You’re Outta Here!

May 7th, 2010, in IM Posts, Travel, by

Plane Sailing (Part 2) - Tips for booking international flights from or in Indonesia.


If you thought booking a domestic flight in Indonesia was tricky, booking an international flight ticket can have even more traps for new players.

And tourist visa regulations stipulate that international visitors still need to have a ticket out of the country within the 30-day period too, regardless of whether they are wanting to renew their visa (for a 60-day stay), looking for work, etc.

The biggest issues are: Which currency? and Payment Method.

- Which currency?

Almost all international flights have prices in $US/USD, not Rp/IDR.

However, there are some exceptions:

Air Asia logo Lion Air logo
You can book flights out of Indonesia on these airlines, and pay in Rupiah.

While many banks offer $US bank accounts, many people don't have them due to e.g. large minimum account balances. Even those who do can find it difficult accessing the funds; while it seems every branch has a list of exchange rates/kurs (see below), very few actually hold stock of any foreign banknotes.

Exchange Rate Board
Exchange Rate Board

Commonwealth Bank and HSBC have selected (not all) ATMs that dispense $US, and that is only in multiples of $US100 up to $1000. (Not enough unless you are travelling alone and/or nearby).

Commonwealth Bank hsbc
Want to be Mr Dollar? Visit one of these banks' ATMs.

Other banks require you to go to the branch, sometimes visit/phone ahead a day before, and sometimes you can only withdraw $US at the branch where you originally opened the account.

Having said that, if you bring Rp cash travel agents and airlines' ticket offices can charge a particularly crap exchange rate, perhaps as a secret/back-door way of increasing their profit margin. Garuda's exchange rate of the day is usually on public display in their offices (good), and is about Rp500 below the official Bank Indonesia exchange mid-rate (not good, about Rp300 worse than a money changer).

The latest $US/Rp exchange rate
The Bank Indonesia Rp/$US exchange rate, for the last two weeks.
It updates itself automatically, so will remain current.

Another problem keenly felt sometimes is Rp is a volatile or less stable currency. If you only have Rp and the currency suddenly decreases in value against the $US (as happens from time to time), that international flight ticket suddenly gets a lot more expensive.

So you need to make your own judgment based on the factors above.

- Payment Method

(i) Travel Agent
It can be difficult for expats to get a local credit card, so often they have to try to use their foreign one. However, if you use it at a travel agent (assuming they accept a foreign credit card; many don’t), you could pay double currency conversion fees: $US to Rp, and Rp to your card’s currency e.g. $A, $US, Euro, etc.

So, what is a way around this? You could pay with cash (whether $US or Rp), although this is less safe and requires a reliable moneychanger or helpful bank – both of which can be hard to find.

(ii) Online
While almost all travel agents in Indonesia prefer payment in cash (whether Rp or $US), buying online requires a credit card.

As mentioned above, almost all international airlines sell tickets in $US. If you’re an American with a credit card from back home, no problem. For everybody else, if you want to avoid losing out in currency conversion fees, you could try getting one of these:

American Express charge card
an American Express Charge Card

Not to be confused with their credit card, it is offered online and through their local agent Bank Danamon, and has a dual-currency billing function; i.e. you pay Rp transactions in Rp, and $US (or any other currency) transactions in $US. However, you have to be a permanent resident of Indonesia to get one, and I (on a KITAS) have applied and failed multiple times. The annual fee is relatively high also, starting at Rp650 000.


Another way is Jetabroad.

jetabroad
Jetabroad

For expats who still have a credit card from “back home”, it will let you buy tickets in one of Aussie/Canadian/Hong Kong/New Zealand/Singapore/US Dollars, British Pounds, Euros or South African Rand. So you will minimise/avoid hidden currency conversion charges.

In addition, unlike airline websites the credit cardholder doesn’t have to be a passenger, i.e. it will let you book and pay for somebody else’s ticket. This is really unusual these days, and very handy for people e.g. wanting to buy a ticket for their family to visit them. I have done this for a friend myself; they just called me first to verify that it was me who booked the ticket.

