Garuda Indonesia Review: Why it’s One of My Favourite Airlines

Garuda Airlines has had some well-documented trouble times.  It’s enough to make you question, should I fly with Garuda Indonesia?  But they have managed to pull themselves out of the doldrums.  So much so that it has become one of my favourite airlines.  Learn how it will become yours with my Garuda Indonesia review.

In this Article on a Garuda Indonesia Airline Review You Will Learn:

A review Garuda Indonesia Perth to Bali
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A Brief History of Garuda Indonesia

It was only 11 years ago that Garuda Indonesia was banned from flying into Europe.  At the time I worked at Perth Airport.  Often on a foggy night, the oldest aircraft in Garuda’s fleet would land in Perth International Airport without the passengers’ luggage.  If too much fog was forecast for Perth then the Garuda Indonesia aircraft needed enough fuel to divert to another airport.  As such, the aircraft was just not capable of carrying a full tank of fuel and the passengers’ bags.

However, the airline began in much more auspicious circumstances.  Garuda Indonesia was given its name in 1949 by President Soekarno who quoted a Dutch poem that referred to the Garuda bird flying over the Indonesia archipelago.  By 1950, the officially state-owned company had 38 aircraft.  The airline continued to grow and expand over the decades.  However, in the 1990’s and early 2000’s the airline was hit by financial and operational troubles.

Then in 2010, Garuda Indonesia completed a massive restructuring program.  Which included a huge cash injection for an entirely new fleet of aircraft and customer service staff training.

Today Garuda Indonesia has:

  • Joined the SkyTeam global alliance,
  • Is listed as one of IATA Safety Audit (IOSA) operators, and
  • Has won a swank of awards including:
    • “Most Improved,”
    • “Most Loved Airline,” and
    • “Third Best Cabin Service.”

Let’s find out what I learned during my Garuda Indonesia experience.

My Garuda Indonesia Review with Kids


I book our Garuda Indonesia tickets directly through the airline website.  The website is simple to use, input your home port, destination, the number of travellers (adults, children, infants) and dates you wish to travel.

The booking form on Garuda Indonesia
The Garuda Indonesia website booking form

Within moments our fare is quoted including taxes.  The only thing missing is a grid of fares that Garuda use to display showing all fare prices for that week.  This grid allowed you to easily see price comparisons for alternate flights throughout that week of travel.

So I manually go back and forth altering the days til I find the cheapest flight combination.  I complete the forms and immediately the tickets are emailed.


A few days prior to departure, I contact the airline by phone to confirm our seats (I don’t think you actually have to do this these days), add in a Garuda Indonesia child meal request and our contact details (hotel, mobile phone, and email).  The staff member also reminds me to be at the airport two hours prior to departure.


It is 5am, whilst the sun may not be up, the airport is alive as there are three flights departing for Bali in the space of half an hour.  At the Garuda Indonesia check-in counters, the queue at least 50 people deep.  But the mood is light-hearted and friendly as most are heading on holidays plus the orderly line is moving at a smooth pace.

Our check-in agent offers a smile and is friendly as she takes our passports and tickets.  With 30kg per passenger weight limit there is little stress about being sent off to repack bags or having to pay for overweight luggage.  Our bags are tagged and sent down the shoot.  We are given our boarding passes, the gate number, and time to board the flight.

The Garuda Indonesia Economy Review

Entering the aircraft, the flight attendant offers a cheerful welcome and points us down the appropriate aisle of the A330-200.

The garuda Indonesia ecomony class interior
The economy-class interior of Garuda Indonesia airline

Making our way to the rear of the aircraft, we have been allocated the centre three seats (the first row after it reduces from four centre seats).  This provides an aisle seat for both my husband and me with our son in the middle.  Spending a few moments gathering items out of our hand luggage bags for the flights we then store them in the overhead lockers – there is plenty of room.

Picking our complimentary pillow and blanket off the seat we sit down, strap ourselves in and comment, look how much legroom we have!  We can’t believe how much space this row offers.

We find our complimentary headphones in the seat pocket and set up our in-flight entertainment from the choice of over 58 movies and 50 TV programs.  Soon after take-off, we are offered a refresher towel, and juice and my son is given a toy.

