The Disaster That Is the Garuda Indonesia 90% Off Promotion


Want to fly our excellent first class product? Good. Want to do it for 90% off? Great. Now, make sure you have a week free, because we’re going to need to you to come to Jakarta to ticket this. You want to do that? Good. Oh, right, there’s something we should tell you. We’re calling off the promotion. Thought you might want to know that.

The above closely resembles the thought process of Garuda Indonesia’s management from when they announced their 90% promotion to yesterday, when they ended it without notice. But first, some backstory.

Garuda Indonesia (which country it is the national airline of is not hard to guess) announced an absolutely insane promotion on Wednesday, wherein one could get award tickets in all cabins (including first class, which features fully enclosed suites) for 90 percent off. This meant you could reserve tickets in Garuda’s excellent first class from Jakarta to anywhere for less than 19,000 miles one-way, or business class for less than 9,000. Economy class tickets were an insane 5,000 miles one-way at their most expensive.

The fact that Garuda Indonesia is a transfer partner of both AmEx and Citi meant a lot of people were transfering points to take advantage of this deal. However, it soon came out that you would have to travel to a Garuda office to ticket your award, and, while Garuda allegedly has offices in the US, it is unclear if these actually are open to the public. This meant some people actually considered flying to Jakarta (or Singapore, the location of the other Garuda office which actually exists) to ticket these awards, which they would use to fly back to Jakarta again. We are a nutty bunch, aren’t we?

And then, late yesterday, Garuda ended the promotion without notice. Garuda said they would let you keep the awards you had already paid for and those you had reserved (though you have to go to Jakarta or Singapore to ticket these). Garuda said the early end of the promotion was due to all possible tickets being sold out, though many people are calling bull on this. After all, the only people who were able to ticket this were those who had access to a Garuda ticket office which actually ticketed reservations and those who decided to fly to one. So, basically, Garuda is saying that every possible first class award seat was bought by people who happened to live near a ticketing office and by those who wanted to go to one. Just a tad strange…

I honestly don’t know what the point of this whole thing was. No airline would voluntarily sell tickets at one tenth what they otherwise would just because; they did it because they want to generate some positive press. They wanted to be known as the airline which was selling tickets at a 90% off discount. But now they’re just going to be known as the airline which offered an incredible promotion, then made people fly to Jakarta to take advantage of it, and then cancelled the deal before prematurely. There’s a big difference.

Why did it happen this way? Well, I think Garuda was well meaning when they started this promotion, wanting to generate some positive press. However, they made the deal so hard to take advantage of that not all the people who wanted to book these discounted tickets could, and ended up generating a lot of negative press as well. This is where the whole thing just doesn’t make sense: why did they do it in the first place if they made the conditions so restrictive, making it really hard to take advantage of if you didn’t live in/want to fly to Jakarta or Singpore?

The whole thing is just plain weird. If you ask me, the whole thing wasn’t a good idea to begin with: if they made the promotion easy to take advantage of, they would have gotten tons of positive press, but pretty soon they would have sold all the seats available and they wouldn’t make any money off of their first class product for months to come. But doing what they did just made people kind of annoyed and generated plenty of negative press. Neither option is a good one.

Definitely the weirdest mileage deal of the year.

About the Author

I'm Alex, and I am an enthusiast in all things travel: miles and points, airplanes, airline products, and more. On this blog, you can read my take on recent travel/ commercial aviation news, trip reports, ramblings, rants, and opinions, and I'll even share some of my aviation photography from time to time. Hope you enjoy reading, and happy travels!

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