If I were to say that the trip was an eventful one then it would be an understatement. But that’s another story. There is something else. Garuda Airlines are a great airline to fly with and just for fun, this time, I flew business class. No, I’m not flush with cash or even won the lottery, I do crazy things at times. Flying from Perth to Bali and not carrying on further to Java was unusual for me. I do have a bitch, however. Yeah, I just can’t write an article about an airline without complaining. My problem is with the business class lounge at Perth International Airport that is not directly a Garuda Airlines business lounge but that of Qantas. Nah, Garuda hasn’t merged with Qantas airlines per say, just the lounge for its business class travellers. Back in the 90’s Garuda had a separate class lounge but, it was in the late ‘90’s and the turn of this century when Garuda Airlines started to slip into the red. Although they are in the black now financially, albeit in the middle of a world economic crisis, there is still no sign of them slumming out on their own with a new business class lounge.
The scenario these days is that the morning flights to Bali from Perth depart at 8.15am whereas the business lounge doesn’t open until 7am. Plenty of time you say to grab a coffee or a free feed or even start your drinking early by downing a few lagers. But, you have to board the plane 30 minutes before departure and so this means your drinking time is severely dented; unless you can shotgun three bottles of Bintang quick pro and that would put you in the .05 and up level staggering to the aircraft, and, if you are seen attempting to prop up the walls as you make your way down the gangwalk to the plane then you are in the scope of airline staff or those nasty bastards that like to refuse you entry onto the plane for some obvious impediment – not that you are three sheets to the wind, it’s just your legs are not supporting your body that morning.
So, business class passengers pay all that money to fly ‘in comfort’ and are denied, virtually, proper use of the lounge in Perth International Airport; the only benefit really is the use of the business class lounge at Ngurah Rai International when you leave Bali, and besides, anybody can use this lounge now provided they pay the requisite Rp100,000. So, what’s the solution? Damned if I know. Perhaps I could stand on top the Garuda building in Jakarta and scream out a protest. Nah! I wouldn’t like the inside of an Indonesian jail.
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Take off!. Yeah, that mesmerising feeling you get every time you hurtle down the runway at breakneck speed, the sounds of first time fliers breathing deeply; the creasing of their knuckles grinding the seat rest, the groans and sighs of the stewardesses giving thanks to whoever they believe in for finally retuning to Indonesia and wishing the plane was a Concorde to get to their destination faster, then the sound of seatbelts being unbuckled even though the warning light forbids it. The ground disappears and clouds envelop the plane and little kids asking their mums if they will meet God up there. Dream on kid!
I slept through most of the flight ignoring all the usual touristy crap around me, the relentless batter of “Where are you staying and for how long”, “Have you been to…” and the ilk. When I finally awakened from my light slumber, the clogged streets of Denpasar and finally Kuta began getting closer to the underbelly of the plane and then ‘Thump’. I was back home in Indonesia.