Not So Great: Garuda Indonesia ATR 72 Economy Class Review

I was flying from Bali to Labuan Bajo on my trip and wanted to experience Indonesia’s national carrier’s economy class: Garuda Indonesia. This quick one hour flight is operated by an ATR 72 at only 10,000 feet, making for views of beautiful volcanoes and islands. Needless to say, I was quite excited about this flight, until I arrived at the airport.

Garuda ATR 72
Garuda’s ATR 172 parked on the tarmac in Bali. Photo: Quinn Favret

Take One of My Journey

I arrived at the Denpasar airport around 9am for my 10:50am flight, giving me plenty of time to check-in and make it through security. I checked my reservation status on Garuda’s website the night before to ensure that nothing in my itinerary changed. However, as soon as I made my way to the front of the check-in line, I was bluntly informed my flight was canceled.

They told me I was rescheduled for the next day at 5pm. I thought the cancellation may have been due to the Indonesian forest fires, but, when I asked why this flight change occurred, I discovered that the flight was canceled a month ago due to operational reasons and I was rebooked.

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I never received an email or any type of notification alerting me of this, so I was absolutely taken aback, especially as the Garuda website confirmed my flight the night before. This was unacceptable, however, I found a hotel for the night and returned to the airport the next day.

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Garuda check-in counter
The Garuda check-in counter was easily accessible. Photo: Quinn Favret

Take-two of the journey

Restarting the process the next day, I finally made it past the airport check-in and through the easy to navigate domestic terminal. There were quite a few shopping sections and restaurants I had to walk through to make it to the gate, but I was greeted with a nice waiting area.

Ample shopping opportunities in the airport
I made it through the mazes of endless stores. Photo: Quinn Favret
Gate 3 waiting area
The waiting area was spacious and fairly empty. Photo: Quinn Favret

Boarding

The boarding process was expedited and swift, starting a half-hour before departure. There was no order to the boarding process, and anyone at any section of the plane could board at any time. As seat 22A, I was actually in the 4th row back from the cockpit. I scanned my boarding pass and continued down a flight of stairs to an awaiting shuttle bus.

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Garuda ATR 72 sitting on the tarmac
Garuda’s ATR 72 was sitting on the tarmac outside. Photo: Quinn Favret
Shuttle bus to ATR
We took a quick shuttle to the awaiting plane. Photo: Quinn Favret

As we disembarked the bus, we were quickly directed to stairs at the back of the plane. Boarding was inconvenient as I had to push past other passengers getting situated to reach my seat in the front.

Walking from the bus to the ATR
The walk to the plane allowed for beautiful pictures of the ATR. Photo: Quinn Favret
Cargo hold was at the front of the plane
The luggage was loaded onto the plane. Photo: Quinn Favret
Boarding through the back of the plane
Our cluster made its way onto the plane via a back door. Photo: Quinn Favret

Soon after everyone settled in and stuffed their bags into the limited overhead space, the attendants promptly sealed the boarding doors, and we were on our way – only 30 hours late.

Wing view, Lion Air, Garuda Air
I settled into my view of a Batik Air A320 parked beside us. Photo: Quinn Favret

The product

As we taxied, the crew played some oddly upbeat but mysterious background music. While it is hard to describe, you should imagine a modern rap beat mixed with the soundtrack of a mystery movie. This was definitely a strange start to the flight

I luckily got away with taking a few photo’s of the interior, despite, Garuda’s negative publicity around flight reviews lately. The product itself was a sleek looking leather seat, which was sufficient for the short flight, but nothing to rave about. It was very firm but clean.

modern seat, Garuda seat, leather
The seat was very pleasing to the eyes, but not so much to my back. Photo: Quinn Favret

There was also no IFE on board, but the views of Indonesia sufficed. There were a variety of magazines, although none were in English.

