Flight test: Garuda Indonesia

The Garuda Airbus A330-200.
The Garuda Airbus A330-200.

Route Sydney to Denpasar, Bali.

Aircraft Airbus A330-200.

Class Economy 20G, an aisle seat in an exit row, so there's plenty of leg room. The exit-row armrests can't be raised, so I can't take use of the adjacent empty seat.

Flight time 6hr 30min (5hr 20min on the return flight). We take off on time and land 10 minutes early in Denpasar.

Seat width and pitch Seats are 17 inches wide; space between seats is 33 inches.

Seat configuration 2-4-2 layout for 186 economy-class seats.

Luggage Checked allowance for economy passengers is 30 kilograms; hand luggage must not exceed seven kilograms. Garuda carries surfboards free, with a limit of two and a total weight for any sporting equipment of 23 kilograms (in addition to the 30-kilogram general luggage limit).

Comfort The new chocolate brown and aqua colour scheme is attractive. Pillows and fleece blankets are supplied and seats recline; there are no footrests. The toilets have toothbrushes, hand lotion, sanitary pads and eau de toilette.

Entertainment There are seat-back screens (except at exit rows where screens on robotic arms come out of the armrests) and a comprehensive on-demand entertainment system: 47 new release and "blockbuster" movies (half are Asian movies with subtitles) as well as music videos, games, audio and children's programs. The entertainment system isn't switched on until after take-off; it's also switched off well before landing.

Service Check-in is impressively efficient and includes a dedicated counter where passengers can get their Indonesian visas (for $24, payable in cash only). Halfway through the flight, two Indonesian immigration officials work their way down the aisles, stamping our passports; Garuda is the first airline in the world to offer in-flight visa processing (on all flights from Sydney to Denpasar and Jakarta), which eases arrival into Denpasar considerably.

Food and beverages Orange juice and mixed nuts are served before take-off. My vegetarian meal (tofu and vegetables with rice, more orange juice, pineapple salad and fruit salad) comes about 45 minutes before the regular meals are served; it's delicious, but I'm not offered wine, or tea and coffee after the meal. Throughout the flight, attendants hand out small plastic water bottles but seem happy to refill passengers' own bottles with filtered water to reduce waste.

Flight frequency Garuda flies direct to Denpasar from Sydney daily, and from Melbourne five times a week (not Mondays and Thursdays). Economy-class return from Sydney or Melbourne costs from $1088, including taxes.

Tested by Louise Southerden, who flew courtesy of Garuda Indonesia.

This story Flight test: Garuda Indonesia first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.