Plane Sailing? Booking Indonesian Flights Online

Apr 22nd, 2009, in Travel, by

A comparison of Indonesian airlines' online booking websites.


Want to book a domestic flight in Indonesia? Now you can! Indonesia Matters now offers a domestic flight booking service.

Slowly but surely, Indonesian airlines have joined the 1990s 21st century and introduced online booking on their websites along with e-ticketing.

This offers a number of advantages to prospective customers/travellers, particularly in Indonesia:

- Tickets can be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People with day jobs don't have to take time off or rush after work to visit a travel agent; unfortunately, it seems travel agents rarely have email and are often "online", which in Indonesia means on the phone. Now, people can book tickets at their convenience.

- Handily for expats, computers are colour-blind, i.e. they do not discriminate on the colour of the customer's skin. Sometimes, foreigners will receive a higher "tourist price" from the travel agent.

- It is great for last-minute travel or early-bird specials. And unlike travel agencies, there are no delays for lunch breaks, systems being offline, power blackouts, prayer times, traffic jams, etc..

However, there are some limitations to online booking:

Payment methods
Perhaps to reduce fraud, many airlines only accept Indonesian-issued credit cards, not foreign ones. (Curiously, many foreign countries/companies do the opposite, and do not accept Indonesian fantastic plastic; Paypal is one recent exception). Also, the name on the credit card must match the name of the passenger, i.e. you can't buy tickets for somebody else unless you are travelling with them. However, on some airlines you can now buy tickets for a friend by booking online then paying at an ATM, assuming of course you have an Indonesian bank account. In that case, you don't type in the booking number (ATMs aren't usually alphanumeric), but a 13-digit payment code that comes with the booking.

Pre-registration
You often need to pre-register, which can be a long and difficult process, especially if you don't speak Indonesian.

Ticket saving and re-printing
Despite one of the aims of e-ticketing being to eliminate paper tickets and problems with losing them, Indonesian check-in staff often want to keep a copy of your flight itinerary on each leg of your journey. (Don't try showing up at the airport without one, as you won't get past security at the airport terminal entrance without it and some photo ID). As such, it can be handy if you can save and re-print e-tickets after the original purchase at short notice.

Hence, this general guide to booking flights online for Indonesian flights. I have considered the three areas above, and some other criteria before making an overall rating.

Below are just the airline's names and ratings; they are in alphabetical order, not order of merit. You can then either click on an airline's "Read why" to find out more, or just continue scrolling down to read them all. (Please note: this table rates the booking experience; please see here for ratings of the actual flight experience.)

Airline

Rating (/5)

Air Asia logo Read why
Batavia Air logo Read why
Citilink logo Read why
Garuda Indonesia logo Read why
Lion Air logo Read why
Mandala Air logo Read why
Merpati logo Read why
Sriwijaya Air logo Read why

(Last updated: December 2011)

Smaller airlines, e.g. TransNusa, Express Air, Trigana Air, Kal-Star, Kartika Air etc., do not offer online booking.

Of the smaller airlines, only Trigana Air has e-ticketing. This is especially useful for flights to Pangkalan Bun to see orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan.


Air Asia logo
Website: http://www.airasia.com/
Payment methods: Credit card, Indonesian and international; klikBCA
Pre-registration: Yes, easy
Ticket saving and reprinting: Yes, easy

Comments
As Air Asia receives almost all bookings over the Internet, you would expect that its website is easy to use, and usually it is. Air Asia is the only airline where you can book and pay for others by credit card (i.e. the passenger's name doesn't have to match the one on the credit card). It's easy enough to get a fare quote, but not so easy to work out the final price including extra fees like for baggage, meals, seat selection, insurance, etc. That also makes it one of the longest and slowest to book. But at the end, you receive an email with your full itinerary after booking and payment as a pdf. A couple of years ago, people complained to "The Jakarta Post" of their bookings having "disappeared" between purchase and check-in, and being denied boarding despite their credit card still being charged; however, this issue seems to have been resolved.

Overall rating:

Batavia Air logo
Website: http://www.batavia-air.co.id/
Payment methods: Credit card, Indonesian only; AMEX; KlikBCA; Paypal
Pre-registration: Yes, ok
Ticket saving and reprinting: Yes, not easy

Comments
Batavia Air is not suitable for last-minute booking, as it requires a booking period of at least 48 hours; the website says it's to allow for the credit card transaction to clear (although other airlines don't need as long). Receiving fare quotes isn't difficult, although sometimes the website's fare generator will give an error message instead of "No flights on this day" or "Sold out". You are asked to name your location and preferred language when you open the page; if you don't select "Indonesia" you will get quotes in $US instead of Rp, and you will often be charged MORE. Batavia is now the only airline to accept payment via American Express, perhaps only Indonesian-issued AMEX cards though. It also now accepts Paypal, but only for $US payments and can be more expensive this way, too.

Overall rating:

Citilink logo
Website: http://www.citilink.co.id/
Payment methods: Credit card, Indonesian; ATM
Pre-registration: No
Ticket saving and reprinting: Yes, ok

Comments
Citilink is a small airline based in Surabaya, but is slowly growing and recently launched more flights originating from Jakarta. It's website is fairly simple to use. The initial quote does not include taxes and charges, which is annoying; the final price only comes in step 3. Curiously, it recently ceased offering payment by klikBCA.

