Traveling on a carrier who doesn't fly to the USA is always an anticipated experience for me, especially on one with a great reputation for premium service. This trip to Bali was conjured up by the desire to fly Delta's 747 before retirement. When originally booked I was on the last scheduled Delta 747 flight! But that's getting ahead of the story and Delta's report featuring their 747 replacement, the A350 is next. First was the flight to ICN on Garuda Indonesia.
Garuda Indonesia (GA) is a rather small airline with a fleet of 142 aircraft based on information from planespotter.net. Only 34 of the 142 are widebody aircraft, a mix of 24 A330's and 10 Boeing 777-300 jets. Within these 34 long haul aircraft they have 3 different types of seats in business class. Twenty A330's have the B/E Aerospace Diamond product in a 2x2x2 configuration. While nice there's no privacy on overnight flights. These aircraft are deployed on most routes to Asia as well as down to Australia. Next all but one of the Boeing 777's have the Airbus owned Stelia Solstys seat in a 1x2x1 all aisle access configuration. Some of these 777's have a first class cabin as well. Most of the triple sevens are on routes to Europe as well as China.
In the last couple of years GA has found a new favorite business class seat which happens to be my favorite as well, B/E Aerospace's Super Diamond seat. As of this writing 4 A330's and 1 B777 have this seat. For an overnight flight this seat is much preferred, especially over the 2x2x2 configuration on the A330s.
Garuda Indonesia A330 pictured below with registration number PK-GHD happened to have the Super Diamond seats installed. Booking this flight didn't happen by accident.
Garuda Indonesia has a rather long minimum connection time of 120 minutes at Incheon. When I originally booked this trip, the connection time between the direct Garuda ICN flight to catch Delta's flight was 1 hour and 40 minutes. GA arrived at 9:45AM with Delta departing at 11:25AM. (Seems odd GA/DL wouldn't have worked out a codeshare as SkyTeam partners.) So that flight combination didn't even show up as available on Delta's website because of an invalid minimum connection, even though I saw the direct flight had reward inventory. Instead this flight combination via Jakarta was available.
Initially this seemed even better as the first flight was one of their 777's so I'd get to sample the lot. Then I checked the seat map and the A330 was the old style. For an overnight flight that wasn't going to work.
So I called Delta and pleaded with a very nice Delta agent to override the computer and let me take the direct flight from DPS to ICN. (As a side note, after a years worth of schedule changes the actual connection time was 2 hours. arrival at 9:15 and departure at 11:15.)
It was a rainy night when I took the 5 mile trip trip from the Autograph Legian hotel to Ngurah Rai International Airport. A trip that took 62 minutes due to insufferable traffic partially caused by having to wait to pass numerous fender benders. But I still arrived very early.
As a Chicago native I've been to Soldier's Field many times. A few years ago they rebuild the stadium. Instead of bulldozing it and starting over, they left the outer shell, wanting to preserve the famous columns. So they build a new stadium inside.
While Soldier's Field looks even more ridiculous in person (my opinion), when I approached the airport entrance I kind of got the same impression.
And that is because the inside has no resemblance to the outside. But they didn't build a new airport, they slapped some kind of facade on to the front of the old airport.
I checked in at counter A1. No one told me about the special premium class check-in, ever though I asked.
It is in the back after the standard check in lines.
With a 1AM departure and having milked the hotel for the latest checkout possible along with the fact it was raining, there wasn't much to do except hang out at DPS. Security was brutally long. Not in numbers but in time per person. And not so much of scrutiny to personal belongs, more unorganized chaos of Indonesian TSA. It almost made me appreciate USA TSA. Almost.
After security you walk through the DPS duty free area. Shame on me for not taking a photo but then it's pretty shameless on them for forcing you to walk through the liquor stores and cosmetic counters. Hey, it's an airport. Then you're released into the food court and lounge area.
Not in the mood for lounge hoping I just wanted to hang out in GA's lounge.
The lounge is upstairs so if you have a bag you can use a small elevator that holds 2-3 people to take you up a one level.
The enterance looks promising.
First class is left and business class is right. There is a room with faux leather style recliners next to the food.
Then around a column is another area with passout style fabric chairs. The lounge is open to the food court below.
The lounge isn't very big and is shared with Skyteam partner Korean Air who happened to have two flights to Seoul this evening. Needless to say the lounge had people everywhere, even sitting on the floor.
While these photos aren't all inclusive, overall I wouldn't call the food and beverage items plentiful.
Initially when I arrived there wasn't any food to speak of. But after the lounge began to fill items were replenished.
Enough. Time to head to the gate which happened to be as far away as the eye can see.
The boarding area was huge. GA has the facilities for some A380s.
Boarding time came and passed. No announcement.
A few minutes before scheduled departure we were allowed to board.
