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An Indonesian visa with Garuda

Luc Citrinot, eTN  Aug 11, 2010

JAKARTA (eTN) - The two young Indonesian men sitting in the departure lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol airport look rather serious and not very excited to fly, in contrary to other Indonesian passengers. They are dressed in a kind of uniform looking like some official representatives on travel duty. And, in fact, they are. Approximately two hours prior to final approach into Jakarta Sukarno Hatta International Airport, the two men start to process with the visa clearance on board for foreign passengers. The service is one of Garuda’s new features to facilitate passengers coming into Indonesia. And it is part of the “Garuda Experience,” which is the way the airline has redefined its service on board to give its passengers a better sense of Indonesia’s sense of welcome and hospitality.

First tested on Garuda’s flights from Tokyo to Denpasar and Jakarta, the visa on arrival is now available from Amsterdam and Dubai to Jakarta. The “Immigration on Board” facility has been put in place to minimize waiting time on the ground with the visa procedure including long queues at both Jakarta and Bali airport to pay for the visa fee. Despite increasing the number of counters at both airports, immigration procedures worsened over the last year due to stricter control measures including the scanning of all ten finger prints before entering the country. It means that for most visitors to Indonesia, they have to queue twice, once to purchase the US$25 fee visa and then for the immigration.

Foreign travelers desiring to enjoy the facility can purchase “visa on arrival” vouchers available at Garuda Indonesia check-in counters at Tokyo, Amsterdam, or Dubai prior to departure. On board, passengers receive then a special card that must be returned to ground immigration officers upon arrival in Bali or Jakarta. The service has so far been a success, and Garuda plans to introduce it to more routes. Next to enjoy the service will be Seoul.

Meanwhile, tour operators in Bali are asking the government to introduce visa online facilities in a move to ease long queues at immigration counters. The demand was done earlier this year by the chairman of the Indonesia Tour and Travel Agencies for Bali. "As people become more technologically savvy, it would be better to implement an online visa payment system so there wouldn't be a need for applicants to queue at the airport," explained Aloysius Purwa, chairman of the Bali chapter of the AITTA. Long queues at airports to get a visa are among the top complaints by foreign travelers.

An Indonesian visa with Garuda
Jakarta International Airport / photo by Luc Citrinot

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