Garuda Indonesia will formally join Skyteam this week on the March 5th 2014, meaning that members of the other 19 SkyTeam frequent flyer schemes will be able to start to earn burn their miles on Garuda Indonesia flights. For Garuda Frequent Flyer members it’ll open up a whole new world of uses!
Garuda joins Vietnam Airlines as the second Skyteam member in region and has already linked up to the various SkyTeam hubs around world: Seoul, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei and Amsterdam and will start to fly to London in 2014 (Gatwick).
The other members of SkyTeam are: Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeroméxico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.
I’ve personally flown Garuda on short-haul and have to say their short-haul product was fantastic, brand new aircraft and friendly crew (the average age of their fleet will be under 5 years by 2015). The airline does suffer from a poor primary hub – Jakarta, and has another 3 hubs at Bali, Medan and Makassar. Garuda gives SkyTeam frequent flyers fantastic access to Indonesia as whole including destinations such as Yogokarta, Bali and Lombok.
You can find out more about Garuda Indonesia here.
Garuda has a great domestic network and a decent regional network, but its international routes are mostly served through codeshares with other airlines.
In terms of the hard product Garuda has a pretty good economy class featuring full service even on the short regional flights as well as a good Executive class. First class in only available on a few routes, but will be on the Sydney-Jakarta-London route in May this year.
Garuda joining Skyteam will open up a lot of new Indonesian destinations for Skyteam frequent flyers, but not that many considering the major holiday destinations (e.g. Bali) are already covered by the likes of KLM and Air France. For the business flyer this will be great if you are a regular flyer to Jakarta as availability and competitively priced flights will now be more open to you. The major benefactors here wil be the members of the Garuda Frequent Flyer scheme, now being able to redeem wit other Skyteam members – particularly long-haul where Garuda doesn’t have such a presence.