When I was helping Singapore’s IMC Pan Asia Alliance to develop its palm oil business in Indonesia, I had to travel to the country often. I even stationed myself in Jakarta for a couple of months. We were facilitated with an apartment near our office at Kuningan, one of the up-market precincts in Jakarta. Jakarta’s international airport was not great, but adequate. The traffic to and fro could be nightmarish, though. It could take hours.
I didn’t know their new international airport was ready when I flew in a couple of weeks ago. It is actually not a new airport but a new terminal arising out of organic needs.
The distance from the gate to the Immigration hall seems endless. Fortunately, being amongst the first to disembark - thanks to my B class ticket - I was offered a ride in one of the carriages stationed halfway along the route.
Everything is confusing once you step out!
Traffic was quite chaotic. On seeing some vehicles bearing top hotels’ logos, I asked if there was one from Grand Hyatt. Yes, but the fare was totally exorbitant. I decided to book a limo at Blue Bird’s booth. The receptionists were very courteous, but the system seemed silly. Those who came after me got driven off first. They apologized and smiled a lot but were quite clueless.
I didn’t realise that the new terminal is such a beast until I checked in to fly back the next day!
The terminal is massive. I dare say not much thought has been put in to design the terminal.
It is totally LINEAR.
I had no issues with the check-in arrangements. But one must walk past many many shops, kiosks and eateries before one reaches the Immigration hall. And after clearing Immigration, another long journey begins. I flew MAS and it offers its B class passengers to use a lounge which is located at almost one end of the terminal. The linearity was shocking; all the gates are on one side. From one end to the other, the new terminal must be more than a kilometer long.
And the local products are expensive! A modest box of Indonesia’s very popular “thousand-layered” cake costs something like USD20!
One thing, Indonesians are generally very patient; they don’t seem to complain.