Garuda is offering 90% off redemptions. How do we make this work?

Garuda has announced a 90% off award redemptions sale for all routes, all cabin classes. This is real. This is happening. The interweb is going crazy.

The biggest upside of this promotion for us in Singapore is that it excludes the majority of US-based flyers because

(1) Garuda doesn’t fly to the USA

(2) You need to physically go down to a Garuda office to ticket an award booking, and there are only a few across the whole USA

(3) According to some comments on OMAAT, Gaurda’s US offices don’t take US issued credit card (I have no idea how that makes sense, but could not care less)

Take that, you MSing, card churning, better sign up offer having yanks!

I love you guys, really. 

But their misfortune is our gain. The clock is ticking, so let’s get down to brass tacks.

Step 1: Figure out if you can get Garuda Miles

This is a non-starter if you do not already have Garuda Miles, or Citibank Premiermiles/Thank You points. That is the only credit card I know of in Singapore that allows you to transfer to Garuda.

If you don’t have Citibank points, all is not lost. Garuda allows you to buy miles at US$30 per 1,000 miles. Is this a great rate? Not really. But given how few miles you need it can still work. The main issue here is it is unclear how long the miles will take to post. Garuda lets you book without any miles in your account but you must ticket within 1 week (see point 2). If the miles come in post 31 December then you just have a nice little stash of unusable currency.

Step 2: Plan your dates

You need to issue your tickets by 31 December 2016 for travel between 1 Feb 2017 and 31 May 2017.

You will need to physically go down to Garuda’s offices in United Square Mon-Fri 9am-6pm. Which means that you only have next week to get this done (and need to transfer your Citibank points today if possible)

Unless you already have leave blocked or can block leave on short(ish) notice, you might be looking at taking a long weekend and going somewhere nearer like Japan.

There are 3 potential long weekends for you to do this

  • CNY (28-30 Jan)
  • Good Friday (14-16 Jan)
  • Labor (29 Apr-1 May)

Do note that if your plans change post 31 December 2016 and you wish to change dates, you will need to pay the full award price. Therefore it’s wise to freeze those dates right now.

Step 3: Plan your route

Image result for garuda indonesia first class

Image result for garuda indonesia first class

Garuda’s new First Class is amazing and everyone wants to try it. Unfortunately it only appears to be available on 3 routes serviced by 77Ws

  • DPS-NRT
  • CGK-SIN-AMS
  • CGK-SIN-LHR

Moreover, I cannot find any availability for DPS-NRT in F during the promotion period.  DPS-NRT in F is available for revenue bookings but not for awards so they might be blocking it.

This means that unless you can free up the time (and flexibility of travel dates) to pay Amsterdam or London a visit, you’re going to be looking at business (which is still a great deal at 90% off).

When booking Garuda business you want to be careful about what aircraft you’re flying.  Garuda has full flat 1-2-1 business class on its 777Ws

Image result for garuda 777 business class

And some of its A333s. I cannot confirm which routes have them.

Image result for garuda a330 business class

However, the rest of its A333s and all of its A332s only have the old, angled flat product in a 2-2-2 configuration. This one is probably not worth trying.

Image result for garuda a330 business class

I’m sure if you do a dummy booking online and fiddle with seat selection in business class, you should be able to see what type of A330 is servicing your route. In the interest of getting this article out asap I’ve not done that.

My experience booking with this promotion

I’ve gone and locked in a trip to Japan for the long labor day weekend, more to review the business class product than anything else. As much as my heart was set on trying the First Class product (because it’s supposed to give even SQ a run for its money), I just couldn’t find the space or make the timings work. I do hope some lucky reader is able to do this (and writes a detailed guest post trip report!)

I called up the Singapore call centre and after waiting about 5 minutes got through to an agent. She was very patient and knowledgeable as we went through various permutations of routes to see what worked. In the end I booked DPS-NRT-DPS, which requires me to position to Bali. SIN-DPS-NRT-DPS-SIN was available but required an overnight stay in Bali on the way back, which really didn’t work for me. Plus, the SIN-DPS leg left at 1655 on a Friday and I probably wouldn’t be able to make that work either.

The final damage was 12,600 miles(!) plus $134.50 in taxes for the round trip. I didn’t have the miles in my account yet but she was able to hold the award for 7 days. So now all I need to do is transfer over some of my Citi TY points.

I cannot tell you what ridiculous value that is, even if I’ll need to position myself to Bali (or I could redeem miles and fly SQ to DPS with $160 of surcharges…).

Is it safe?

I know it’s inevitable that people are going to be asking this question. And although it’s somewhat understandable, it’s also annoying in the sense that we do so many things on a day to day basis that have a higher inherent risk than flying. We take car rides without thinking twice about it.

