Flight test: Garuda Indonesia business class

THE ROUTE

Denpasar to Sydney

THE PLANE

Airbus A330-200. This aircraft services the Melbourne and Sydney-Denpasar route as well as Melbourne to Jakarta.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

GarudaMiles, a member of global airline alliance SkyTeam. Passengers can earn frequent flyer points with airlines including Alitalia, Delta Airlines and China Southern.

CLASS

Business class, seat 11A. The plane has a two-section business class cabin with 18 seats, and 238 in economy. I'm seated by a window (which is great for night-time flights) to the rear of the cabin, but cabin staff ask if I'd like to move further up front when a baby starts crying before take-off.

DURATION

Just under six hours.

FREQUENCY

Flights are daily departing Denpasar at 10.30pm and arriving at 7.25am, however we land almost 20 minutes early.

THE SEAT

Flat-bed seats are in a 2-2-2 layout and the cabin feels spacious, especially as it's not fully booked. The seats are 53cm wide and have a wide 74-inch (104cm) pitch. The seats feel like cosy capsules and come with a privacy screen, dimmable reading light and plenty of storage. The in-seat lumbar massage is wonderful. Good size pillows and velvet and cotton blankets feel luxurious.

BAGGAGE

Checked luggage allowance in business is a generous 40 kilograms plus one carry-on bag up to seven kilograms and a laptop or handbag. There is also a complimentary sporting allowance of up to 23 kilograms for any sports gear including surfboards, golf clubs and bikes.

COMFORT

Garuda Indonesia was recently named a five-star airline by SkyTrax – joining one of only seven five-star airlines globally including Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways. It operates a fleet of about 130 aircraft, with an average age of 3.5 years. The airline has come ahead in leaps and bounds since 2010 when it launched a massive fleet and rejuvenation program, doubling its aircraft and its route network. Modern A330s are known for their quiet cabins and business class is just that; exactly what's needed for a night-time flight.

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ENTERTAINMENT

The in-flight entertainment system is a touch sensitive wide-screen. The movie choice is good, with enough new releases to keep you interested while there's also a wide selection of TV shows, games and audio tracks and a small kids entertainment section. Passengers are issued with noise cancelling headphones. If you want BYO movies, you can plug in a USB stick and there is a universal AC power point for laptop charging. Garuda Indonesia offers Wi-Fi across all classes (starting from $US2.50 for 3MB; complimentary to first class passengers). The inflight magazine Colours has interesting articles in English and Indonesian.

SERVICE

Garuda Indonesia offers a separate check-in area for business class at Denpasar Airport. Check-in is smooth and there's virtually no wait. Onboard friendly and immaculately attired cabin crew offer drinks (Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose), newspapers and hand out L'Occitane amenity kits. Bottles of water are supplied and there is always a crew member on hand if needed. A renewed service concept introduced last year sees an inflight chef, choice of three menus (Indonesian, European and Japanese) and new amenities kits in business and first. In 2014 Garuda won World's Best Cabin Crew in the SkyTrax World Airline Awards – a deserved win.

FOOD

As it's late, a limited meal service is offered but I'm ravenous and the cabin crew orders me something from the snack menu. I opt for Indonesian nasi goreng with fried marinated chicken: delicious if a little on the small side. Also on offer is sate beef and chicken sticks, Japanese hot udon noodle soup with prawn tempura, fresh fruit and nachos, chili and cheese. A cabin crew member comes to take my order for breakfast, but as it's a short overnight flight I choose not to be woken. A cellar menu offers a compact selection of well thought-out wines mostly from France.

THE VERDICT

Garuda Indonesia has undergone a metamorphosis from its former incarnation and worked hard to shake off its previous reputation, which let's face it, wasn't the greatest. Today it resembles little of the airline I first flew 15 years prior on a cheap ticket to Bali, offering a fleet of young planes and new and improved business and economy class. It's worth paying the extra for a business class seat, especially on the overnight leg and it's by far the most comfortable airline servicing the Australian-Bali route.

Tested by Sheriden Rhodes, who flew courtesy of Garuda Indonesia.

See also: Airline with the largest economy seats to Bali
See also: The 10 best ways to get a cheap flight

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