I’ll Take The Stairs

Last updated: October 1, 2015

A curious feature of the “Garuda Indonesia experience”.

Garuda Indonesia is a full-service airline. Skytrax recently gave Garuda Indonesia its highest rating: 5-star airline. It also won Skytrax’s 2015 award for world’s best cabin staff. It is also one of Indonesia’s most reliable and punctual airlines. Garuda Indonesia clearly cares about customer service.

So this begs the question:

Stairs to Garuda 777
Boarding GA884 from Jakarta to Tokyo, a Boeing 777

Why do Garuda’s international passengers at Jakarta Airport still have to take a bus, then walk up stairs to board the plane?

This is something you would expect to happen at the low-cost carrier Terminal 3, not on a full-service airline. Even first and business class passengers have to take a bus and the stairs too; they use one staircase, while economy class uses another.

It doesn’t provide a very positive or welcoming first impression (or last impression for passengers arriving in Jakarta). The author found it rather inconvenient to have to walk up a LOT of stairs when boarding an Airbus A330, especially in the evening while carrying a sleepy young child. The author wasn’t unlucky that day, either; last week, the author’s wife had to take the stairs and a bus in both directions.

Other international airlines (Garuda’s competitors) at Jakarta Airport have the same models of aircraft and use airbridges all the time, so it can’t be a problem with aircraft/airport compatibility.

It is also not possible that all the aerobridges are continually occupied. The boarding time of the flight pictured above was 23:00, not a particularly busy time of day.

Finally, it is highly unlikely that the airport management – a government-owned enterprise – would be in a dispute with or would decide to “sabotage” Indonesia’s national airline by making them park away from the terminal. Similarly, Garuda Indonesia might not be the most profitable airline in the region, but it is hard to believe they would choose this method of boarding passengers to e.g. save money on airport fees.

What happens for passengers with reduced mobility? It doesn’t rate a mention on the Garuda website’s section about passengers with special needs. The cynical would point out that in Indonesia – like in other developing countries – many places don’t have facilities for the disabled; also, walking up stairs is a common feature at smaller airports, especially for domestic flights.

Garuda Bombardier CRJ1000 Neo

However, there is a major difference in height between a Bombardier CRJ1000 NextGen (above) and the larger aircraft used in international flights. The author’s young child could ascend the Bombardier’s stairs without difficulty; not so for an Airbus A330 or Boeing 777.

Perhaps Garuda Indonesia needs to print in the booking conditions that international passengers at Jakarta Airport may need to walk up (many) stairs, like classic European hotels that don’t have lifts.

Even better, the Garuda Indonesia experience could include airbridges at Jakarta Airport whenever possible.



One Comment on “I’ll Take The Stairs”

  1. avatar Chris says:

    An associated tweet generated a response from Garuda:

    Clearly, Sasha didn’t read the post, which mentions how Garuda uses buses and stairs even at quiet times, like the middle of the night.

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