No other form of transportation is as scrutinized, investigated and monitored as commercial aviation. Here’s a good summary

DEATH BY: YOUR ODDS

  • Cardiovascular disease: 1 in 2
  • Smoking (by/before age 35): 1 in 600
  • Car trip, coast-to-coast: 1 in 14,000
  • Bicycle accident: 1 in 88,000
  • Tornado: 1 in 450,000
  • Train, coast-to-coast: 1 in 1,000,000
  • Lightning: 1 in 1.9 million
  • Bee sting: 1 in 5.5 million
  • U.S. commercial jet airline: 1 in 7 million (if you look at global airline travel the figure is something like 4-5 million. I still fancy those odds)

People generally have a very poor understanding of probability and how incredibly safe air travel is today. To hear people who have never flown the airline put it down based on absolutely no hard evidence is just upsetting.

Years ago, I would not have flown Garuda. They had a terrible safety record. They were banned from flying to the EU. But the airline has undergone one of the most amazing transformations ever. It’s started winning awards like “most improved airline” for service and safety. It is now a 5 Star airline on Skytrax (and yes we can all argue about how valid Skytrax rankings are but still) and has resumed flights to the EU. It has amazing looking cabin products on its brand new 77W and A330 aircraft.

Or as this article on Coconut’s Jarkarta site puts it

It’s hard to remember now, but the perception of Garuda used to be quite different. In the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, the company was hit by financial and operational difficulties that caused its service standards suffer severely. It was even banned (along with all other Indonesian airlines) from entering Europe due to the country’s poor safety ratings.

But after that low point, the company initiated a series of programs, dubbed the Quantum Leap expansion plan, to turn the struggling airline around. Since then, its performance has consistently improved by leaps and bounds each year, earning it the aforementioned praise and awards. Buoyed by Garuda’s performance, the whole Indonesian airline industry has also seen great increases in standards, leading to the United States upgrading the country’s safety rating this year, allowing Indonesian carriers to operate routes to US cities for the first time in over a decade.

So I have absolutely no qualms about flying with the new and improved Garuda.

Good hunting everyone. Update me with what you get.

Related Posts

65 thoughts on “Garuda is offering 90% off redemptions. How do we make this work?”

  1. Hi Aaron, do you know if they can hold the award bookings while I wait for the transfer of the required miles from my credit card account to be completed? Thanks!

  2. hi,

    got myself through to their jakarta call centre and got them to hold an award for good friday weekend. now hoping that the citibank points will come through.

    techincally they are holding the ticket for a month, but the promo is only till 31 dec so got to ticket it by next week, fingers crossed 😉

            1. can i just state for the record i am having an enormous sense of schadenfreude now as I read the comments section on US-based blogs of people frantically trying to find an open garuda office and set up a us-based garuda account and figure out how to position themselves to start their trip.

              finally, a promotion for those of us outside the states.

                1. totally agree with you guys – for once we’re getting a better (and easier) deal than those based in the states. managed to snag SIN-LHR-SIN on J in May, was troubling the reservations staff to score a F redemption but reckon they’re all sold out. guess it’s time to transfer those premier miles.

              1. I’m actually kinda miffed at those who have grabbed the award seats but have no way to ticket because they can’t physically find a sales office. Come on! 🙁

                1. just ticketed mine last night. gonna be a fun routing for me
                  during the good friday weekend 😀
                  SIN-CGK-AMS-OSL-DXB-SIN

  3. I have booked one way from HND to CGK (first class) and CGK to SIN (Biz class) with 11250 miles + SGD137 tax. Now wait for my premiermiles to transfer to Garuda miles.

      1. I just called the ticketing center and want the date on 25 Feb 17, may be it is not a long weekend so i can get it easily. They told me is B777 but not sure if is the new B777 which you mentioned. Good luck to me.

          1. wow… thanks for the info…

            but i called to city bank they say it may take up to 14 days to transfer from premiermiles to garuda miles. kind of worried.

            1. Hmmm the strange thing is, I was at Garuda office this afternoon and specifically asked if SIN – HND or CGK – HND has F Class. The customer service said no. Unclear about their products? Good that you made it work for you @ Jason.

              No F availability in March or May for LHR, AMS or NRT.

              I did manage to book SIN – AMS return on J. Now wondering if I should ticket. It’s not what I want to try though #firstworldproblem

  4. Am on the road now and cannot really check but am all excited about this. but can Citi Rewards points transfer to Garuda or must it me Citibank Premier Miles? I’ve got lots of the former and none of the latter.

  5. The whole month of May is fully booked for F and J awards from LHR-SIN and AMS-SIN

    Managed to ticket SIN-LHR in J but sadly LHR-CGK-SIN in Y at the moment!

    15250 Miles in total. Quite a steal

  6. Hi Aaron, how is the process for buying garudamiles ? Will it be instantly reflected inthe garudamiles acct or can we buy miles at singapore office?

    Thanks..

  7. Hi,

    Just saw this post, can you folks help me with these 2 questions:
    1. how to convert the citi miles to garuda miles, is it by online conversion at citi reward site?
    2. how to search for the available redeem tickets, say for SG to AMS?

    Thanks
    Richard

      1. Spk, I figured out how to do seat selection (albeit too late, but useful for future reference). You need to click on “Make chargeable special services selection available” at Step 1 before proceeding onwards.

