 15 minutes late), the second meal was dinner, and an opportunity for two more tiny pours of Merlot. The dinner was much the same story as lunch, kinda bland Indonesian food or a Western option and a nasty-artificial-tasting jelly like thing.

The cabin crew were quite ok, I did try to sleep some of the flight so not fully aware of the whole thing (it was a VERY long duration because of headwinds, of 14 hours), but they did come around with a granola bar and some nuts, to which I was told 'why not both', and indeed I took both.

I live in the KNO area and near LHR so the flight is perfect for me, but I can't see Garuda flying to too long. The day before the flight it was still on sale for around 9.5 million rupiah return (around £520), which is a silly price really near Christmas, and considering that with the domestic cartel that has grown up for domestic flights, you could easily pay more than that for a return domestic flight from one end of Indonesia to the other. But no complaints from my side on the pricing!

I should probably have flown the day earlier, for personal reasons, but that would have been KNO-AMS-LHR (also ex-DPS), but the 12th was the first KNO-LHR direct after a suspension in service (not sure why). But anyway, there's something to be said for direct flights, even if cheapos like me are not a lucrative market.

KNO-LHR is hardly a popular route but you can probably fly on SQ with a short stopover, and with MH or MH/BA with maybe a longer stopover and often baggage mishandling (IME), also Jetstar & BA. GA's food was pretty bad (Air Asia manage to load tasty meals from minor airports for a fee of around 10 MYR), but not a deal breaker, but the IFE was worse to the extent that you'd definitely want to bring a laptop and a bunch of movies or something. 5* airline? In Economy? I think not.....
meester69 is offline  
Old Jan 4, 20, 4:31 am
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Was rerouted onto GA in November.
Excellent service and flight from AMS to DPS.
Food was Excellent.

Qatar Airways is offline  
Old Jan 4, 20, 11:03 pm
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Indeed, it looks like KNO-LHR is disappearing after March 31.
Artagnan is offline  
Old Jan 5, 20, 1:58 am
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Thanks for an interesting trip report. I took a domestic GA flight today and wasn't too impressed either.

Any idea why they don't fly CGK-LHR?
camsean is offline  
Old Jan 5, 20, 7:33 am
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Originally Posted by Artagnan View Post
Indeed, it looks like KNO-LHR is disappearing after March 31.
Yep, NEO has been dropped from both LHR and AMS too, so God knows what they're planning to do with it.

I'm afraid Garuda is one of the few airlines I won't touch as the chance of actually flying the route you booked on the day you booked is unacceptably poor (particularly from LHR)!

Originally Posted by camsean View Post
Thanks for an interesting trip report. I took a domestic GA flight today and wasn't too impressed either.

Any idea why they don't fly CGK-LHR?
They did once upon a time (although they could only fly LHR-CGK non-stop and not CGK-LHR given issues with the runway at CGK). There are plenty of posts on here about the saga of Garuda's ever-changing LHR and AMS routes!
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Old Jan 6, 20, 1:48 pm
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Originally Posted by camsean View Post
Thanks for an interesting trip report. I took a domestic GA flight today and wasn't too impressed either.

Any idea why they don't fly CGK-LHR?
oh they did.....


they also flew from LGW at one time.

I booked LHR-CGK with a CGK-KNO connection once and it was quite an unpleasant experience just because it was such a long flight and then the connection at CGK is not much fun compared to KUL or SIN. When my wife flew the same route her baggage got caught up in customs at CGK, which had to be manually forwarded on, so that was much worse compared to arriving on an international flight into KNO from SIN/KUL.

I've booked LHR-DOH-PEN for my kids the last couple of years, I like Penang a lot so I go meet them there and then a PEN-KNO hop is just like taking a bus really. It looks like GA88/GA89 (AMS-KNO direct) is still continuing, but I don't know if I'd be brave enough to book it in more than a week or two ahead because you'll never know if you're going to end up getting rerouted LHR-AMS-CGK-KNO and then probably a morning flight ex-CGK or something with no possible connection from KNO the same day.
meester69 is offline  
Old Jan 6, 20, 11:58 pm
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Great TR - hope you enjoyed LHR :-)
gaobest is offline  
Old Jan 13, 20, 5:38 am
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For check-in at the return leg I had 35kg in my suitcase, so I had to move some into my hand luggage. I also checked in a bicycle in a box (free of charge). I asked for an empty row but they said I could move after take-off - the reason being the airline was less than 1/3 full.

