Air Travel between Bali and Jakarta Requires Patience

Rob Hourmont

Indonesia's busiest route with several daily flights back and forth is challenging to passengers and risky during the pandemic.
Standing in a packed Airport Transfer BusRob Hourmont

I took an evening flight from Bali to Jakarta on Friday. Being Friday, I wasn't surprised how busy the airport seemed when I arrived, which changed after reaching the gate area. 

With many flights delayed, the 10 gates at Denpasar airport were swamped. Everywhere else you can walk to, such as shops, cafes, and restaurants were also overly busy. People were diligently wearing masks, yet it's concerning to see so many people sitting or standing close together.

The boarding process is the same, no social distancing and long tight lines, cramming customers into planes. The plane I was on was almost at 100% capacity; as a result, it took forever to embark and disembark. Again, forcing you to spend a lot of time in line far too close to others. 

The arrival and baggage situation in Jakarta was chaotic. Passengers were packed into 2 busses, just like in the old days, jammed in shoulder to shoulder. Some people had their masks off; notably, these were foreigners, not locals. Next follows a 15-minute transfer to the terminal, a highly unpleasant and worrying experience, considering the current COVID developments. 

As you arrive in the chaotic baggage hall, with its 5 carousels catering to 15 or more flights at a time, you understand you are in for a long wait. A tremendous amount of patience and control is required throughout the journey, especially when waiting for your baggage. 1 hour or more is standard, even longer if your luggage finally turns up on a different carousel, and you manage to spot it from a distance. 

After this long and challenging trip, getting from the airport to the hotel at night is another mountain to climb. Once you are outside, you can expect to be surrounded by 50 men shouting at you to take their taxi. I was exhausted, so I bowed to the first salesman yelling at me, blocking my way. I can now advise that this was a big mistake and for folks to not go along with these salespeople intimidating you to get into their taxis - you'll end up paying 2 to 3 times more that way. These sales hawks take 75% of the fair I found out from the driver, thus hiking the regular rate accordingly. 

If you plan to arrive at Jakarta airport, please try to book a daytime arrival, as it's much less chaos during the day. Next, make sure you avoid the taxi hawks and to not be intimidated. Keep walking with your head down to the official Blue Bird or Diamond taxi cab stands. There you will get a clean and comfortable taxi with a polite driver and a metered ride; thus, you will not get bullied into spending a ridiculous amount on your taxi ride. 

Rob Hourmont, Jakarta, Indonesia.

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