Plus, it will sometimes give you a multi-airline combination ticket that would not appear from a single airline’s website, and will let you purchase online tickets from airlines that don't offer online booking e.g. Garuda international flights.

Of course, there are some limitations. It doesn’t have every airline, and none of the budget/low-cost ones. Flights that don’t depart on the dates selected – e.g. which only depart three days/week - don’t appear at all, so you have to fish around a bit to see whether changing the dates gives a cheaper fare, more direct flight, etc.

It may often turn out to be a little more expensive than buying from an airline’s website, but it gives a good general starting guide.


So where do you want to go on your next holiday? Look at the general guide below - direct flights only - correct as at May 2010:

I want to go to: I am coming from: Possible Airlines
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Jakarta Etihad
Adelaide, Australia Denpasar Pacific Blue
Amsterdam, the Netherlands Denpasar
Jakarta
KLM
Garuda, KLM
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Jakarta
Surabaya
Royal Brunei
Royal Brunei
Bangkok, Thailand Denpasar
Jakarta
Air Asia, Thai Airlines
Air Asia, Garuda, Thai Airlines
Beijing, China Jakarta Air China, Garuda
Brisbane, Australia Denpasar Jetstar, Pacific Blue
Dammam, Saudia Arabia Jakarta Garuda
Darwin, Australia Denpasar Jetstar
Dili, East Timor Denpasar Batavia Air, Merpati
Doha, Qatar Jakarta
Denpasar
Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways
Dubai, United Arab Emirates Jakarta Emirates, Garuda
Frankfurt, Germany Jakarta Lufthansa
Guangzhou, China Denpasar
Jakarta
Shenzhen Airlines
Batavia Air, China Southern, Garuda
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Jakarta Air Asia, Lion Air
Hong Kong, China Denpasar
Jakarta
Surabaya
Cathay Pacific, Garuda
Cathay Pacific, Garuda
Cathay Pacific, Garuda
Istanbul, Turkey Jakarta Turkish Airlines
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Jakarta Garuda, Lion Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines
Johor Bahru, Malaysia Jakarta Air Asia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Banda Aceh
Bandung
Denpasar
Jakarta
Lombok
Makassar
Medan
Padang
Pekanbaru
Solo
Surabaya
Yogyakarta
Air Asia
Air Asia
Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines
Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines
Merpati
Air Asia
Malaysia Airlines
Air Asia
Air Asia
Air Asia
Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines, Merpati
Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines
Kuwait City, Kuwait Jakarta Kuwait Airlines
Manila, Phillipines Jakarta Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air

Melbourne, Australia Denpasar
Jakarta
Garuda, Jetstar, Pacific Blue
Garuda
Nagoya, Japan Denpasar Garuda
Osaka, Japan Denpasar Garuda
Penang, Malaysia Banda Aceh
Jakarta
Medan
Firefly
Air Asia
Air Asia, Firefly, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air

Perth, Australia Denpasar
Jakarta
Air Asia, Garuda, Jetstar, Pacific Blue
Garuda, Jetstar
Phuket, Thailand Jakarta
Medan
Air Asia
Air Asia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Jakarta Garuda, Lion Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines
Sana'a, Yemen Jakarta Yemenia
Seoul, South Korea Denpasar
Jakarta
Korean Air
Korean Air

Shanghai, China Denpasar
Jakarta
Shanghai Airlines
China Southern, Garuda
Singapore Bandung
Denpasar

Jakarta

Lombok
Medan
Padang
Palembang
Pontianak
Semarang
Solo
Surabaya

Yogyakarta

BDG: Air Asia
DPS: Air Asia, Garuda, Singapore Airlines, Valuair/Jetstar
JKT: Air Asia, Batavia Air, Garuda, Lion Air, Singapore Airlines, Tiger Airways, Valuair/Jetstar
LOM: Silk Air
MES: Silk Air, Valuair/Jetstar
PDG: Tiger Airways
PAL: Silk Air
PON: Batavia Air
SEM: Batavia Air, Garuda
SOL: Silk Air
SUB: China Airlines, Silk Air, Valuair/Jetstar
YOG: Air Asia
Sydney, Australia Denpasar
Jakarta
Garuda, Jetstar, Pacific Blue
Garuda, Qantas
Taipei, Taiwan Denpasar
Jakarta
Surabaya
Eva Air, China Airlines
Eva Air, China Airlines
Eva Air, China Airlines
Tokyo, Japan Denpasar
Jakarta
Garuda, Japan Airlines
Garuda, Japan Airlines

Do you have any other tips you would like to share (or questions you'd like to ask) about buying international flight tickets in/from Indonesia? Please add them with a comment below.