The security staff at LHR T4 were not very friendly. 'Have you got anything sharp in your bag.' 'I don't think so but I don't know really, it's quite full.' Eventually she pulled out my pedal spanner for my bike. 'This is not allowed.' 'Why not?' It's a tool, tools are not allowed, you should have checked before coming, you can't bring it, you can check it in or throw it away.' So I checked the Heathrow website, which is not very clear on the matter: https://www.heathrow.com/at-the-airp...ge-and-liquids and asked for clarification, but she refused to look at it and then called someone else to say I was being rude. I said 'well I'd like to check it in', and then she said 'have you got a bag to check in?' , and I said 'no', so she said 'well you'll have to throw it away then'.

It turned out I also had a screwdriver in my bag but she didn't find that. Unfortunately my spanner was a fairly nice one and the screwdriver rather cheap.... But anyway.

So I went to Duty Free to buy a bottle of gin, but they said 'no can do, you are flying to the EU'. I tried to explain that Medan is not in the EU, and they said 'Computer says no'. The computer was showing my destination as Knokke heliport https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knokke...pelle_Heliport which I guess once had the code KNO, but not at least since Medan Kuala Namu opened in 2013. I said 'just choose Jakarta or Bali', but they said I could get in trouble with customs. Anyway, I tried one of the other three Duty Free outlets (same company, different outlet in T4), and the people there seemed like they knew better what was going on (I don't know why the first shop couldn't have called them when I asked for a manager), and they said 'oh yes we had this problem the other day with Medan', and just put my destination as Denpasar, Bali.

Anyway, the plane, a 777-300ER was delayed by an hour, and had an economy cabin in 3 sections of 138, 114 and 126 seats, plus 26 business class seats. The passenger load was around 100 in Economy, which they loaded into the rear of the economy cabin. After take-off there was more than enough seats for everyone to have their own 'row' (the seats are in 3-3-3 configuration), so I moved to the middle section, and took three wing seats.

To my surprise the on-board AV movie selection was just as bad as on the A332, so I didn't use it at all, save for the moving map.

I had got some new headphones over Christmas, Sony WH-CH700N. I am far from sure these headphones are better than my old 7DayShop branded noise-cancelling ones, save that they had Bluetooth. In true Sony/Apple cheap fashion they provide neither carry-case nor airline adaptor. But anyway I just used them for music from my mobile phone. There was a message broadcast about not being allowed to charge from power banks which seemed a bit off until I noticed the full 220V and USB charging ports under the seats.

THey did not give me a menu but maybe this was because I moved seats. The food was certainly better ex-LHR, albeit kinda bland. For dinner I had plain white rice with plain broccoli (not overcooked) and some kind of Indonesian braised beef of which the name I am not sure as I didn't have a menu. There was also the ubiquitous Lily O Brien chocolate mousse & a bread roll which strangely came with margarine rather than butter. Strange as they had butter ex-Indonesia, and butter is certainly cheaper in London. There was also a salad/coleslaw of red onion/cabbage, which was much better than the disgusting smoked chicken effort from Indonesia.

Red wine pours were of reasonable amount but maybe this was a crew thing. The bottled water was Indonesian 'Aqua' brand, which seems a bit unnecessary but maybe they had left over from the outbound.

Breakfast was served about 2:10 before landing, which is creditably late for Y class. There was eggs or 'nasi kuning', which was quite bland just yellow rice and chicken. But edible. The croissant came with margarine again. There was also a fruit salad which was nice.

