Lounge (SkyTeam Lounge in Sydney): 4/5
Food and beverages: 4/5
- Excellent service from the cabin crew
- Accommodating to the needs of our baby
- No nursery in the SkyTeam lounge
- The 2-2-2 seat configuration with no direct access to the aisle for some passengers
- Chaotic boarding process in the Sydney Airport (may be Sydney Airport’s fault)
This time I flew with my wife and Josie, our 8-month old daughter. It was indeed challenging to fly with an infant due to the sheer amount of baby stuff that we had to carry. Our journey began in the Sydney International Airport. The departure area in the international terminal was very crowded I must say.
The check-in, security and passport control processes were surprisingly smooth despite the apparent high number of people when we entered the terminal. From there, we immediately went to the SkyTeam lounge, which even though was quite busy, we could easily find a spot for the three of us and our carry on.
I have been to this lounge many times, so I am familiar with what they normally offer. The lounge had a wonderful view of the tarmac; this time I could feast on a massive China Southern A380 parked right in front of the large floor-to-ceiling window. Breakfast dishes were served in the buffet area, while a good range of drinks were on display in the bar corner. The speed of the Wi-Fi was reasonably quick. Shower rooms were of course available. However, I was disappointed to find out that there was no nursery in the lounge. Shocking for a major alliance lounge. At least the lounge staff should be able to direct passengers to the nearest nursery when the need arises.
The boarding process was the worst experience in this trip. It was borderline chaotic. The plane was parked in remote parking, meaning passengers had to be transported with buses to board the plane. There was one gate for I don’t know how many flights. One airport staff, who looked stressed, guarded the entrance to the gate and so many people were crowding the area. When she called three flights at the same time, many passengers rushed through her to another long queue before going in the buses. There was a lane for Sky Priority passengers and the queue was not bad here, but based on my observation, the gate agents did not care who was queuing in this lane. This was rather annoying when travelling with an infant, while carrying bags of baby stuff. Somehow we managed to take this happy photo inside the bus despite the ordeal.
After climbing a flight of stairs to enter the aircraft, finally we managed to settle on our seats. In each row, the seats are set in a 2-2-2 configuration. As such, those seating in window seats do not have direct access to the aisle. This configuration has become outdated nowadays. The seat was a lie flat seat, but not a fully flat seat, although the angle was small so passengers should still be able to sleep quite comfortably.
The food and drink menus, the amenity kit bag, sandals, and a bottle of water were already placed neatly around the seat. Soon a welcome drink (I chose champagne as usual) and a small warm towel were distributed. I definitely needed the champagne after the boarding experience. Right before take-off, a flight attendant came to our seats and took our lunch orders. The following are the dishes available in this flight (my selection is in asterisk).
Lunch Service Menu
- Grilled prawns with tofu caponata*
- Marinated lamb loin
- Indonesian beef ribs soup (soto Betawi)
- Green peas soup
- Braised chicken leg with curry sauce, steamed rice and pickled cucumber
- Grilled beef tenderloin with thyme sauce, fondant potato, ratatouille and broccolini*
- Pan seared barramundi, mushroom ragout, kipffler potatoes with chive butter
- Roasted vegetable tart with grilled asparagus spears and onion jam
- Balinese chocolate torte*
- Toffee and banana pudding
- Chef’s cheese board
In Between Fuel
- Satay selection*
- Beef pastrami and cheese sandwich
- Roasted vegetable tart
- Fresh fruit
- Tortilla chips, cheese and tomato salsa
Café Service (available anytime during the flight)
- Noodle soup*
- Chocolate bar
- Wafer bars
The green and grey amenity kit bag was not branded. The contents included were an eye mask, ear plugs, a tooth brush, tooth paste, Clarins products, including a lip balm, body lotion, and moisturiser, and a comb. They were pretty standard, although I miss the au de cologne provided in the past. I must also add that 15 minutes free Wi-Fi was provided. I am not sure whether it was free for all passengers or only for business class passengers.
There was an empty seat next to us, so after take-off, I asked a flight attendant (probably the purser) whether it was ok for Josie, our daughter, to sleep on my seat, while I moved to the empty seat. He said yes. Another flight attendant brought extra pillows to be placed around her. As you can see, she was fast asleep comfortably.
Lunch was served at about 13:30, which was a bit too late in my opinion. It started with a mushroom canape and a glass of champagne. Again the champagne was indeed enjoyable.
The starter, grilled prawns with tofu caponata, was well presented. The touch of chili was perfect to stimulate my appetite. I ordered a glass of red wine with my lunch, but I think the flight attendant forgot about it. I actually forgot as well at first, but then I ordered the wine again with the main course. I also noticed that the flight attendant made mistakes when placing the fork and the knife, although she corrected the mistakes very quickly.
My main course was grilled beef tenderloin with thyme sauce, fondant potato, ratatouille and broccolini. Again it looked beautiful on the plate. The beef, in my opinion, was overcooked, so it was a bit tough.
Finally, my Balinese chocolate torte dessert was served. It was delicious; you can’t go wrong with chocolate. Overall, it was a good lunch experience. I felt that the portion was a bit on the smaller side though.
Josie woke up during the lunch service. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that baby food was provided for her, even though we did not order any. As you can see in the photo, she was enjoying the food. Actually another portion of baby good was given to us for take away before we landed. Thank you, Garuda Indonesia, for your consideration.
I spent the remaining of the flight time watching a movie (Crazy Rich Asians, which was quite entertaining), taking care of Josie, and conversing with my friendly neighbour.
I also ordered a plate of satay and a bowl of noodle soup before we landed in Jakarta. The satay was delicious and, unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo. The noodle soup was welcomed as well. Usually I always order this noodle soup whenever I fly with Garuda Indonesia.
Overall, it was a pleasant flying experience, despite the hassles in the Sydney Airport, which were out of Garuda’s hand. The cabin with its 2-2-2 seat configuration is becoming outdated. However, this was compensated by the excellent services delivered by the cabin crew. They were indeed worthy of their world’s best award (according to Skytrax).