35 Comments on “You’re Outta Here!”

  1. avatar shawty says:

    Just want to share :
    If you looking for the cheapest domestic flight fare better if you go and survey to several (like one or two) travel agent in the town as usually they have the best offer rather than buying online.

    but..
    if you want to travel to abroad buying online always the best option to get the cheapest one but yeah for inexperience local get prepare to look after the visa thing yourself which is easy actually just (if u want to read and learn).

    Please more Indonesians travel abroad and not only taking pics but also learn the cultures.

  2. avatar Ross says:

    All useful stuff.
    It would be good if somebody stopped the crap system of prices advertising that allows airlines to add ‘plus plus’ to visible fare offers. And not just flight prices.
    Hotel dinner offers, you name it, they have this disgusting and dishonest advertising, ++ which mystifies customers.

  3. avatar Laurence says:

    Just a note,

    If you book online, remember to delete all cookies and links to the airline pages as they remember your search and each time the price will increase.

  4. avatar Hans says:

    If you book online, remember to delete all cookies and links to the airline pages as they remember your search and each time the price will increase.
    use CCleaner http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download You can save all the cookies you want and get rid of any debris that spying.

  5. avatar ET says:

    Having said that, if you bring Rp cash travel agents and airlines’ ticket offices can charge a particularly crap exchange rate, perhaps as a secret/back-door way of increasing their profit margin. Garuda’s exchange rate of the day is usually on public display in their offices (good), and is about Rp500 below the official Bank Indonesia exchange mid-rate (not good, about Rp300 worse than a money changer).

    This exchange rate can be an unpleasant surprise indeed and I had already have to pay at a considerable worse exchange rate than what is mentioned above.
    However Garuda accepts cash payment in US$, but beware and read carefully this letter below from Bank Mandiri, Garuda’s banking partner. They don’t accept all notes and go as far as demanding only brandnew banknotes in pristine condition because they consider foreign currency a ‘marketable’ (memperjualbelikan) thing/commodity, something like a painting or lithograph you buy in an artshop.

    Nr. 8.Sp.DUY.CS/1056/04
    23 September 2004

    To
    The Airline Company
    Garuda Indonesia
    Local Agency in Denpasar
    Danau Tamblinganstreet 27
    Sanur – Denpasar

    Concerning: Refusal of US Dollar Banknote Deposits.

    Referring to your letter N° GARUDA/DM/2320/04 of September 22, 2004 concerning the refusal of US Dollar receipts we extend herewith several criteria on account of which US Dollar banknotes are refused by Bank Mandiri.

    1. Worn-out physical condition, torn, marked, stamped or folded.
    2. Edition (issue year) 1996
    3. Series N° CB

    Fact is that the reason for the refusal of the aforementioned banknotes has been caused in accordance with stipulations from Bank Indonesia stating that banknotes (foreign paper money) are not legal tender in Indonesia but are considered commodities/things which can be marketed. In this connection Bank Mandiri has become extremely selective as to the acceptance and the changing of banknotes in order to be able to market them in the future.

    Hoping for your understanding and thanking you for your attention and cooperation, we remain

    Yours faithfully

    PT. BANK MANDIRI (PERSERO) Tbk.
    Division Denpasar Udayana

  6. avatar Chris says:

    Good point ET,

    $US bank notes used for cash payment of international airline need to be 2006 series and pristine.

    That’s way there is a sign at the bank teller to check the amount and condition before leaving, and that complaints regarding banknote quality won’t be accepted after you’ve gone.

