Aviation, My Life, Travel

Carrier: Garuda Indonesia
Flight No. : GA 088
Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-200
Registration: PK – GPN
Load Factor: 85%
Cruising Altitude: 40,000 feet
STD: 1935 hrs (UTC+7)
STA: 0720 hrs (UTC+1)

Hello all my faithful readers. Before we get started let me say Merry belated Christmas to all of you who celebrate it. I just returned from my 10 days trip to Europe with a mission to celebrate Christmas eve mass in the St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican.

This trip was special because I had had another chance to travel again with my family, although my brother could not *again* join this trip due to his unavailability for flight simulator training. My dad thankfully was on leave hence he could make the trip.

We departed on 19 December 2012 evening. As usual we’re dropped off at Terminal 2 E and we arrived 15 minutes before boarding. I thought it was pretty rushing out there, but the check-in counter load was light and the line was okay for us.

After receiving the boarding pass, we headed directly to the immigration line. This one was a troublesome. We were stuck in the immigration line for nearly 30 hours when our flight was notified as the final call. We were a bit nervous, my dad attempted to pass through the crew line, knowing that we were so rushing for the flight, but minutes after he asked the immigration officer to open the line for us, it was too late since a group of crew member from Turkish Airlines had arrived and waiting behind us.

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Soekarno – Hatta International Airport, as the biggest airport in Indonesia and the international gateway should have add more immigration desks!

It took another 15 minutes for us to finally clear the line, another thank god was knowing the plane was parked at gate E1, close enough. And we were a few last passengers to board the plane.

Boarding process was smooth well as likely it always smooth for a wide body aircraft. We were greeted by a friendly flight attendant, and the purser whom I flew with from Beijing to Jakarta 2 years ago. My dad and mom were sitting at seat number 5 middle row and I sat at the next row 5 C. However, it was a surprise to meet one of a good friend of mine and a child of my mom’s friend who was also a member at Indoflyer. Reyhan sat at seat number 6 A. A pleasant surprise yes, and I made a bit dramatic Hello to him, and I jumped to the next seat after him as it was empty.

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Boarding process was not complete yet, the few last business class passengers who boarded the plane including my Dad’s relatives and his family who were flying to Amsterdam too, and another guy next to me in row 6 middle was a junior pilot who was on vacation alone too. So ya, it was like another reunion flight and we were so excited.

As you all know this flight to Amsterdam will not stop over in Dubai but in Abu Dhabi. The flight time for the first leg will be 7 hour 50 minutes. The captain had informed us that we’re facing the head winds and strong turbulence was frequently expected.

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“Cabin crew set doors to automatic and cross check”. The door has been closed and the plane was ready to push back. The flight load that evening was not full there were some seats left in C class and Y class – as I heard there were only 100 passengers in the Y class. Anyway, the welcome drink was offered to us. Martebe, orange juice, apple juice. Champagne and wines were available only you had to order and they will bring them to you. In addition, the cabin crew also wandered around the cabin asking passengers about the meal they’re about to eat later. My choice was simple, without reading through the menu I said, “I’ll just have rijstafel”. The cabin crew smiled at me as if saying “Wow you’re quick”.

I chose the sparkling champagne for the start, as I was really excited upon my upcoming trip, and I had a chat mate all the way to Amsterdam. We pushed back on-time at 1935 hrs and we took off around 20 minutes after. The take off was smooth, and the plane directly turned left as we’re flying across west coast Java and banked right across the south west coast of Sumatera then headed to South East India, and direct to Abu Dhabi. What captain said was proven when the plane was hitting thick cloud and we felt like in a roller coaster during the climb, but once the plane reached the safe altitude it was calm, and long dinner was served!

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We anticipated, well, I did anticipate dinner to be served as soon as possible. I always hated it when I forgot to eat before flight because somehow my gastric worked faster up in the air. When the trolley appeared I felt quiet relieve. I set my table alone, and welcomed the presence of a middle aged lady who still looks young and professional – I think she was at the same batch as my aunt. The stewardess started conversation with us, she’s chatty, regardless the fact if the conversation was made due to there was a pilot next to me or she knew that my friend, I and all of us at the back are passengers with code – but I simply notice that she’s a friendly lady.

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As starter, we had a soto bandung. I laughed when I received it because this meal was just exactly what I had before at home as lunch. She replied “Oh maybe the catering truck came to your home first before loading them to this aircraft,” we laughed to hear her saying that. The pilot next to me ordered a red wine, it turned out one of the red wine available was the one at his home too. “Oh okay, that’s another coincidence, maybe the catering truck went to your home first and then to his and came to the airport.” What a friendly convo.

