(Late Review of) 2016 Garuda Travel Fair

Traveling abroad (at least for Indonesian) now is getting easier and easier! 

With more low-cost airlines offering cheaper tickets either to European or Asian Pacific countries, more Indonesian get the opportunity to explore different countries which they commonly know from television or internet. It does not take long for premium airlines to “partially compete” by offering considerably lower ticket price (for the same premium service!) in certain events. 

Garuda Indonesia, the best Indonesia airline (and also the most expensive), has also been following the same approach. Garuda Travel Fair (GATF) has been conducted since 2009 and its scale seems to be bigger and bigger every year. This year, this event even conducted twice, on May and October. I personally was only aware of this event about two years ago, and even though I would have loved to get cheap tickets to fly either to Thailand or Seoul, I was too lazy to stand in long queue and compete with other people to book and buy a ticket. 

This year I decided to visit GATF just out of curiousity, while in the same time looking for flight tickets to Tokyo for my parents next year. Having heard the stories, I prepared myself for the worst (read: long queue, crazy crowd inside the building, shouting for attention in the booth). 

Surprisingly, it was not as bad as I thought. Yes, I had to queue for about two hours before I could get in, but situation inside the building was not too packed as I would have expected. Maybe this was driven by fact that this event occupied two big halls in Jakarta Convention Center (one of big convention center buildings in Jakarya). Or maybe because I was there only during the day, I missed the big crowd which (might have) jeopardized the event 🙂 

 >> Pass card to get into the event

 >> Queue in front of GATF entrance gate  

 >> Aand queue behind me… 😅

In this event, Garuda Airlines (GA) did not sell directly the cheap flight tickets, instead GA was having travel agents as intermediate partners. GA established “Happy Hour” (10AM to 1PM and 4PM to 7PM): a period when certain Garuda flight tickets were sold at cheaper price and had to be booked and bought immediately. Outside the “Happy Hour”, Garuda flight ticket in general was cheaper by around 20-25%, which was still quite good, I must say. But of course, getting ” Happy Hour” price would be the best option 🙂

Some key takeaways from 2016 GATF:

  • Come early so you will face less crowd. Particularly if you want to participate in “cash back” program held by participating/sponsorship bank (this year was BNI), you need to ensure you are part of limited participants
  • Once you are inside, just go to one travel agent which you are comfortable with. All agents will offer you the same price for Garuda flight tickets anyway
  • Browse for international flight tickets instead of domestic. The international flight ticket price in GATF is significantly cheaper than normal. In other hand, domestic flight ticket price does not differ much from normal price
  • Have a clear goal on which flight ticket you want to buy to speed up purchase process in the booth

In the end, I managed to buy Jakarta-Tokyo return flight with USD337/pax. Not bad at all considering it is Garuda. I guess I would not mind to visit the next GATF to do another hunting of cheap flight ticket 🙂

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