0900 is an early international flight time out of Melbourne, especial on a May Sunday morning, when that Sunday is in fact mothers day, and it’s cold, wet, quite windy and promising to get worse. Despite one minor hiccup (herself failed to hear the alarm – however the fail safe kicked in) we got away all right, checked in on time, and killed the hour pre-flight with buying Vodka (her) Scotch (me) and tackling half a toasted cheese sandwich and a coffee. “No lounge access on these tickets Mr Watson”, condemned us to the public facilities, which have greatly improved since I last had the need to make use of them I must say.
GA 719 departed spot on time, seats 9A and 9C had our names on them, and from the moment the Billiecart Champagne was served to herself pre-take off she was “in the groove”. She was offered a blanket, accepted; more champagne gratefully accepted and she settled in in style, only concerned that the flight might not be quite long enough for her to enjoy everything on offer.
Lunch was the order of the day – despite it only be 1000 in Melbourne and an even earlier 0800 in Bali – and we both decided to choose from the Indonesian side of the menu. Good idea! Substantial servings, of fresh, tasty and well presented asian style food were delivered over the three courses, comprising substantial nibbles, a noodle soup dish – difficult to eat on a plane and a tasty main course that hit all the right spots in terms of spice, heat, flavour and taste. Indonesian ice cream wrapped it all up and a couple or three glasses of a delightful Italian red – from the Tuscan region – aided it all along.
The entertainment selection was good, I found American Sniper, which I had missed first time around and, after a couple of false starts when the system had to be rebooted, witched it all without a hitch – good movie and there were plenty of others to choose from. The seat was comfortable, the controls easy to operate and the bed (even though I did not use it) was lie flat and comfortably wide enough for me. Water, headphones, amenities kit and pillow were all provided, and I too could have had a blanket had I deemed it necessary.
After the movie we both drifted off, only to wake up in time for in betweeners, which consisted of three sate sticks for me and a mini Nasi Goreng for her, before we began our descent into Denpasar airport. We arrived 21 minutes early, disembarkation was quick, transit through immigration, after purchasing our visa on arrival ($A100.00) was equally speedy and clearing customs was a breeze. We were out so quickly our driver was not ready for us, a fault rectified quite quickly by the information desk, who found him.
So, we had arrived safely in warm and sunny Bali – for the first time in five years, and it had started very well. We both agreed, if the standard both in aircraft and service – that was set on GA 719 was maintained all the way to Europe, we could cheerfully add Garuda to our short list of travel partners.
Written by : Peter Watson