You’re Outta Here!

May 7th, 2010, in 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 Chris says:

    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.

    Actually, I thought it was Papua:

    http://www.indonesiamatters.com/12089/hiv-aids-papua/

    (However, Bali is #2).

    I read somewhere else it was Indonesian soldiers’ frequent use of prostitutes and reluctance to use condoms that was the biggest contributing factor to Papua being #1. NB It is Indonesian soldiers from other parts of Indonesia.

  2. avatar Oigal says:

    Hi Chris, I have read that personally I think that’s a pretty dodgy figure built up as part of the painting Papuan’s as backward, dirty people by the Government. I have been to Papua and there is just not the numbers in the cities to compare with Bali

  3. avatar Chris says:

    I tried to find another source of information.

    Here is one:

    West Papuans suffer the poorest health standards of any Indonesian citizens and receive the lowest level of health care. In the highlands, with a population of over 400,000 people there is only one hospital with 70 beds. There are only 15 other health centres where a doctor is supposedly in attendance. Infant mortality rates, as reported by AusAid, are 98 per 100,000 in the highlands region (compared to the Indonesian average of 40 per 100,000), although other reports have put this figure as high as 250 per 100,000. The life expectancy of women is only 50.3 years compared to an Indonesian national average of 62.7 years. A relatively new looming problem for the Papuans is HIV/AIDS. For example the combined HIV/AIDS rate in 2002 was 40 times higher than the Indonesian average. A recent AusAid study found that, on current projections, over seven per cent of West Papuans will have the disease by 2025. The health and fertility challenges that West Papuans face are only growing worse.

    There is also this:

    http://www.insideindonesia.org/edition-82/logging-soldiers-and-sex

  4. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Cholera occurred for the first time in Papua during the UNTEA period. It was thought that this had been brought by the foreign troops – either the Indonesian infiltrators (who, under the terms of the “Bunker Agreement” were allowed to stay – and surreptitiously augmented) or the official Peacekeepers viz. the Pakistani.

    In retrospect it appears to have been only the first of the disasters as far as public health is concerned (not to speak of the other ones) that “pembebasan” had in store for them.

  5. avatar Chris says:

    All Nippon Airways commenced flights between Tokyo and Jakarta last week.

    To make a booking, click here

    ANA

Comment on “You’re Outta Here!”.

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