Overall rating:

Garuda Indonesia logo
Website: http://www.garuda-indonesia.com/
Payment methods: Credit card, Indonesian and some Asia-Pacific countries; klikBCA; Mandiri ClickPay
Pre-registration: Yes, difficult
Ticket saving and reprinting: Yes, difficult

Comments
Until recently, "online booking" at Garuda Indonesia meant reservations by phone, and - while its new look is an improvement - their new system is still behind its peers in terms of simplicity and ease of use. Registering and booking flights are difficult, due to all the options of flights etc. not being visible at the one time. Also, the Garuda-generated username is impossible to remember (requiring a copy and paste from your email program). Unlike phone booking, you cannot reserve online and pay later at the ATM. Currently it is only available for domestic flights and credit cards from these countries: Indonesia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea, although some people have reported problems with this on online forums like FlyerTalk. Eventually, Garuda published an apology on their website.

Overall rating:


Website: http://www.lionair.co.id/
Payment methods: Credit card - Indonesian, ATM, Online Banking (Mandiri, Niaga, BNI, klikBCA)
Pre-registration: No
Ticket saving and reprinting: Yes, easy

Comments
Lion Air is one of the easiest for booking and has many payment options too. You can now re-print tickets via the website by entering the passenger's name and booking code. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to pre-register, so you have to write all your details every time you book a ticket; best you use a browser like Mozilla Firefox that remembers these details for next time. However, unlike Garuda, you can book international tickets online (to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur) in Rp and not $US.

Overall rating:

Mandala Air logo
Website: http://www.mandalaair.com/english/index.html
Payment methods: Credit card only
Pre-registration: No
Ticket saving and reprinting: No

Mandala Air returned to service in April 2012; it currently only offers one domestic route: Jakarta to Medan

Merpati logo
Website: http://www.merpati.co.id/
Payment methods: Credit card - Indonesian; klikBCA; Mandiri
Pre-registration: Optional, in Indonesian
Ticket saving and reprinting: Yes, easy

Comments
Over time, this website has improved markedly. It doesn't look very visually appealing, but it is functional and relatively easy to follow. Unlike before, you can now book and pay online. You can also easily re-print your itinerary via the "My Booking" page.

Overall rating:

Sriwijaya Air logo

Website: http://www.sriwijayaair.co.id/
Payment methods: Credit card, Indonesian only; klikBCA; ATM BCA, BRI, BNI
Pre-registration: Optional, not easy
Ticket saving and reprinting: Yes, easy

Comments
Sriwijaya Air joined the world of online booking relatively recently. Their site is easy enough to understand/use, but it's nothing special. Payment options were few at first, but are increasingly slowly. You receive an email with your e-ticket almost instantly after you pay, unlike e.g. Lion Air or Citilink where you can wait an hour or longer. You can save your details for next time, but for some email addresses are too long and won't work. Originally, the e-tickets didn't look very nice, but have improved recently.

Overall rating:

What have your experiences of online booking been? Please share them with other readers - the good, the bad and the ugly. I would also appreciate any updates or corrections; I last made some in September 2012.

(Of course, the Internet is subject to change and as such the information and ratings provided are only correct at the time or writing.)


36 Comments on “Plane Sailing? Booking Indonesian Flights Online”

  1. avatar Perth Guy says:

    I need to book a domestic flight (JKTA – Balikpapn) and after considering all options above i think that CITILINK looks most promising…

    seems the info above is a little old and recently CITILINK has become the number one choice (Airasia doesnt service this route direct)

    anyone here flown citilink/.??

  2. avatar Chris says:

    Hi Perth Guy,

    I wrote about my experiences flying Citilink on the Lonely Planet ThornTree Forum here.

    You can compare the benefits and disadvantages of flying Citilink and/or other airlines here:
    Which Airline?

    It might not look like it, but we do update this page with new information as it becomes available, based on our own experiences.

  3. avatar Perth Guy says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for info and links,

    the comments on your thread at lonely planet are helpful. Do you know whether its possible to book citilink with a australian mastercard? Its unusual as im sure garuda can be booked using Oz CCard?

    If not possible what is the best way to go about doing this?

  4. avatar Chris says:

    Hi Perth Guy,

    As explained in the above article, Indonesian domestic airlines only accept Indonesian credit cards. Air Asia and Garuda Indonesia are the exceptions.

    If you want to book a Citilink flight with an Australian credit card, I recommend our affiliated flight booking service, Mau Ke Mana. They get around the credit card problem by using Paypal.

  5. avatar perth guy says:

    Thanks for all the info Chris, much appreciated. Will try out the Mau Ke Mana booking service..

    cheers

  6. avatar Jason says:

    This article need to be updated.
    I have tried online booking for Garuda International flight, and I had no problem.
    Online booking Mandala now merge with Tiger.
    Kalstar and Susi Air now can be booked online. But I never tried it.
    Now we can see the final price in the first page when booking online with Citilink.

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