We checked into our JAL flight to Tokyo at the First Class counters in Jakarta Terminal 3, even though our plane only had Business Class, thanks to my OneWorld Emerald status.
The check-in agent mistakenly told us that we had access to the Garuda First Class Lounge, which I visited back in 2017, but this turned out not to be the case. Honestly though it’s not a great lounge and I was keen to visit the Business Class lounge since it is used by far more people and the review would therefore be of use to a lot more of my readers!
Despite the small line outside, there was still an abundance of free seating available within the lounge.
The space was broken down into smaller areas using a variety of tables and dividers but clearly the designers were keen to cram as many seats as possible into the space. Having said that, there were plenty of decorative touches that made the design seem a world away from a drab Admiral’s Club.
One side of the main seating area had a glass wall looking over the terminal, whilst the other wall was dotted with various facilities: the bathrooms, a reflexology area and even a mini movie theatre!
At the far end of the sitting area (right by the entrance to the lounge) was the main buffet. The selection here was absolutely fantastic, with a heavy emphasis on local Indonesian specialities.
Having said that, there were still numerous Western options available, including three flavours of popcorn to take into the movie theatre.
A fridge full of soft drinks was on offer, in addition to the tea, coffee and flavoured water station.
At the far end of the buffet was a staffed bar, serving a selection of bottom/mid-tier spirits and some basic wine. No champagne or sparkling wine of any kind was available. This was quite disappointing given the excellent Billecart Salmon Rosé champagne that I’d been served onboard Garuda’s international Business Class in the past.
After sitting down to a bowl of seafood noodles and some spicy chicken wings I decided to explore a little bit more.
Heading beyond the bar I was surprised to pass two very large and very empty balcony areas, overlooking the terminal. These were rather reminiscent of the interior balcony of the Star Alliance lounge at LAX. Unlike the LAX lounge, there was a smoking room here – this has to be one of the very last major airline lounges globally to feature one (the only other one I can remember encountering is the SWISS Senator Lounge at the A Gates in Zurich).
I kept walking, not having encountered another soul for a good 100 metres or so, thinking I’d reached the end of the lounge. You can imagine my surprise then when I found what amounted to another entire lounge!
This overflow lounge featured improved decor, ultra high ceilings, plenty of charging sockets and a full buffet. The only downside was that it was much warmer than the main area, given that it relied on the notoriously underpowered aircon in CGK’s Terminal 3 (the unavoidable result of placing an enormous glass walled building in direct sunlight, in the middle of an equatorial climate zone).
This is one of the better Business Class lounges that I’ve visited. Great decor, a huge variety of local food, almost unlimited seating and even some unexpected extras like the movie theatre and reflexology area.
The low quality of the drinks is the only real negative. This isn’t a facility that wows like the Pier Business Class lounges in London and Hong Kong but it is certainly in the upper echelon of Business Class lounges globally.
You could easily pass 3-4 hours here without being bored, which given Jakarta traffic is a real bonus, since only an unhinged maniac would cut it fine when departing from this airport.