Toys provided to kids on Garuda airlines
The kids pack

My son and the other kids are provided with their Garuda Indonesia child meals before the main service begins.

I’m being picky here.  As I don’t have a menu in my seat pocket I do have to prompt the flight attendant to advise me of the breakfast menu choices. I opt for the scrambled eggs with sausage, yoghurt and coffee.  The food is reasonable – it is airline food after all.  There is only so much they can do when your taste buds alter at 8000 feet and the food has to be reheated.

The Garuda Indonesia child meal
The child’s meal

I do like that our trays are not left in front of us for an excruciating amount of time (as has happened on other flights), and as our dirty trays are removed I am offered a second cup of coffee.  After that, I am left in peace to watch my movie for the remainder of the three-and-a-half-hour flight.


We arrive in Bali on time, feeling positive and relaxed.

This is the first time we have been to Bali without having to purchase an entry Visa.  In no time we pass one by one through customs and are at the conveyor belt waiting for our luggage – which all arrives 10 minutes later.  Then we are off to enjoy two weeks in Bali.

The Verdict

So that is why Garuda Indonesia has become one of my favourite airlines:

  • the aircraft is new and spacious,
  • the service is friendly,
  • a range of complimentary inclusive features and
  • the flights arrive and depart on time with our luggage.

To me, it is little wonder that Garuda Indonesia has won all of these awards and is now back flying into Europe.  If you are wondering if it is really worth paying a little bit extra to fly with a full-service carrier compare this with our review of Air Asia a low-cost carrier.

Top Trip Tips: Flying Garuda Indonesia with Kids

Making a Booking

You can book tickets directly on the Garuda Indonesia website.  Or use a flight comparison website such as CheapOair*.

To complete your booking you will need:

  • You will need your passports to make a booking.
  • Add any dietary requirements including kids meals at least 24 hours prior to flying.
  • Add mobile number and email address to receive notifications of flight changes.
  • You can find more hints on how to book a trip HERE
  • And don’t forget to buy travel insurance.  Here’s 6 reason why you need travel insurance.  We use Cover More*.

What to Pack

Garuda Indonesia is very generous with its luggage allowance.  You are allowed:

  • 30kg for economy class
  • 40kg for business class
  • PLUS 30kg for a bike or 23kg other sporting equipment
  • For the flight, you’ll also want to pack some hand luggage

So with all the weight allowance start creating your trip packing list or you may prefer the Beach and Island packing list.

You’ll also want a few additional items just for the kids.

What to Do in Bali and Indonesia

There’s more to Bali than just hanging out in the pool, we’ve discovered so many things to do in Bali.

We’ve enjoyed:

Check out these Bali and Indonesia travel guides* to discover a whole new world.

Garuda plane sitting at Perth International Airport
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  1. After that intro story, I wasn’t sure if Garuda was such a good idea, but your more recent flight sounds great. Heck, the last 2 flights I took in the USA didn’t even include a meal, so Garuda is definitely better on that point.

    1. Flying on supposedly full-service in the States drives me nuts. Well, actually Michele that all you get – nuts and a soft drink, I don’t know how they call that full-service.

  2. Wow, things have certainly changed for Garuda, and that’s wonderful! I had heard that they were banned from flying into Europe but didn’t know about they had sometimes flown without the passengers’ luggages! With the revamping of Indonesia tourism by their Tourism Board since last year, it’s a good thing that their national airlines has improved as well. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Yes Kat, it is fantastic to see how an airline can do a complete turn around in a few short years

  3. wow. you have to like all those kids amenities. it’s the icing on what sounds like a pretty good airline cake.

    1. To me Eileen, It’s those little extras that differentiate a good airline from an average airline.

  4. If the airline can serve the hot food hot and the cold food cold, then I am usually happy with it. I have to agree with you, I really appreciate having a day grid showing the different prices, maybe that will be an update on the website soon. Thanks for the inspiration; see you next week! #wkendtravelinspiration

    1. Jim, my biggest concern with food that not heated properly is the chances of getting food poisoning.

  5. I haven’t heard of Garuda Indonesia Airline, but then I don’t travel in that area. It seems like a good one, I wonder if they have any base in the USA.

    1. I’ve just checked the Garuda Indonesia website, Anda. They do fly into the west coast of America – LAX and SFO.

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