Flight Test: Garuda business class

Route Amsterdam to Jakarta, via Dubai (en route to Sydney).

Aircraft Airbus 330-200.

Seat Business 3K.

Flight time 16hr 25min, including a one-hour transit in Dubai. From there I "connect" to a Jakarta-Sydney flight (6hr 45min) — the flight from Amsterdam arrives in Jakarta at 8.25am; the flight to Sydney departs at 11.45pm. The long layover doesn't have to be a negative: I booked a room at the nearby Sheraton Bandara Hotel (from $160, including airport transfers), where I had a swim and a few hours' sleep. Later, back at the airport, I while away another hour or so sampling cosmetics in the duty-free shops, having a massage (about $20) and dining in Garuda's executive lounge.

Seat width and pitch 180-degree lie-flat seat, 21in wide with a pitch of 74in.

Seat configuration 2-2-2 layout for 36 business-class seats in two cabins.

Comfort The cabin is clean, modern and spacious; the easy-to-operate seat feels roomy and comfortable, with a lumbar massage feature. I sleep well on the flat bed with soft blanket. L'Occitane products in the bathroom compensate for an unexciting amenities bag.

Luggage 40 kilograms of check-in luggage (30 kilograms in economy).

Entertainment An unimaginative selection of 37 English-language options leaves me struggling to find more than a couple of films I want to see on the 28-centimetre touchscreen. The classical music channel is disappointing, with only 13 choices and inadequate information in the guide.


Service The Indonesian flight attendants are charming, friendly and chatty, and make us feel welcome and special.

Food and beverages Maurice Leger champagne and juice are offered on boarding. With a choice of Indonesian or Western dishes for lunch, I'm rewarded by following the "when in Rome" principle. An appetiser of western Sumatra beef-cheek sate is followed by beef rendang, fish curry, stir-fried prawns with chilli and lemon sauce, caramelised crispy potato, sauteed string beans and gado-gado. I'm unfamiliar with the wines — two red and two white, all French — and I enjoy the 2009 Michel Leon Riesling.

Fare and frequency A low-season business-class return fare from Sydney to Amsterdam costs from $3891, including tax, which is outstanding value, provided you don't mind that long connection. There are four flights a week between Amsterdam and Jakarta via Dubai; daily flights between Sydney and Jakarta.

Bookings The website www.garuda-indonesia.com is unlikely to direct you to the cheapest business-class fares. Instead, try phoning 1300 365 330.

Tested by Harriet Upjohn.