No IFE, variety of magazines, Garuda entertainment
The seatback contained magazines and the typical safety card in the seatback. Photo: Quinn Favret

The legroom itself was bearable for an hour. As a six-foot and one inch tall person, there was not nearly enough room for me to even stretch out my legs or shift my weight.

little leg room, cramped seat
My knees were right against the seat in front of me. Photo: Quinn Favret

Flight crew

The airline definitely prided themselves in their recent award from SkyTrax as the most loved airline. While their flight attendants were dressed nicely, I did not think their service embodied this award. The attendants were not very helpful or outgoing besides serving the inflight meals and completing safety checks. While this is not necessarily a negative, I do not think the service was anything out of the ordinary.

SkyTrax award, Garuda service
Garuda made a visible effort to display their 2016 award. Photo: Quinn Favret

20 minutes into the flight, we leveled off at 10,000 feet and were served a muffin, nuts, and water. This light snack tasted good and was just enough food.

Inflight snack, meals
The snacks tasted good. Photo: Quinn Favret

The flight

The views from the left side of the plane (out the windows on the north side) were gorgeous. However, I noticed that the view to the south had many more islands. I would recommend securing a window seat on the right-hand side of the plane if flying this route.

Takeoff, Bali
Taking off over Bali. Photo: Quinn Favret
Volcano, through clouds
A volcano was peaking through the clouds. Photo: Quinn Favret
Coral atolls, blue ocean
The coral atolls and different shades of blue made for a gorgeous descent. Photo: Quinn Favret
Labuan Bajo, Landing
Landing into dry Labuan Bajo. Photo: Quinn Favret

Landing

We landed right on time, coming down for a hard landing. After disembarking, we aimlessly walked across the tarmac to reach the main terminal.

Walk to terminal, landed in LBJ
After landing, we made our way to the terminal. Photo: Quinn Favret

Overall, I am hesitant to fly Garuda airlines again because my flight was canceled without any notification. The flight and product were average compared to other national carriers; the service was mediocre. Hopefully, in the future, they can improve their route reliability.

Parked ATR 72
The ATR 72 parked in LBJ. Photo: Quinn Favret
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jeff

Really?
Why would you review an Economy class ATR flight?
If it goes up, you have a seatbelt and it comes down in one piece that would be an excellent experience.

You were expecting maybe (?) lie flat seats and a hot meal?

Aruna

Thanks for the review
But I feel the same with the above comments. I not sure what you were expecting on such a short flight. I know it’s frustrating that they cancelled the flight ages ago. I wouldn’t expect much for a short flight.

Mark Watney

Correction:

Your photo caption incorrectly identifies the Batik Air jet as a 737. It is an A320.

In fact, if you do a search of it’s registration (PK-LAR) you will discover it is an A320-214, first flown 07/09/2015, etc.

Raden

Garuda Indonesia for nearly a year had been rough especially since I Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra aka Ari Askhara was appointed as a CEO of the airline, many controversy was caused by him, including the restriction of picturing in aircraft following a bad review by Rius Vernandes. And even now the airline is trying to survive the damage caused by Ari Askhara himself, despite the fact that he was fired by the ministry of national corporation over some illegal 1970s Harley-Davidson motorcycle and some Brompton bike smuggled on the A339 delivery flight. Honestly I’m surprised for the fact that the… Read more »

Anonymous

I flew to Lombok from Kuala Lumpur via Jakarta with Garuda. I received a bid to upgrade for my return flight. 48 hours before the flight, i received email saying that my bid was successful and my card was charged.

Expresso

Okay, that reschedule without notice is annoying and disappointing. However, I’m curious with this: “The flight and product were average compared to other national carriers; the service was mediocre” I mean, what do you expect from an hour flight with an ATR? And what makes it beyond average when you fly an hour on an ATR?

Ivan

Why were they awarded 5 stars airlines again?

They are not as good as Singapore Airlines or ANA. Too much corruptions going on here.

Ian

I think it is strange that some of the previous comments express surprise that a review was done of an hour long internal domestic flight. Airline reviews don’t have to be all about long-haul international flights in large aircraft. As for the results, people would find them interesting. In many internal Australian flights using regional aircraft (Dash 8 / ATR) of similar duration there is often complimentary beer / wine served and generally there is always complimentary soft drinks and tea / coffee as well. Depending on the time of travel the type of snacks offered are many and varied.… Read more »