The Gall Of Garuda

April 11, 2010

in Airport Stories

Six years ago I was standing with friends in one of the check-in lines just before making the return trip from Bali to Australia. I first went to Bali in 1969 and immediately fell in love with the island and its people. I have been back many times since. On moving slowly up the line to the Garuda counter, I received a notice that stated that due to overbooking by the airline, Garuda was asking passengers if someone would be prepared to travel the next day, and as way of recompense some money, all meals and quality accommodations would be met by the airline. Most airlines are forced to make and honour such an offer from time to time, and I needed little incentive to stay an extra day.

However I was not comfortable with dealing with Garuda. Stretching back fifty years, this airline has a poor reputation in this part of the world and would never be classed as being reliable or trustworthy. So when I saw the manager about the offer, I asked him in front of my friends and the other travellers if this was a serious offer and would Garuda honour it? He then stated for all to hear that the offer was genuine and it would be honoured. The Garuda manager then took my passport and ticket to make the alterations and I sat while the other passengers were processed and went into the departure lounge.

After a short time the manager and another Garuda staff member holding my travel documents appeared. The manager smiled and asked politely if this was my only luggage. When I said it was, his attitude changed and he threw my case over the check-in counter to another Garuda employee who immediately ran off with it. While this was happening the Garuda employee holding my passport and ticket disappeared up some stairs. Then the manager and all the other counter staff, in something short of a gallop, raced to get behind the ‘No Admittance’ door. When I asked what was going on, the Garuda manager shouted over his shoulder that I was going on the flight I had originally been booked on, but it was all my fault as I had booked the seat. I was then alone in the Garuda check-in area with no luggage, little money (it was the end of a week’s holiday) and no passport.

Now it’s obvious that Garuda miscalculated that the flight was overbooked. However, instead of honouring the deal that they made with me, which all other airlines would have done, or just saying to me that Garuda had made a mistake and I would be travelling as originally planned, Garuda now falsely stated that I was to blame. However that was not the end of it. With no other avenues open to me, I then went to catch up with the Garuda employee who held my passport and ticket. He had gone through all my travel documents and found the money I had stored away for my departure tax. As I neared him he went into the immigration office and behind closed doors paid the tax. He then reappeared in the departure lounge and called for me to join him. As I did, he shouted in a loud voice that was clearly audible to everyone in the lounge, “It’s all your fault. You must hurry!” He kept on loudly repeating this the whole time to the departure gate. Not only was this embarrassing and an unnecessary ruse to get me on the aircraft, it was also a complete lie.

On arrival in Perth we were met by a Garuda representative. He looked at me and asked if I had a pleasant flight. I told him the flight was good but I was not happy with Garuda. He smiled and said that that he considered that wonderful news and that he was pleased for me. Thinking that he misheard my complaint, I once more said I was unhappy with Garuda. This time his smile grew wider and he told that he was very pleased for me.

A few days later I emailed what had transpired to the local Garuda office. I then received a letter from the same Garuda representative who met the aircraft on arrival. He stated that Garuda had done everything in accordance with the conditions of travel as laid down in the Warsaw Convention. Therefore Garuda was able to lie, embarrass, cheat and employ any game they wanted to as long as the passenger was transported to their destination within 24 hours. My complaint was just a waste of time and easily dismissed.

How many airlines can and do adopt such arrogance and bad treatment of their clients? Also it should be noted that Garuda is not a poor budget airline run on a shoe string, but the international airline for the Republic of Indonesia. Through its local representative, Garuda’s supercilious and puerile stance has continued to the present day.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

nitro April 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Travelled on Garuda many times back in the 70's. Nothing you said surprises me in the least. It really got wild on the domestic flights!


mick April 18, 2010 at 12:16 am

Indonesia is no friend of Australia. I predict that we will go to war with them sooner or later. They are weird, as is their national carrier.


Iloveflying February 19, 2016 at 9:55 am

Can't believe they lied in front of everyoneike that! That takes the cake for sure!


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