It was an “oh no” (or more epithet-rich) moment. I’d arrived at the Garuda Indonesia Business Class lounge in Denpasar International Airport, and realised I didn’t have my laptop with me – I’d left it in my hotel room.
What to do? A traveller’s nightmare. My work was on the laptop, and not backed up. I couldn’t go back to fetch it; I’d already checked my suitcase in, got my boarding pass and been through customs.
I rang the hotel and an obliging staffer said he’d bring the laptop to the airport in a taxi.
Don’t worry, Devi said. She’d meet the hotel bloke outside the terminal, negotiate her way back through customs and bring the missing Mac to me in the lounge. “Meantime relax and have a drink sir,” she smiled. I did, and half an hour later I was reunited with my laptop.
The story exemplifies The Siteseer’s recent experience with Garuda Indonesia, flying business class Sydney-Denpasar return. For many, travelling economy on any airline internationally is an ordeal. I discovered that this business-class offering, on the other hand, is genuinely something to look forward to. And more business-events travellers are enjoying it, according to Garuda Indonesia, as various accolades attest.
Not everyone knows it, but in 2018 for the fifth year running Indonesia’s national carrier maintained its five-star rating, and was acknowledged as having “The World’s Best Cabin Crew” by Skytrax, the international air transport rating organisation. It also maintained its ranking in the Top 10 of “The World’s Best Airline” list.
Why? In business class it’s a combination of a well-trained and committed cabin crew, the flat-bed seating, the western and Asian cuisine, the fresh modern aircraft and competitive pricing, a spokesman for the airline told The Siteseer.
The pricing in particular is an attraction. Recent promotional offerings for Sydney to Bali/Denpasar business class return on Garuda Indonesia, for instance, were less than AUD 1,000 each way.
It’s another reason for the spokesman to assert that “in a competitive market, we’re holding our own”.
“Competition is fierce,” he says, “but as the only full-service airline to Bali [from Australia], passengers appreciate our offering.”
Moreover, Garuda Indonesia actively targets group and conference travel as part of its marketing plans, having recently hosted two major Australian groups to Bali along with many school and special interest travellers.
In other news, the airline recently launched its Bali-to-Mumbai direct flights with A330-300 aircraft, new destinations in China as well as several new domestic routes. Its most important markets from Australia are Bali and the Indonesian archipelago, served by a large network to the islands. Meanwhile Jakarta-London services that had been suspended were resumed in December.
I especially liked the in-seat power for my digital devices, the bus that collected business class passengers from the base of the boarding stairs once we’d left the plane at Bali (after a short return trip from Denpasar to Lombok). Plus the fact that my case arrived off the belts almost immediately, the beautiful uniforms of the women staff (inspired by a batik motif), and best of all the lie-flat bed with thick warm blanket, which meant I could get some actual sleep on the overnight leg from Bali to Sydney.
The service and food were a match for any airline business class offering I’ve experienced. The flight departed virtually on time when I left Sydney, even though the airport was experiencing delays that day because of storms, with only a single runway operating.
Lunch selections on the Sydney-to-Denpasar leg, after a choice of starters, such as Indonesian beef-rib soup, included braised chicken leg with curry sauce, grilled beef tenderloin with thyme sauce and vegetables, pan-seared barramundi with mushroom ragout and roasted asparagus tart.
Checking in as a business class passenger, for this scribe, in Denpasar, was a first-time-ever experience. Guided by a Garuda Indonesia staffer, I bypassed the economy queue and was ushered into a separate check-in enclosure where I could sit on a sofa while my bags and boarding pass were processed.
A short walk took me through customs and up an elevator to the lounge – the one in which I was reunited with my laptop – with great hot and cold Indonesian food, local beers and an Australian wine selection.
All in all, an experience to be savoured, and repeated.
“Conference organisers seeking group rates should contact Garuda Indonesia directly, or their travel provider,” the spokesman says.
For Garuda Indonesia group bookings phone + 61 2 9334 994, or click here.