Three lovely ladies were to attend the business class cabin. They were all fantastic.
Row 7 center seats showing with divider stowed. These seats are very private.
Proudly displaying their 5-star Skytrax rating.
At door 2 enterance is a self serve bar. I didn't go back to this area during the flight to know if it was setup.
The lavatories on the A330 were kept clean and stocked with moisturizers and dental products.
Seat "A". Honestly, I think the colors look better in photos than in person. The brown just seems a little drab. I felt the cabin to be a little dull.
However the accents do provide a nice pop.
One nice feature of the Super Diamond set is how much room you have to get into the pod.
A good view of the footwell in a center seat.
6A may be the winner here, too bad they block it from pre-assignment.
A major difference on these seats is how the footwell is designed. More and more designs, like the newer Cirrus seat on JL, the Thai seat on their A350 and even the highly vaunted Delta Suite don't allow for this, storage under the ottoman.
With this design you can extend the bed without the needs to move your smaller personal items or have them in the footwell along with your feet.
Garuda Indonesia went with the basic design. They certainly aren't like Qatar's version, or even Virgin Australia in terms of bells and whistles. But they didn't comprimise on comfort.
A plastic coat hook, then again coats aren't a priority next to the equator.
Some carriers have a water bottle holder inside this armrest compartment.
The tray is sizeable only it doesn't have the midrange level stop that some other versions I've seen have. You can fold it over without stowing it if you need to get out of your seat.
The side table consists of two compartments that open. One is for IFE controller if needed. The monitor is touchscreen.
As well as power, USB and audio jack.
An attractive amenity kit was waiting upon entrance.
Stocked with Clarins products and the usual combs, toothbrush, etc.
Time to go. While departure videos can be boring, this one is worthy due to the eery light show created by the rainy nighttime.
Once above the storm it was around 2AM. A perfect time for some sleep stimulants.
Menus were distributed.
A light snack menu called "IN BETWEEN FUEL" offered a quick bit before sleep.
I chose the Satay with bean cake along with umm, a cabernet.
The satay were wonderful. Tender and the sauces were flavorful. Although I won't say I'm a fan of the balinese sambal.
The savory tart was interesting as well, for one who's accustomed to sweet tarts.
It was time for some sleep. While no mattress pad, the generous blanket served dual duty. I slept comfortably for a few hours.
Somewhere over Manila I awoke to see what would become in 24 hours the first of Super Blue Blood Moon 2018.
The Inflight Entertainment system was easy to use.
Tripadvisor was built-in. I suspect more inflight systems will be adding this.
Precisely 22 hours to go.
Maybe they forgot to turn it on?
Soon the moon was replaced by the sun. Breakfast had been pre-ordered from the menu. I had ordered eggs and was told it came with all the side dishes. No complaints here.
I have no explanation.
I've been on some international flights where this is your full breakfast.
A nice variety, a danish, croissant as well as plain roll.
What a difference just a little creativity does to a serving of fruit.
I was asked how I wanted my eggs.
They were done perfectly.
I was blown away by this breakfast.
It was delicious.
All to soon we approached Seoul.
And I'm glad I don't have to leave the airport.
Delta A350 where are you?
Carrier: Garuda Indonesia
Date: December 2017
Route: Denpasar - Seoul Incheon
Flight #: 870
Aircraft: Boeing A330-300 #PK-GHD (Their most recent A330 delivery in August 2016)
Configuration: J24 / Y263
On Time: No
Reward Flying Rating: 7.5 out of 10 ✈
✔︎With only 23 seats in business class the cabin quiet for an overnight trip. Overall I didn't really care for the brown seat colors.
✔︎The B/E Super Diamond is a great seat, period! However I did notice a lot of scuffs and some damage which doesn't bode well after only a year in service.
Cabin/Seats Rating: 7.5 out of 10 ✈
✔︎ A nice amenity kit and plush blanket. Sure a mattress pad would have made it a 10, but I slept fine.
✔︎Both meals were beautifully presented with only the table cloth as a mystery.
✔︎The food was simply outstanding. Beverages were pretty average.
Amenity/Food rating: 7.5 out of 10 ✈
✔︎The monitor was crisp and very responsive. The content was good, although I didn't watch much.
✔︎ I never got a signal. Maybe they didn't turn it on.
IFE rating: 7.5 out of 10 ✈
✔︎The crew was outstanding. Polished, professional, what you might expect in first class.
Flight Attendant rating: 8 out of 10 ✈
✔︎A330-300 The aircraft was their newest, but the A330 is older technology. The only real complaint is that it's noisier than the newer planes.
Aircraft rating: 7 out of 10 ✈
Bonus photos Bali Indonesia
Luwak coffee plantation
Ubud rice terrace
The Stones Hotel Legian