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Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta “supposedly” international airport

There were some details that I forgot to include in my previous post about that trip to Singapore. It has to do with Jakarta’s international airport, Soekarno Hatta. A series of unfortunate events you might say, or in this case, unanticipated by airport authorities, causing annoyances to prospective passengers.

Try and imagine another international airport who’d have service like this:

Most Indonesians probably know that you have to fill in a “Departure Card” after check-in before going to the immigration counter. Unfortunately, there is NO such information anywhere for those who don’t know this. Beginning from entering the passengers area, the check in counter, the fiscal check, and even up to the line-up to meet the immigration officer. No signs, no notices, and no cards to be seen anywhere (you’d think if this was mandatory they’d make it easier for people to see and fill in these items).

I haven’t departed from Jakarta for awhile, and didn’t remember this rule. So, I got through check in, fiscal check, and lined up for quite awhile before I found this out. Shouldn’t there be at least some cards available from the immigratoin officer to fill in on the spot? Noooo way, the officer said it’s the check in counter who’s supposed to have these cards, so we have to walk all the way back to the counters and re-line up after filling in the cards.

So I go to the nearest check in counter and ask for a Departure card from the guy behind the desk. He says that the cards are tailored to each individual airline and we’d have to get ours from where we checked in, which was near the end of the building. I’m a bit sceptical, but decide to follow his instructions. Mid-way through the walk, I see an international airline counter, and think, “hey, why would they tailor each card to each airline? it makes no sense, since the card itself asks for a flight number, and the card is marked ‘Republic of Indonesia’, not ‘Airline Republic A’”; so I ask the person behind this counter, and of course was told the cards are all the same. *sigh, just remembering this makes me pity the customer service knowledge and skills of those people behind the counter*.

Well, you’d think that’s all that went wrong in one night right? Wrong!!!. After lining up the second time and getting through immigration, we walk all the way to the gate printed on our boarding passes. It turns out the gate has been changed to the one right beside it. We can see some people who have already entered the passenger waiting areas after going through baggage and personal screening. Quite a huge lineup, so me and my friend just chat while the line moves forward slowly.

Suddenly, the line just stops moving and people are kept waiting. Then, the officer at the front of the line said that the gate was changed, and everybody, including those who’ve already been screened would have to go to another gate and line up again, because the plane would park at another gate (wth??? can’t they just organise themselves???). So off we go to the new gate, and voila !!! no security, no officers and nobody at the screening area at the new gate. Passengers are just left to stare around for up to 15 minutes before they finally came around and started the screening process.

I just can’t believe how disorganized Jakarta’s airport is, considering that 2008 is supposed to be Visit Indonesia Year (side commentary: check out this snafu by those smart people making that promotion, a case of “we don’t proofread our globally targeted campaigns” – it’s mind boggling that a country’s ministry wouldn’t have at least some competent people who’d be able to correct grammatical errors before it gets plastered on the national carrier planes all over. That would make quite an impression on foreigners, “look, a country whose English knowledge is so bad they actually allow grammatically challenged phrases to be pasted on their airplanes. We’ll definitely have to visit that country”.)

So there goes my rant about Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta international airport. I just hope that the people in charge do something about making it a real “international” standard airport because it’s quite embarassing to see in the state it is right now.

 

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Singapore after more than 15 years

The last time I went to visit Singapore (not counting transits) was probably more than 15 years ago (I can’t remember exactly when), because either the MRT wasn’t built or it was just finished. In any case, it was a long long time ago :).

Last week, I had the chance to go there for a couple of days, and I must say it’s quite a nice place to visit. Clean air, little traffic, modern, good public transportation, and organized. I only had a little time to go around and sightsee, but managed to go to Suntec City, VivoCity, and along Orchard Road for a bit (I like malls :)).

I’ve heard quite a few of my friends, who’ve actually stayed in Singapore, say that after awhile you do get bored with life there, but for the few days I was there, I really felt if I had to live in Singapore, I wouldn’t mind it at all. Granted, Singaporeans do work like crazy (so I’ve heard), and property cost is off the roof, but should push come to shove and a really good opportunity presented itself, I think I wouldn’t mind trading Jakarta’s pollution and traffic for such a life.