  8. I don’t have the right cc to take advantage of this but did get an F ticket LHR-SIN during their black friday sale. Paid cold hard cash for that so this is still a better deal but too late now! Flying over hari raya weekend.

    Also, I read in the comments section somewhere else that there is only one ticket per flight for this deal.

  9. Hi Aaron, quite worried about how long it’ll take to convert citimiles to Garuda miles as well. Don’t want to get stuck with a worthless bunch. Even at 2-3 working days, given the Christmas break, it’s cutting it quite close. Wondering if it might be safer to buy the miles (albeit at the premium) and save the citimiles for future Krisflyer redemption.

      1. oh boy, does it make sense to try buying the miles then? the link to buy miles leads to a pdf file with no instructions on where to send it even. =/
        was planning to head to the office to check on the award availability.

  10. Just got off Live Chat and Twitter with Garuda. They confirmed the 90% promotion is off and all award tickets on hold will cost the usual full miles instead to issue. In their own words: “90% discount is already closed because it’s already fully booked. For the latest issued discount ticket is yesterday.” (23 December). What.

    1. I contacted GA again at 11 AM SG time after seeing conflicting reports that GA will honor the 90% discount for reserved tickets.

      Now, the GA CS says policy has been updated – 90% discount is valid for tickets on hold, must issue in a GA office by 31 December.

      I’m adopting a wait and see attitude as GA policies seem to flip every other minute. And sorry, my earlier comment has been rendered invalid.

  11. I can confirm Ed’s comments that it is closed due to overwhelming response. I just called in a minute ago. Last ticket was redeemed last night.

      1. Yea, riot from me who missed it and couldn’t get online yesterday.

        By the way, how do you get wind of such promotions? Is there a airline promotion aggregator that pushes promotions to my email that I can sign up for somewhere? That may make for faster turnaround time next time there’s a promotion.

  12. Hi i just book return sin-cgk in business and return CGK-ICN in business as well for 2 pax as well. total miles spend 4500 (tax about 160 sgd)and + 2*12600 (tax about 130 sgd).
    It seems they cant book in one go SIN-CGK-ICN so must redeem separately. Since i only have 20000 GFF miles, i need to top up 6000 miles , the top up easily proceed directly at the office at cost about 275000 idr/30 usd per 1000 miles (strange conversion rate).

    sinc

      1. I book on 22 Dec afternoon via call centre and issued the ticket on 23 Dec morning in their office.
        Correction me and my partner have total combination 25000 GFF miles.

          1. it is already viral in aviation and secret price ticket forum,website and blog since 22 December and i guess it wont take to long for them to rush for it

  13. I guess the Singapore office team is either lazy or they have exhausted their quota. Called up their office in KL and was informed the offer is still available, but just one seat on most routes. And no availability on the routes i was looking for.

    1. nope. and i am spending a lot of time with both citibank and garuda on the phone, both of whom insist it is the other party’s fault.

      1. The Garuda staff told me tomorrow Garuda office is only half day, so most likely i will go down this afternoon. They told me can buy miles on the spot to redeem the ticket, so i will do that instead of waiting for miles to transfer.

        1. yeah they told me that too. but in your case, do you know what is holding up your transfer? for me, it’s the hyphen in my chinese name that is on my citibank account but not my garuda account (they don’t support special characters). i don’t want to have to pay out of pocket for the miles leh, i think that defeats the purpose. and in your case, what happens when you buy the miles and your citibank transfer shows up a few days later? orphan miles?

          1. citi told me miles already transfer, garuda said miles not in yet, i also dont know why???

            i have transfer 30k miles… cos was thinking can redeem for some other flight, but who knows the promo ended earlier 🙁

            In case the miles show up few days later and i have bought the miles now, i will just leave it there for future use. Who know garuda will have another 90% promo again and i can redeem immediately (just think for the best lor, hehe)

            what’s ur opinion?

            1. I’m getting the runaround from both parties. I think the chances of another 90% off are virtually zero. In my case I’m a bit less concerned whether my miles transfer because i only got business class. If i had first class I’d be super anxious. I mean if it happens it happens. If not i just write a complaint and get my transfer fee back

              1. Just got my miles transferred from Citibank and got my ticket issued here in garuda office. Yeah….

                I heard they mentioned something about “the Aaron one also settle”, not sure is refer to you or not, Aaron. Good luck ya.

                1. Definitely me haha. I’ve spoken to almost every single person at garuda office over the past week. They’ve told me to go down tomorrow and they will process it. Fingers crossed…

  14. I held a booking on 23 Dec and could only find a one-way biz class ticket. I transferred the Citi points that day and they arrived in my Garuda account ~3 days later. After a lot of tooing and froing with various sales offices, my booking was finally ticketed today. This was only done after the local office sought special approval from head office in Indonesia. I’m not sure anyone with a full time job could have jumped through the various hoops.

  15. Reserved and transferred Citi Miles on 23rd, miles in on 27th, ticketed 28th. Pretty smooth affair.

    The miles are still not deducted from the Garuda account though. Is it the same for anyone else? Hope they forget entirely about it haha.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.