Inside a Hajj Flight – Garuda Indonesia “Special” B747-400

Join me on a Boeing 747 Hajj Flight from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia. Definitely an experience to remember for my whole life!

The journey started at Soekarno-Hatta Int’l Airport in Jakarta. 450 pilgrims checked in outside the airport and came directly to the airside waiting to board the Boeing 747. Many of them were first-time flyers. To speed things up, there was no boarding pass, pilgrims were given a seat number with red on the left and blue on the right side of the plane. Once the engine had started, many pilgrims began chanting prayers for a safe flight.

Captain Vitaly from Russia and First Officer Anton from Ukraine flew the Boeing 747 flight. Flight time to Jeddah was just over 9 hours. Garuda Indonesia wet-leased the B747-400 from Aquiline International to fulfill the mission.

Passengers were extremely humble and quiet during the flight. Many of them never used an airplane toilet before and need crew assistance. The Hajj flight crew were contractors who only worked for 2 months as Hajj cabin crew, nevertheless, they work with pride and honour as Hajj is a national event of Indonesia. They were extremely attentive to the needs of pilgrims ensuring they had a smooth journey.

Just before flying over Saudi Arabia, many pilgrims changed into white robes and the group leader started prayer calls at the point of Miqot where the pilgrims commenced Hajj. We arrived at the special Hajj terminal in Jeddah. After landing, it was an emotional moment with most pilgrims thanking the crew for taking good care of them while leaving the plane.

It was an absolute honor and privilege for me to join them on the flight. I experienced some of the most amazing human kindness from all the passengers and crew! Most of them waited and saved all their life for this moment; trip of a lifetime!

With the completion of our flight, stage 1 of the Hajj has been concluded with over 200,000 Indonesian pilgrims transported to Saudi Arabia making Hajj one of the mighty airlift operations. Video footage credit: Aquiline International and UPG Spotter