Garuda Indonesia isn’t well-known in the United States. It doesn’t serve any cities in America, and it has a relatively small footprint, with only 21 international destinations in 14 countries. But this luxurious airline is worth getting to know, particularly if you’re traveling to Indonesia. Its frequent flyer program, GarudaMiles, offers excellent redemption rates on domestic flights within the country.
One major hurdle to using GarudaMiles is that award tickets cannot be booked online or by phone; you have to go to a Garuda ticketing office. The airline’s U.S. offices are limited to New York, Chicago, Houston and Encino, California.
While Garuda can’t compete with the number of routes offered by major airlines, it does compete in quality. Garuda was ranked eighth in Skytrax’s top 10 airlines of 2015, above the well-respected Taiwanese carrier Eva Air and Australia’s Qantas Airways.
Garuda’s fleet is one of the youngest in the industry, with an average aircraft age of only four years. It’s growing, too. By the end of 2015, Garuda will have added 15 planes, to a total of 145.
GarudaMiles best redemption rates are on domestic flights within Indonesia.
In addition to being a SkyTeam member, Garuda is a partner with ANA, Jet Airways and Etihad Airways. You can also use GarudaMiles with the airline’s domestic subsidiary, Citilink.
GarudaMiles is a distance-based program with a separate award chart for every partner, but they all have similar redemption rates. Here is the chart for Delta, which is representative of redemptions on all partners:
Garuda doesn’t publish an award chart for its own flights; instead, it has a mileage calculator.
- Kids’ frequent flyer program available
- 300 miles for enrolling in GarudaMiles
- Excellent redemption rates for domestic flights on Citilink
- Comfortable seats and outstanding service in all classes
- Citi ThankYou transfer partner
- One-way awards allowed
- Award tickets must be booked at a Garuda ticketing office
- Expensive award flights for most routes
- Fuel surcharges
The best GarudaMiles redemptions are for short-haul domestic flights on Garuda and Citilink. If you want to explore Indonesia, you won’t find a better deal.
Long-haul award flights on Garuda and its partners are expensive. A business class round-trip ticket between the U.S. and Indonesia costs 220,000 miles each way. That’s 40 percent more than United Airlines charges for partner flights.
You can use miles to upgrade cash tickets one class: from economy to business, or from business to first. You can’t upgrade an award ticket.
GarudaMiles has three elite levels: Silver, Gold and Platinum. The base level, Blue, is assigned upon enrollment.
Each level includes the perks of the previous level.
- Silver: Preferred check-in counter in some domestic airports; ability to redeem miles for lounge access; 5 kg of excess luggage; priority reservation wait list; preferred seating
- Gold: Executive class check-in counter; free domestic lounge access for member; free lounge access for one guest on international flights; 15 kg of excess luggage; priority boarding, baggage handling and standby; 25 percent bonus miles on flights
- Platinum: Free domestic, international and business class lounge access for member and one guest; 20 kg of excess luggage; mileage gift on membership anniversary
Garuda Indonesia does not offer a co-branded credit card for U.S. residents.