    On another topic, I previously wrote:

    Commonwealth Bank and HSBC have selected (not all) ATMs that dispense $US,

    Well, I asked Commonwealth Bank Customer Care for a list of which ATMs have $US, and they said:

    Please be informed that Commonwealth Bank provides all the ATMs with IDR and USD currency (exclude ATM Bersama and PRIMA Network). Please follow this link to find our ATMs Location: http://www.commbank.co.id/upublic/mod_home/default_content.aspx?code=S-ATM-VISA

    But I know from personal experience that that’s simply not true, so I replied and asked them to reconfirm their answer in light of this. Stay tuned…

    In the meantime, ATMs with $US say so, like this:

  7. avatar David says:

    $US bank notes used for cash payment of international airline need to be 2006 series and pristine.

    They have to be 2006? I know they have a terrible aversion to the year 1996 but they only take one year? 6 seems to have some significance here, I wonder which approach they will take with 2016 notes when the time comes.

    Ten years ago or so I paid USD at the Garuda office in Surabaya for a return flight to Australia, the guy who served me almost seemed to salivate over the cash as though he was going to pocket some of it which he may well have done, because when I tried to check in for the return flight in Australia, having forgotten to re-confirm, they said I had a ‘no rec’ ticket, I think she said ‘no rec’, which I guess means ‘no recognition’ or ‘not recognised’, meaning as far as they were concerned I wasn’t booked on that flight. They ended up finding me a seat on Qantas flight a few hours later which was rather lucky.

  8. avatar Chris says:

    Patung asked:

    They have to be 2006?

    They have to be the current series, which for $US100 is 2006. (I remember a few years ago they had to be “2003 or later” for $US100.)

    I have a few $US1 notes; some are 2006 and some are 2003 A. However, I don’t have any other denominations of $US, so I can’t be sure whether all $US banknotes are now 2006 series.

  9. avatar David says:

    Thanks I had no idea. Still on dollars, I once had a boss who owed me some and gave me 1996 vintage, I didn’t think to check the series or anything, had no idea it could be an issue at the time. A year or so later I now owed her some dollars, so I quite innocently just used some of the notes she’d given me, and she complained about it, said they were no good as 1996….the cheek of it.

  10. avatar Oigal says:

    What is the issue with 1996?

  11. avatar Chris says:

    Hi Oigal,

    I don’t think it’s about a certain year. Possibly bank notes that have already disappeared from circulation in the US (due to age/wear and tear), aren’t accepted as legal tender any more.

    =============

    By the way, I got an official list from Commonwealth Bank of ATMs that have USD. It’s a 2 page pdf file, and almost all of them are in Bali and Jakarta. One in Batam also has Singapore dollars, apparently. I don’t know how up to date it is, because one of the ATMs listed in Surabaya (Plaza BRI) disappeared with the branch six months ago. Anyway, maybe you can PM me if you want a copy.

  12. avatar Oigal says:

    No its ok, we have no issues getting hold of USD here, but thanks.

    aren’t accepted as legal tender any more.

    Is that true or is it just not accepted in Indonesia? My understanding was a USD bank note was always legal tender at least face value no matter still in general circulation or not with the possible exception of confederate dollars.

  13. avatar David says:

    Well no foreign currency is legal tender in Indonesia surely regardless of the series but in terms of exchanging currencies the problem with the 1996 ones is that supposedly due to their design there was massive counterfeiting of them and that’s why Indonesian banks are reluctant to take them as I guess they can’t be bothered verifying whether they are genuine. But in general, or US terms, there’s nothing wrong with them.

  14. avatar Chris says:

    Returning to the main topic of buying international tickets from/in Indonesia…

    While it will be impossible to keep track of every schedule change, I will do my best to add comments with significant schedule additions/deletions that are reported in the news.

    This one is taken from The Jakarta Post here:

    Batavia Air to serve Jeddah, add int’l routes
    JAKARTA: Private airline Batavia Air is set to launch Jakarta-Jeddah-Riyadh service starting on May 23, and expects flights to be 80 percent full.

    “We started accepting reservations today. We’re optimistic about reaching our target,” Batavia spokesman Eddy Haryanto said at a presentation Monday. For the new route, Batavia would use two Airbus A330-200s, each with 302 seats.

