Saturday, November 10, 2012

No Clowns at 38,000 Feet

For my recent trip to Indonesia I travelled business class (Executive Class) on Garuda International Airlines. To and from Australia their Airbus 330s have power operated seats which convert to not-quite-flat beds. These are long enough to sleep comfortably on, but finished in a slightly slippery cloth, so found myself sliding down into the foot-well.

Noise reducing headphones are provided in a pocket of each seat. These work very well, but I did not find them on the trip from Sydney (they are hidden away low down in the seat arm) and so had no audio.

There are large LCD screens for each seat, which provide the display of documents from a USB memory stick, as well as the usual entertainment (including Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" performed by Mirusia). Most useful was a US/European mains power socket for each seat to run a laptop computer. There was also what appears to be an Ethernet data socket, but no explanation of how to use it.

With business class flights to and from Sydney airport (not just Garuda) you now get a separate security and immigration channel. This allows business class passengers to bypass the long queues at the hand-luggage screening (using the same queue as cabin crew) and then immigration and customs. On the inward leg the priority card you are handed say that you have to have nothing to declare at customs to use the priority queue. But I found there is a two stage process so you can use the card to get into the priority queue at immigration and then go to the normal red channel at customs.

At the Indonesian end the process is very personalised, with inward flights having immigration processing on-board. On the outward leg an airline staff member escorted me through the airport.

Garuda use the Qantas business lounge at Sydney airport, which is excellent, but there are not enough powerpoints. The Garuda lounge in Jakarta  was well equipped, most importantly with power points at each seat and good Wifi, but the light level is so low I found it difficult to read a newspaper.

No comments: