One of my favourite perks being a higher status member of any frequent flyer is to be able to gain access to lounges when travelling on Economy class. I was able to achieve SkyTeam Elite Plus status from Air France’s Flying Blue program and that granted me entry to lounges even when travelling on an Economy class ticket, provided it is an International itinerary. That meant on my last flight to Singapore, I flew with Garuda Indonesia to take advantage of the lounge entry, since Air France no longer flies between Jakarta and Singapore.
Garuda Indonesia’s Executive Lounge in Terminal 2 is conveniently located near the central immigration desks at the ‘E’ concourse. There is the BRI lounge just beside it and a couple of duty free shops on the other end. This lounge might be obsolete by the end of the year as Garuda Indonesia and its SkyTeam partners prepare to move to the new Terminal 3.
To enter the lounge, I handed over to the receptionist my boarding pass and frequent flyer card. As a SkyTeam Elite Plus member I was able to bring in one guest into the lounge as well and I was able to bring my sister in. A small slip of paper with the lounge wifi and password was handed to me, allowing me to access the decent wifi speed inside the lounge.
Just by the entrance foyer, there is a small roped-off section for First Class consisting of a couple of seats. It was still a small space and probably not adequate to compete in the big leagues of dedicated First Class lounges. The rest of the lounge is accessible to all Business class and SkyTeam Elite Plus members.
Turning left, the buffet and dining section occupies a decent space with toilets for lounge guests. There is also a bar counter here though because I visited the lounge during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan, there are no alcohols prominently served. However, guests does still have access to canned beers since I note some guests drinking them inside the lounge.
The buffet selection in the lounge was not bad considering there was Indonesian and Western food selection. The hot buffet includes a spaghetti option, beef roulade, buttered rice and mixed vegetables.
There is also a pot of Chinese-style chicken corn soup and steamed dumplings.
Small bites includes mini slider sandwiches and cakes for desserts. There is a salad bar that was covered to make it hygienic and I suppose to keep the vegetables fresh in the tropical weather.
A particular snack I enjoyed was the Indonesian rice crackers called Rengginang which is found from canisters by the bar counter. These sweet and savoury snacks are great enjoyed with guava juice served in the lounge.
There are assorted fruits and small cocktail glasses filled with mixed fruits in syrup at the end of the buffet section.
For hot beverages, guests could brew their own tea or make their own cappuccino using the espresso machine in the buffet counter.
Beside the buffet section, there are a couple of tall bar tables with stools for guests to dine in but the few tables there were occupied. Thus after getting some soup, I head to the back section which is also the main lounge which has partial views of the tarmac. Inside the main lounge, there is a small magazine rack filled with mainly local newspapers and magazines.
The main lounge is decorated with bright colours similar to the airlines’ cabin with the airline’s blue standing out in the comfortable lounge chairs. The full length windows in the lounge have curtains to block off the sunlight since Garuda installs some comfortable loungers facing the window.
For some reason, the lounge felt very cramped since there was so many seats over a small space. As it was a peak holiday season, the lounge was packed with people too, and when you add in the staff walking around attending to guests, it can get crowded. One thing for sure is that do not really expect much privacy here.
Another dining space I discovered in the lounge is a noodle station at the end of the lounge which is separated from the other dining section. While guests could order fish ball noodles with a variety of condiments to their liking, there was no dedicated staff on the counter. To get your order, you need to find the staff first so that was an extra bit of hassle.
Other amenities inside the lounge includes a foot massage area where there are 3 chairs equipped with roller machines. Apparently these machines are sterilized by the staff after each use.
On the right side by the foyer, there are a couple of iMacs along with a printer for guests to print their itinerary or documents. The provision of amenities was adequate for this lounge and the food variety was of an acceptable quality. However this lounge is let down by the small size and while Garuda made full use of all the space, they definitely need a larger lounge. From the viewpoint that Garuda Indonesia is due to move its international operations to Terminal 3, it is perhaps understandable and I look forward to trying out the new International lounge in the new terminal.