    The airline had leased the wide-body aircraft in 2009 but the Saudi Arabian aviation authority had issued flight permits only last week. Batavia would serve Jeddah daily, and fly to Riyadh on Mondays and Wednesdays, he said.

    The airline also planned to start services to Bangkok, Dhaka, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo later in 2010, Eddy said. “We are still processing permits for the new routes,” he added.

    The Seoul and Tokyo routes would use the Airbus 330-200, while Batavia would fly the 200-passenger, narrow-body Airbus A321 to Bangkok, Dhaka and Hong Kong.

    Batavia’s fleet of 39 aircraft currently serves 39 domestic airports, as well as international destinations Guangzhou, Kuching and Singapore. — JP

  15. avatar BrotherMouzone says:

    Well no foreign currency is legal tender in Indonesia surely regardless of the series but in terms of exchanging currencies the problem with the 1996 ones is that supposedly due to their design there was massive counterfeiting of them and that’s why Indonesian banks are reluctant to take them as I guess they can’t be bothered verifying whether they are genuine. But in general, or US terms, there’s nothing wrong with them.

    As I understand it, the regulations on dollars (mint condition, only certain serial numbers and years being accepted) were introduced during Suharto’s time to avoid people using dollars as a day-to-day currency.

    Only accepting mint condition notes at the banks meant that wealthy Chinese businessfolk couldn’t carry around wads of dollars in their wallets for fear of folding or damaging them. Rotating the acceptable serial numbers and years meant that people were unlikely to use dollars as their daily currency because they might be unable to bank them later on.

    It’s basically all a big con. And it has worked pretty well! (Sorry to stay off topic!)

  16. avatar Chris says:

    Soon Mandala will start to fly internationally too,, from Jakarta/Balikpapan to Singapore, Jakarta to Hong Kong and Jakarta to Macau, the Asian Las Vegas.

    See below for details, taken from Mandala’s website here:

    INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

    •SALE: May 11 – May 18, 2010
    •TRAVEL: June 25 – November 30, 2010

    PROMO FARES :

    •Jakarta – Singapore from IDR 99,000 net*
    •Balikpapan – Singapora from IDR 499,900 net*
    •Jakarta – Hongkong from IDR 899,900 net*
    •Jakarta – Macau from IDR 899,900 net*

    ROUTE :

    •Jakarta – Singapura 20.30 WIB
    •Balikpapan – Singapura 13.40 WITA
    •Jakarta – Hongkong 16.50 WIB
    •Jakarta – Macau 16.50 WIB

  17. avatar Oigal says:

    Outstanding….That will be fanatasic! Thanks for the info RD

  18. avatar David says:

    The Hong Kong one sounds great. Not that easy finding hotels for 2 adults and more than one kid as I’m finding out though.

  19. avatar Oigal says:

    Same anywhere Patung, contrary to the Blok M rumours, I spend more time hunting for suitable holiday accommodation for a large, young (them not me) family. Any good hints within Indonesia would always be helpful.

    Oh to be a Blok M barfly…life is so much simpler then 🙂

  20. avatar Chris says:

    Garuda now offers online booking and payment for international flights, too.

    Just go to their webpage http://www.garuda-indonesia.com/, click on the tab “International Flight”, then enter your desired locations and dates.

    It looks like someone just copied and pasted the code from the Thai Air website, but at least it works…

    Curiously, for schedule/timetable queries, you still have to use the normal “Domestic Flight” tab.

  21. avatar Chris says:

    Latest updates:

    – Malaysia Airlines now flies from Bandung to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    – Garuda now flies direct Jakarta-Tokyo (Japan) -Jakarta. (Previously you had to go via Denpasar on the Tokyo-Jakarta leg). More info here: http://www.garuda-indonesia.com/news/2010/08/12/garuda-indonesia-launches-direct-flight-jakarta-tokyo-jakarta

  22. avatar Lairedion says:

    Bandung desperately needs a new airport. It’s getting crowded over there.

  23. avatar Chris says:

    Latest update from Air Asia:

    AirAsia

    New direct flights from Surabaya to Penang & Bangkok!