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The rijstafel meals were absolutely tempting! I can’t imagine what if I had left my home country or hometown for million years and I came back to find these foods. The steam rice and the full selection of tasty sidedish that we usually make at home are too good to be true.

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After dinner time finished, the cabin crew began dimming the lights for passengers who wished a pleasant sleep. I was still in the middle of conversation with my seat next row, chatting for 2 hours or so and finally tried to sleep. The weather seemed to be more extreme when we flew above India. The captain ordered flight attendant to take their seats as they were climbing 2,000 feet more to avoid thunderstorm clouds. The turbulence were very strong and I could feel as if I were in a roller coaster ride, only I was on a 180 degrees full flat bed.

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The cabin lights turned on again 30 minutes prior arrival. The map showed that we are getting closer to Abu Dhabi International Airport. The aircraft had started their descent as well. I could notice that we’re entering the city as city lights began to appear.

The plane touched down on time at 0105 hrs LT (UTC+4). The landing was smooth, and the plane headed directly to the gate. “Bapak dan Ibu yang terhormat Selamat datang di Abu Dhabi silakhan tetap duduk sampai lampu tanda kenakan sabuk pengaman di padamkan dan pesawat berhenti dengan sempurna…” the flight announcement also informed that there would be a new set of crew member that would serve us to Amsterdam, and the plane would transit in Abu Dhabi for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Before disembarking we said good bye to all crew members, saying thank you. When we reached the gate, we saw the new crew members had been waiting, my dad physically waved hands to greet them while I was just walking in a chill mode and we headed downstairs for some window shopping.

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Abu Dhabi airport is somehow not a place for you to shop. The airport is too small and there was nothing much to see about. The price even is not that cheap as has been dubbed so long.

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After transiting for nearly 2 hours, we boarded the plane again. Strict security apparently troubled me for some reason at the gate, and I was nearly lost my camera. We boarded back with a new crew member that mostly I hadn’t seen before. Most of the cabin crew that served us in the Business Class cabin were mostly a bit older and professional, however, we were lucky that some of the ‘newbie’ joined the serving session that evening. Since the flight departed at 1 o’clock am in the evening, means there was no heavy meal distribution, only light snack and cakes. I was terribly craving for Pop mie, and Garuda has been very understanding to meet the savory standard for Indonesian passengers, which is: Pop Mie.

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As a person who don’t rely on in-flight entertainment so much, I literally only slept for roughly 4 hours during the total journey, even on our flight to Amsterdam I didn’t sleep much. But only spent time playing with my Galaxy Note and I spent some times watching my favorite show – “Just for Laughs”. Actually Just for Laughs is quiet entertaining when you were in need of laughs.

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Two and half hours prior landing we were awakened by purser announcement for breakfast service. One of the cabin crew told me that they had to forward the time due to weather forecast in the European airspace which might be a bit bumpy and they’re worried that serving time could not be made due to turbulence. Everyone was soon waking up and the cabin crew began to offer several options for continental breakfast. Bread, fruit, omelette, corn flakes or yoghurt. I chose corn flakes, milk and bread.

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Just after breakfast service, I was surprised by a special presence of little Santa who was standing hiding behind the curtain next to my seat. I believed he was a mixed dutch child and hiding from his mom who sat next at the back.

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At around 0650 hrs we began our descent. There was nothing to look at outside the window since the sun wasn’t up yet. The sunshine started to appear far in the east just like flames combined with the city lights beneath us.

0720 hrs the plane touched down smoothly at Schipol international airport, and it was a long taxi since the plane was parked at gate G8.

When disembarking we thanked to the cabin crew for a great flight and wished them a pleasant stay in Amsterdam, so did they to us.

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To conclude my trip report, I think this is was my first long haul flight more than 8 hours with Garuda after several years. The idea of making the middle east as a transit point is good knowing that passengers might need sometime to rest their back and feet every 5 hours minimum. In regards to service, I never had problem with any service related matter as the airline has a good value of service for its customers. Starting from the hospitality, the warmth, the smile and the attention they give to the passengers, the cabin crew are one of the friendliest and the sincerest cabin crew I have ever met. I had a very enjoyable flight, good meals, good sleep, and good conversation. It complete my happiness on my last trip. Thank you Garuda Indonesia! We are proud!

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Flight Experience: GA 088 Jakarta – Abu Dhabi – Amsterdam

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