CAUTION: More Information on the Garuda Indonesia Deal…

Update (3:37 pm ET): Garuda Indonesia has confirmed on Twitter that you can show your membership card via the Garuda Indonesia smartphone app in lieu of a physical card. That’s great news for people who have signed up for an account recently! Note that you will still need to physically visit one of their offices to issue the ticket.

Garuda Indonesia this morning came out with a monster promotion, where you can redeem award tickets at just 10% of the price (90% off). The deal was so good that there were questions about whether it was a mistake, or if we were interpreting the deal incorrectly.

Well, I have been able to verify the discounted price, and was even able to put a few tickets on hold (more on that). Garuda First Class, here I come! Right? Well…not so fast.

Garuda Indonesia First Class Lounge. Source: Garuda Indonesia

Garuda Indonesia First Class Lounge. Source: Garuda Indonesia

In the process, I have also discovered and confirmed a few key pieces of information, which might make taking advantage of this deal extremely hard for some folks.

Good News: You Can Hold Tickets Without Enough Miles in Your Account

I gave Garuda Indonesia a call, and was able to put two tickets on hold for my parents. The friendly (and competent) agent on the phone asked for my Membership number, and verified my identity with my date of birth.

I was redeeming a ticket for Melbourne (MEL) – Bali/Depensar (DPS) in Business Class, and then Bali/Depensar (DPS) – Tokyo (NRT) in First Class. While the First Class route didn’t show availability online (it showed an error message), the agent was able to piece together the itinerary with the right fare buckets. I even saw the number of seats for sale decrease in ExpertFlyer for my flights.

The original price was 54,000 miles for Business Class between Melbourne and Depensar-Bali, and then 90,000 miles for First Class between Depensar-Bali and Tokyo. The agent informed me when confirming my reservation that the ticket would cost 5,400 + 9,000 = 14,400 miles under the current promotion, plus about ~US$96 in taxes/fees. I was given a record locator, so all is well. Awesome!

Garuda Indonesia was able to hold the seats for my itinerary.

Garuda Indonesia was able to hold the seats for my itinerary.

Not once did he check whether I had enough miles in my account; he informed me that as long as I have the miles when I ticket the itinerary, there would be no problem. Now, about that…

Semi-Bad News: Purchase or Transfer of Garuda Indonesia Miles NOT Instant

Most of us may be thinking about transferring Citi ThankYou points to Garuda Indonesia, at a 1:1 ratio. However, the transfer isn’t instant. There are reports of the transfer taking 48 hours, but Citi’s official language says the transfer can take up to 14 days. In other words, chances are your miles will be in the account in time for you to book, but if they aren’t, you can’t hold Citi responsible.

If you don’t have enough Citi ThankYou points and are desperate about taking advantage of this deal, you can purchase ThankYou points at a rate of $25 per 1,000 points. Just call Citi to process the purchase, which is instant.

Of course, if you don’t have a Citi ThankYou card, you can also purchase Garuda Indonesia miles, at a rate of $30 per 1,000 miles. However, this purchase is not instant, and requires you to fill out a form and mail or fax it in to Garuda Indonesia (presumably, because the form doesn’t actually say). There is no telling how long it would take the points to post, and you may end up missing the deadline.

Bad News: You Need Visit a Ticketing Office with ID and Original Membership Card…BEFORE December 31, 2016

I already mentioned this in the original post, but I wanted to stress this very important point. You will need to physically visit a Garuda Indonesia ticketing office to “purchase” the ticket. Here is what you need:

  • The person whose miles are being used must physically visit one of the worldwide offices to ticket the itinerary
  • You will need to bring the original membership card with you
  • You will need to bring the original passports of all travelers on the itinerary (they don’t have to go to the office with you)
  • DO IT BEFORE December 31, 2016 to take advantage of the promotion

If you just created a Garuda Indonesia account today, the card probably won’t make it to you until after December 31, 2016. Mine didn’t come until 4 weeks after I registered two months ago. Additionally, there are only four offices in the US (Chicago, New York, Houston, and Los Angeles), none of which are in the airport. In fact, the agent on the phone told me that they cannot and will not issue award tickets at the airport.

So, back to my story. I am currently in Dubai, and my parents (and their passports) are in Frankfurt. My Garuda Indonesia card is in Philadelphia, and I won’t make it to a city with an office until after January. Sorry mom and dad…I tried.

I double-confirmed all of this information with the agent on the phone, but of course there is always a chance that they aren’t 100% enforced (e.g. they may accept a printed membership card). However, he has no reason to lie, and I am definitely not going chance it.

I don’t think Garuda Indonesia intentionally made this promotion so difficult to take advantage of, it’s just that they might not have the process or technology in place. I wouldn’t hesitate to call and hold a ticket that you’re interested in, since there’s always a chance they could extend the deadline in light of the extreme inconvenience, and you don’t need miles in your account to hold tickets. However, I wouldn’t transfer points unless I am absolutely sure I can make all four things I mentioned in the bullet points above happen. 

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Comments

  1. It took 4-5 weeks for me to receive my physical GarudaMiles card as it was mailed from Indonesia. Good luck to everyone who tries this and hopefully a printed card is sufficient.

  2. Wow great breakdown, I got my hopes up sigh. One question, how long are you able to hold the reservation for? did you call the main sales number or was it another country?

  3. Also, I called the phone number listed for US sales to check on coming in to finalize the reservations (which are already on hold). The person could not have been more useless.

    All he kept saying was either 1) “walk in not allowed” or 2) “you must call the jakarta head office”. Literally all I wanted to know was their hours. He said they don’t handle miles reservations and cannot do anything in person. Don’t know what to do?

  4. I owe @Lucky an apology. I cannot believe this promo really is real! Pretty amazing!

    I see CGK-AMS open everyday but not a single seat form Tokyo to DPS or CGK 🙁

  5. FYI as if this needed any more complications there are some data points on FT where it seems some offices may have closed and/or moved. Anybody doing this if they are going to transfer points and/or travel some distance may want to verify the office they are heading to is in fact open. Good luck to those who try.

  6. Here is one for you parents: since they are in Frankfurt, you can create an account for them and buy miles to put on their account, and they can go to the office themselves 😉

  7. These are the most expensive free tickets in history: Here are the costs involved.

    Buy 19,000 Miles – $570 plus tax
    Taxes on Ticket – $200
    Ticket to fly to LA to book – $375
    Rental car in LA to get to ticket office – $60
    Parking – $10
    Time = Money. I would probably pay someone else to go for me (jk) but thats not possible – $1000 worth of hassle

    Total Cost -$2215 + any miles and tax required for positioning.

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