    Booking Period : 29 September 2010 – 3 October 2010

    Travel Period : 7 November 2010 – 11 August 2011

    Fly from Juanda International Airport, Surabaya to:

    International All-in-fare from

    Malaysia
    Penang Rp 100.000
    Kuala Lumpur Rp 150.000 (*)

    Thailand
    Bangkok Rp 150.000

    Fly from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (LCC Terminal), Kuala Lumpur to:

    International All-in-fare from
    Indonesia
    Surabaya Rp 245.000 (*)

    Fly from Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok to:

    International All-in-fare from
    Indonesia
    Surabaya Rp 358.000

    Fly from Penang International Airport, Penang to:

    International All-in-fare from
    Indonesia
    Surabaya Rp 276.000

    Travel Notes
    – Advanced booking required.
    – Fares are not available during embargo period.

    * Fare applies to QZ 7617 and QZ 7618 flights only.

    Not form Surabaya? You can fly to Bangkok also from Denpasar (Bali) or Jakarta, and to Penang from Jakarta. For more information or to make a booking enquiry, go here

  24. avatar Chris says:

    Air Asia is now advertising a new route: Bali to Phuket. Or, as they say:

    Air Asia promo - Bali to Phuket

    From Paradise…To Paradise…
    Booking Period : 8 November 2010 – 18 November 2010

    Travel Period : 17 December 2010 – 10 November 2011

    Travel Notes
    – Advanced booking required.
    – Fares are not available during embargo period.

    Fly from Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali to:

    International All-in-fare from
    Phuket Rp 249.000

    Fly from Phuket International Airport, Phuket to:
    International All-in-fare from
    Bali Rp 468.000

  25. avatar Chris says:

    Air Asia is advertising a new route: Bali to Darwin

    Air Asia to Darwin

    Fares start at Rp349 000 one way, which make it a useful alternative (to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Dili, East Timor) for people needing to leave the country to get a new tourist visa.

    Booking Period : 24 November 2010 – 30 November 2010
    Travel Period : 23 December 2010 – 10 November 2011

    Travel Notes
    – Advanced booking required.
    – Fares are not available during embargo period.

    Here is the schedule:

    Flight No From To Depart Arrive Frequency
    QZ 8632 Bali Darwin 23:50 04:00 Daily
    QZ 8633 Darwin Bali 04:45 06:00 Daily

    For more detail, see here.

  26. avatar Chris says:

    Air Asia will commence flights between Medan and Bangkok on 15 January 2011, and between Medan and Hong Kong a day later, on 16 January 2011.

    New Route : Medan – Hong Kong!

    Booking Period : 1 December 2010 – 5 December 2010

    Travel Period : 16 January 2011 – 10 November 2011
    Travel Notes
    – Advanced booking required.
    – Fares are not available during embargo period

    Source #1, Source #2

  27. avatar Chris says:

    Air Asia Now Flying from Balikpapan to Kuala Lumpur.

    New! 4x Weekly flights

    Balikpapan – Kuala Lumpur from Rp88.000

    Book from 8 – 19 Dec 2010 | Travel from 12 Jan – 10 Nov 2011

  28. avatar Chris says:

    Batavia Air began flights between Denpasar/Bali and Dili on 27 December 2010.

    First flight welcoming party
    The official welcoming party for the first flight

    The schedule is:

    DENPASAR (DPS) TO DILI (DIL)
    Departs DPS: 07:00
    Arrives DIL: 09:40*

    DILI (DIL) TO DENPASAR (DPS)
    Departs DIL: 10:25*
    Arrives DPS: 11:05

    *Local time in Dili is one hour ahead of Denpasar.

    If you would like to make a booking enquiry, please click here.

  29. avatar Oigal says:

    More diseased UN staff for poor old Bali.. 🙁

    Bali now has the highest rates of sexually transmitted disease in Indonesia thanks to UN not requiring its staff from known high HIV rates to undergo blood tests before deployment.

    Of course, Dili fares no better, thanks to idiot religious Catholics Priests still mandating that wearing condoms is a sin.

  30. avatar Oigal says:

    Oh but Chris …keep up the good info, it has already come in handy for a few trips 🙂

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