Tag Archives: airlines

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.

Airbus 330 - ex SYD ex MELThen I explained the situation to a smartly-uniformed young woman, whose name tag read Devi Susanti, working at the Garuda Indonesia Business Lounge front desk.

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.”

DSC000351-1024x682Moreover, 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.

Siteseer says

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.

IMG_2849The 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.

More information

“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.


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The Philippine low-cost airline Cebu Pacific, the largest carrier in the islands flying to almost all Asian capital cities, is increasingly making a name for itself as a player in the events market, offering competitive discounts for groups of a minimum of 15 people.

And the airline – a subsidiary of JG Summit Holdings, one of the largest conglomerates in the Philippines – is flexible and open to receiving approaches from MICE organisers.

Atty. JR Mantaring, CEB Vice President for Corporate Affairs“Any PCO or event manager organising an event in the islands, whether it’s a familiarisation trip, conference or incentive should contact our corporate booking office to discuss their requirements in more detail,” says Atty JR Mantaring (pictured, left), Cebu Pacific’s Vice President for Corporate Affairs.

“Cebu Pacific stands out in the industry because of our extensive reach, offering low-cost services and a safe and fun travel experience to the widest selection of destinations across the country,” he says. “And we do it more frequently than any other airline, making the Philippines a really accessible gateway.”

Sydney-Manila from AUD 199

The airline works hard to offer low fares all year round, but also has many good ‘ad hoc’ sales. For example a recent deal offered Sydney to Manila flights, all in, for just AUD 199.

As a quick glance at the website confirms, the airline has established a big variety of routes within the Philippines and Asia, connecting airports through its six major hubs: Manila, Clark, Cebu, Davao, Kalibo and Iloilo. “Having multiple routes and flights allows us to offer the most competitive fares; it lets people save on the flight and splurge on the destination,” says Atty Mantaring.

Like more and more successful enterprises, Cebu Pacific incorporates the use of social media as an intrinsic part of its marketing campaigns. Recently, for instance, it launched its ‘Beach Bum Academy,’ offering prizes of all-expenses-paid holidays by the beach in partnership with the Department of Tourism Philippines, Henann Resort and Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

ATR72-600-CebuPacificTo enter the competition, participants had to post a 30- to 60-second video of themselves on a social platform and share the link via the Cebu Pacific Beach Bums entry form. Atty Mantaring sees this kind of promotion as crucial for almost any business these days. “We understand guests love sharing their views and experiences online,” he says, “so we encourage them to engage with us on multiple platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.”

In other news, Cebu Pacific is adding new ATR 72-600 aircraft (left) to its fleet of 60-plus planes. It offers a better passenger experience thanks to its larger cabin and additional seating capacity to support even lower fares, he says.

“We’ll progressively replace our current fleet of eight ATR 72-500s, configured with 72 seats, with the fleet of 16 new ATR 72-600s which have 78 seats. Deliveries 600s will run through until 2020.”

The airline has just opened an office in Korea, which it believes will strengthen its international appeal in the Asia-Pacific, he adds.

The latest seat sales can be found on Cebu Pacific’s official Twitter (@CebuPacificAir) and Facebook pages. For bookings and inquiries, visit www.cebupacificair.com or call the reservation hotline at +612 9119 2956.


A spate of reports about people behaving badly on planes and the arrival of a “PassengerShaming” Facebook page serve as timely reminders to business travellers that being rude to flight attendants can have repercussions.

It’s a sad and sobering truth that in the reminiscences of flight crew, business travellers – perhaps because of their imagined self-importance – often feature.

But staff have a variety of methods of getting even.

High wind areas
At the end of a demanding flight, according to David Sedaris, a scribe for The New Yorker, some attendants indulge in the practice of “cropdusting,” silently passing wind as they walk down the aisle. Annoying passengers are prime targets.

Captains’ call

Author Gigi Wolf recalls that flight attendants in the now-defunct airline Pan Am would routinely doctor bullying pilots’ coffee with Visine eye drops, renowned for causing “terrible” diarrhoea.

“If I was a pilot, I’d bring my own thermos and a lunch box from home,” she writes.

529525_509527739082527_1836675676_nOr a captain might have his coffee laced with some of the liquid that flight service staff poured into empty ice buckets. This evil cocktail comprised left-over melted ice water, coffee and other dregs that attendants threw down the toilets – once the ice buckets were full – because the garbage containers leaked.

“The ice bucket had a little of everything in it,” she writes, “like minestrone soup. Getting some of this vile concoction in your coffee makes spitting in a customer’s plate at a restaurant seem innocuous.”

Contaminating drinks is a common theme. Ellen Simonette, author of Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant: The Queen of Sky Blog, writes about the time a colleague took revenge on an abusive business traveller by making him “a very special drink” in the galley, rubbing the rim of his glass on the plane’s filthy floor before serving it with a smile. “Looks like you’re finally getting what you deserved, sir,” she said.

Another ploy is to place a full bottle of water in the horizontal position with the lid off on the seat of a troublesome passenger when they get up to visit the bathroom. They usually don’t realise their trousers are wet until they’ve sat down again.

Digital dishonour

Bill Haymaker writes online that, years ago, he was evaluating service on a flight between Bahrain and London when a man lifted his thobe – an ankle-length robe – and exposed himself to a young stewardess, who was so distressed she wept.

563196_509281579107143_502392472_n“We moved down the aisle to where the lone passenger was. I made certain he was looking at us when I gesticulated to the man by pointing to him and then holding up my hand and lifting my ‘pinkie’ finger, wiggling it to signify the diminutive and homuncular nature of …er, um…something.

“My colleague then looked at the man . . . also holding up her hand and wiggling her pinkie finger, so as to acknowledge I was suggesting something involving the passenger was nanoscopic.”

The man appeared to be “stewing” afterwards, and was met by police when the plane landed at Heathrow.

Celebrities are not immune. A steward and fellow crew on a US airliner once took their revenge on actress Faye Dunaway.When Dunaway turned up at JFK airport with a coach ticket to London and her demands for an upgrade were refused she allegedly became enraged.

“She was . . . screaming at everyone and saying, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’,” the stewardess said. As a result Dunaway was seated at the front of the economy section on purpose so she could see that there were seats free in business and first class, making her even more furious.

Infamous meltdown

It’s hardly surprising some attendants blow up, therefore. One famous incident involved Steven Slater, a flight attendant of JetBlue airlines, who in 2010 had an argument with a passenger during boarding at Pittsburgh.

According to witnesses, he grabbed the intercom and said: “To the passenger who called me a ***, *** you . . . I’ve had it. That’s it.” He activated the emergency exit and slid down the inflatable slide onto the tarmac.

10686689_792174280817870_8784993606002945165_nHe then boarded a train to the terminal, stripping off his tie and discarding it, to the astonishment of onlookers. He was later arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.

Damned by faint praise

On other occasions crew take their frustrations out on their employers. One traveller was flying into Denver some years ago. While the plane was taxiing to the gate the attendant added the following to his normal flight patter: “We know you had the choice of flying on many bankrupt airlines today, but we thank you for choosing [ours], the number-one bankrupt airline in on-time arrivals.”

Airline staff do it tough, and not just in their punishing schedules. According to a Hong Kong-based Equal Opportunities Commission, some 27% of air hostesses said they’d been sexually harassed while on duty in flight over the past 12 months, while nearly half had witnessed or heard about it happening to a colleague.

So the next time you’re tempted to snap at one of these hardworking people, remember that their patience is not endless and there could be unforeseen consequences. You could end up on the PassengerShaming site on Facebook where some of the pictures of passengers are, well, shameful.

Or worse.