When you are flying business or first class, do you savour and enjoy the moment and relax? Or do you also wonder what goes behind the scenes on what makes a product and service go smoothly?
I’m more of the latter. Even after 10 years in the travel industry, I still want to know how airlines make themselves more competitive and how staff are trained.
So I was only too thrilled to be invited by Garuda Airlines to have an in-depth look at how they have revamped their First, Business and Economy class services.
Held at the Alpha Flight Catering Services in Mascot, I was able to see first hand exactly what meals go on-board every flight that leaves Sydney to Denpasar or Jakarta.
The idea behind the preparation and presentation is to give passengers a feeling of dining at a restaurant, rather than inside an aircraft at 37,000 feet.
And so Garuda Indonesia now employs In-Flight Chef on all it’s long haul flights. Garuda classifies their long haul flights as any flight more than 5 hours so all Sydney – Jakarta (and vice versa) and Sydney – Denpasar (and vice versa) flights will have in-flight chefs.
The chefs are actual chefs from 5-star hotels around the world, and when they joined Garuda, they underwent cabin crew training, so not only can these guys and girls cook, but they can save lives too!
They weren’t mincing their words when they said they wanted to recreate a restaurant dining feel up in the air. All plates and cutlery were full-sized and quite heavy.
The development team of Garuda Indonesia event went as far as the Middle East and Japan just to source the right knives and plates for the service. On a side note, wouldn’t that be a fun job? A shopper for in-flight products!
Their meals all consist of a wide variety of Asian, Western and Vegetarian choices. You can also pre-order special requests 24 hours prior to departure on their website.
They also showcased what First Class passengers get on board.
I am really loving the soft and cushioned slippers. The cabin crew will take off the passenger’s shoes, stow it away for them and put the slippers on for them. That’s mighty impressive though I myself would prefer to do that on my own.
Business class passengers receive an amenity kit with products from L’occitane. Even the lavatory toiletries are full-sized L’Occitane products.
We were then shown what went on their re-training program. For the last year, Garuda Indonesia had been very busy in creating a whole new experience for passengers.
They did not really re-brand, but more like re-emphasised the core values of Garuda Indonesia and tried to incorporate that into their overall service (from ground to air).
Garuda Indonesia hired a third party product and service developer who explained the way they re-hauled and re-programmed things for improvement.
I really found it interesting that they have broken down into 7 different stages the journey of which a passenger goes through from boarding to landing.
They defined the feeling of a passenger per stage s/he goes through and perceived the needs s/he may need on every stage.
All existing cabin crew of Garuda Indonesia went on a re-training for 6 weeks for this program.
And if you are wondering if this re-training had been successful (as I have wondered too),
They just recently won the Skytrax Awards for 2014 Best Crew. Congratulations!
And then lunch time came. We were served meals by actual cabin crew (who I assumed were on layover?) and served actual meals that were concurrently being served on the Garuda Indonesia Sydney- Denpasar flight which took off about an hour earlier.
Based on the food alone, I can definitely agree that the presentation, serving, and even taste are unlike any business class plane food I’ve had.
Normally not a big beef person but the beef satay was my favourite among the three! So extremely tender and cooked very well. That’s saying quite a lot as I’m normally a seafood person.
And their dessert. Who knew the combination of coconut and strawberries would be this good? The slice of sponge cake at the bottom gave the entire dessert a very ice cream cake-like taste.
Now of course all these were tasted and ‘tested’ on ground, and they fared perfectly. But I’m sure you agree that nothing compares to the real service and product on an actual flight.
And I’m looking forward to experiencing this ‘for real’ when we fly Garuda Indonesia next month, so do stay tuned for that! 🙂