Being late into Medan it was not much fun for many of the passengers. Garuda were doing their best and tried to stop me to ask me about my connection, as it seemed nearly all the passengers were connecting to Jakarta (Denpasar passengers remained on the plane), but I said 'no I'm going to Medan'. Everyone for Jakarta had to clear immigration, have their bags inspected at customs, and then check the bag for the domestic connection, which meant going out into the public area and then upstairs to departures. This means Garuda is automatically worse than any number of other airlines that fly into Jakarta, e.g., Qatar, Malaysia, Singapore, Etihad, Emirates, Thai, without going through this performance of twice claiming baggage.

I think in total out of around 100 pax around 2/3 were to Bali (so staying on the plane, and international arrivals in Denpasar), about 3 or 4 were to Medan, and the rest were to Jakarta.

Customs were being quite vigorous. I had 9 litres of alcohol in my bag so I was quite happy that they focused on my bicycle and ignored that. This was usual joined-up thinking as Garuda provide a free bicycle allowance and then at Customs they harass you about it. They wanted a photo of me on my bike. Generally most Indonesians don't do bicycling without taking a photo but I showed my Strava instead as I don't think I had any photos. They said 'you know actually used goods are not allowed into Indonesia', and I said 'well how about my clothes, etc.'. They didn't really have a good answer to this and inevitably let me through. It is kind of easier for to deal with Indonesians than jobsworths in London because all the rules are a bit unclear in Indonesia but also flexible....

Last edited by meester69; Jan 13, 20 at 8:10 pm
meester69 is offline  
Old Jan 18, 20, 9:57 am
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Originally Posted by camsean View Post
Thanks for an interesting trip report. I took a domestic GA flight today and wasn't too impressed either.

Any idea why they don't fly CGK-LHR?
Not possible with the aircraft they are using hence the tech stop in SIN on the outbound but can do LHR CGK direct on the inbound
adampenrith is offline  
Old Jan 21, 20, 1:21 pm
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Flew LHR-KNO-DPS on NYE, then a domestic DPS-JOG-DPS a few days later. Was in the ‘cheap seats’ on all flights. Seat pitch was decent in economy and was pleasantly surprised with the food (on international legs), both quantity and quality. IFE was ANCIENT. Ex-LHR we were on the A330-200 with a system a good 10 years past it’s prime. Woeful selection of entertainment for a flight of that length.

Had been primed by blogs and forums as to GA’s unreliability so I booked directly with the airline (only £5 diff than OTA) to be in a better position in case of any shenanigans. Sure enough, 2days before departure I get the “flight modification” email (my 3rd, in fact) changing my 8am DPS-KNO-LHR return to an 8pm DPS-AMS. Landing in AMS at 730am when I was supposed to be at my desk IN LONDON at 9am was unacceptable. However, a quick phone call later and I was on GA to SIN, SQ to LON - no complaints here! Yes I still landed at silly o’clock, had to go direct to the office and have only just recovered from jet lag 6 days later...but at least I caught up on my films

Not surprised there are still issues on this route. GA are a bit of a sh**show, which is a shame: service was decent.
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divawithabackpack is offline  
Old Jan 22, 20, 12:44 am
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this is a stupid route but in a way, I am glad that it's working alright for you (and other Medanese)
Garuda is recently exposed of some scandals, it's clear that this airline is not currently well run.
it's a shame because three or four years ago, their service is comparable to the big boys of the region.
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Old Jan 27, 20, 3:19 pm
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Maybe this is why they opened the route, LOL


Executive smuggling Harleys back into KNO.
rdurlabhji is offline  
Old Feb 23, 20, 3:59 am
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They have now changed the ams-kno route to ams-cgk.

Passengers holding bookings for kno have not been offered a connection to kno from cgk. Since this was the only European flight from kno, there was a small but significant knock-on as you could fly to AMS from pretty much anywhere in Europe direct, and get the non-stop to KNO. Now flying via AMS, from say Berlin to Medan, makes no sense

Usual Garuda mismanagement....
meester69 is offline  
Old Feb 25, 20, 9:46 am
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I'm loving the "9 litres of alcohol in my bag" part of the TR

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Old Feb 29, 20, 2:29 am
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thanks for posting
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