Garuda Indonesia - From Out Of The Shadows

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Just mention the name Garuda Indonesia a decade ago, and it would have made savvy and frequent travellers shudder. The reason? Although the national flag carrier has been flying since the 1940s, it has a torrid history which came to a head in 2007. The European Union introduced new safety standards, and as result, all Indonesian airlines, including Garuda Indonesia, were banned from landing in Europe. In July 2009, however, the "embargo" was finally lifted, and Garuda was no longer blacklisted; since then the airline had undergone a major transformation to the point of being unrecognisable today - which is great news for anyone travelling to Bali, Indonesia and beyond. 

Bali might still get a bad rap in some circles when it comes to travel, but the news surrounding the country’s airline is all good. In July 2017 Garuda Indonesia was awarded "The World's Best Cabin Crew" for the fourth consecutive year from Skytrax, an independent London-based flight rating agency, and named a five-star airline - joining one of only seven five-star airlines globally including Singapore Airlines. Garuda Indonesia has undoubtedly undergone a metamorphosis from its former incarnation, and made a huge effort to put its dubious reputation in the past. The real transformation began in 2010 after the European ban was lifted, when it launched a huge fleet and rejuvenation program. Then in 2016, Garuda Indonesia was named “Most Improved Airline” by, an independent plane safety and product rating website, for its improvements in service and safety. The world had taken notice of the national flag carrier’s efforts to improve. 

Today Garuda Indonesia operates a young fleet of around 130 aircraft with an average age of 3.5 years, including modern A330s which are famous for having quiet cabins, and are ideal for overnight flights. It also has a new and improved economy and business class, with one Australian reviewer claiming its business class as “by far the most comfortable airline servicing the Australian-Bali route”. What some travellers don’t know, however, is that Garuda Indonesia isn’t all about flying to Bali; in fact, it offers travellers an alternative way to get to Europe. Currently, there is a deal where passengers can fly to Amsterdam with a Bali stopover. From a competitive $1,298 per person, you get return flights to Amsterdam (via Singapore) from Sydney or Melbourne, with a generous 30 kilo baggage allowance, and a stopover to break up the journey in Bali. With the current offer you have to fly by July 30, which means you get to spend part of the summer in Amsterdam exploring. And what’s not to love about that? For more information on this unusual deal, visit our sister website





Joanna Hall