With Garuda Indonesia moving its domestic operations into the new Terminal 3, there was the opportunity to try the brand new lounge. Apparently Garuda Indonesia has followed airlines like China Southern and Singapore Airlines in having separate lounges for their elite frequent flyers and Business Class passengers. In this instance, the Domestic Lounge is divided into 2 areas with separate reception counters. One side of the lounge offers entry to SkyTeam Elite Plus and GarudaMiles Platinum along with Business Class passengers which I will refer to as the Business Class lounge. While the other offers entry to all of the above along with GarudaMiles Gold members, and the lounge that I refer to as the GarudaMiles Gold lounge.
GarudaMiles Gold Lounge
Entrance to the GarudaMiles Gold lounge is by the side with its own set of stairs and escalators, though the moving escalator only goes down. Wood accents grace the reception desk of this lounge and I was let in after showing my SkyTeam Elite Plus card and boarding pass. Inside, the warm tone of the decor continues and there are several orchid plants set inside the lounge with contemporary art decorations in the walls.
The lounge primarily has sets of 3-4 armchairs around a small round table. And along the ledge overlooking the departure gates, it has rows of 2 armchairs and a small side table. Both armchairs are on the small side so those with large waistlines might find it a bit of a squeeze. Otherwise they look fresh and provides a comfortable environment for an hour or so.
This lounge occupies a long narrow space and the buffet counter is located nearer the end of the lounge. For a frequent flyer Gold member lounge, the food selection is not bad at all. There are a couple of hot dishes like fried noodles and stir-fried vegetables in bright casseroles with Indonesian crackers on the sides. Indeed, Indonesian eat nearly every main course with a diverse range of crackers.
Aside from the main courses, there are snacks like fried wontons for the quick fill-up. For desserts, there are some small kueh or Indonesian cakes along with sliced fruits.
Beverage options was more modest as it is restricted to juices and water from the dispenser or assorted canned soft drinks. I did not notice alcohol beverages offered in this lounge, though there was an espresso machine and tea bags provided on the buffet counter.
Alongside the buffet area, there was numerous dining tables with chairs. This space provided guests with laptops spots to work from. Furthermore the bright open ceiling of the dining area made it comfortable since the mezzanine location of the lounge meant low ceilings in the lounge area.
For a GarudaMiles Gold lounge, this space was very good and had respectable food and beverage options for guests. Considering I do not go out of my way to arrive early for domestic flights, I found the lounge to be more than enough for a short stay since the terminal has free wifi though guests could also log into the wifi for lounge guests with a password. Wifi connection was decent and logging in was quite straightforward so there was no reason to complain with this decent space provided by Garuda Indonesia.
Business Class and GarudaMiles Platinum lounge
To enter the other side of the lounge, there was a separate reception desk closer to the escalator that leads down from the security screening area. Passengers need to follow the signs to the Garuda Indonesia lounge after the security checkpoint. Though guests could also enter this lounge by heading left from the Gold lounge reception. GarudaMiles or SkyTeam Elite Plus members gain access to this lounge and since Air France Gold members are part of SkyTeam Elite Plus, I was able to enter this lounge as well.
On entry, this lounge was much larger than the Gold lounge beside it with plenty of regular lounge seating near the entrance. However most of this lounge is under the low ceiling and does not open out to the tall ceiling of the terminal, meaning it can be more dim compared to the dining space of the Gold lounge.
Like the Gold lounge, there was plenty of seats arranged around a small round table that I consider as hybrid lounge seats as they are perfect for snacking and reading while in the lounge. However, there was a lack of proper dining tables and chairs like in the Gold lounge. There are certainly some dining chairs around but they were lacking.
The food and beverage provided here was very good though and worth a mention. In addition to the usual rice and hot stir-fry dishes, there was 3 special dishes section in the buffet area.
First off was a made-to-order noodle bar, the same one that I had seen in their International lounge over in Terminal 2. A bowl of hot noodles seems to do the trick nicely in most Asian airport lounges and has become the basic premium food amenity.
Another section was a Soto Ayam counter which is an Indonesian soup with turmeric usually filled with chicken (ayam) as the main protein. All the necessary condiments are provided on the side for guests to make their own.
Last but not least, there was a Ketoprak area, where guests could make their own Betawi-style salad with peanut sauce. There was rice vermicelli, tofu, cucumber, rice cakes and bean sprouts as the condiments.
For lighter snacking options there was plenty of fried spring rolls and assorted kueh or pastries common in Indonesian markets. I got a few of these since I was still full from lunch but on my future flights near meal times, I might just go for a plate of Ketoprak.
There was also sliced fruits on the buffet table as desserts. Though in this lounge, the cut fruits were not placed under the cover of a refrigerated cabinet like in the Gold lounge.
Beverage options in this lounge was more or less similar with the usual espresso machine, tea, juices and water from the dispenser. Soft drinks are from the fridge and because I did not drink, I never took note if there was any beers. The lounge did, however, have a small bar table and maybe beers are available on request. Do note that Indonesia being a Muslim-majority country has high taxes on liquor and that might indicate the lack of alcohol here.
Aside from the more premium food offerings, there was slightly more amenities inside the Platinum and Business Class lounge. There was a couple of shower cubicles inside the public restrooms and some amenities are provided on the soap rack inside. Nothing fancy but I do not see myself taking a shower here since it is inside a public restroom.
Near the lounge entrance there is a small massage chair and reflexology area, and there are 2 special enclosed rooms. One was catered for smokers and another for VIPs, which I surmise caters to government officials.
There was also a separate kids play area with its own TV in one corner of the lounge. It was nice to see Garuda Indonesia catering to families who might use this lounge though it was empty when I visited.
The Business Class and Platinum members lounge was definitely larger and provided more seating space along with upgraded food amenities. However the dimly lit space and lack of proper dining tables does not really make this lounge much better than the Gold lounge. Primarily the benefit was a much larger space that had more segmentations affording guests more privacy. Guests might also appreciate more amenities catered to their needs from the kids play area to the smoking lounge.
Aside from the lack of differentiation, the new lounges by Garuda Indonesia certainly is up to par for a premium airline and that certainly makes it worth it to visit the lounge. With that being said, if Garuda Indonesia installs proper private shower rooms and upgrades its wifi offering to one that offers more speed and have a dedicated space to work, then it might be more conducive for frequent travellers. Right now the airline lounge is just adequate, but not worthy yet for a 5-star airline.