What to expect for international departing flights from Jakarta

Howdy, folks. I am writing this as I sit in the Pura Indah Lounge– the business class lounge Japan Airlines uses– in Jakarta airport (CGK). The process for getting into the airport seems just a but different than most of the other airports I have been in, so I wanted to let you know what to expect. The process is very similar for domestic flights departing from Terminal 3, although I focus here specifically on international flights from Terminal 2.

When someone drops you off, you are free to enter an area of the airport pre-security and pre-check in. There are a few money changers, restaurants, and convenience stores in this area, but no real reason to hand out there. It is quite easy to hire a baggage porter curbside, which I elected to do since I was traveling with heavy luggage. These guys work for tips, but my guy seemed very happy when I gave him 100,000 rupiah (7 or 8 USD) for my two heavy bags.

You go to a security line before you get to the check in counter, and you are required to show identification and proof of a flight itinerary. The luggage porter was able to go with me through this step. Your luggage goes through an X-ray machine, and you go through a standard metal detector. This bit is a lot like security in the U.S., save that it happens to even get to the check-in counters and also involves your luggage.

I hired Jakarta Fast Track to help me through the airport. This was quite helpful in explaining to me what the next steps in the process were, and it also helped me get into a shorter line later. I met Erik from this service once I cleared security, and he walked me to the check in-counter. I had arrived at the airport too early to avoid the risks inherent in Jakarta traffic, and he was able to explain that the counter would not open until about two and a half hours before the flight. Fair enough. I waited for a few minutes and checked in without any issue.

From there is was off to immigration, and lines were fairly long. Except for me. Hiring an expediter let me use the diplomat’s line with no wait. I handed my passport to the immigration officer, he verified that I had not overstayed my welcome, stamped the passport, and off we went.

Up until this point, the airport had looked fairly dumpy. Once I cleared outbound immigration, Terminal 2 became much nicer. There is the standard range of duty free stores, restaurants, gift shops, and convenience stores that exist pretty much anywhere else in the world. There was also a money changer who offered perfectly fair rates for changing my remaining rupiah back to U.S. dollars, and she had no complaints about the random collection of noted I had.

On our way to the Pura Indah lounge, I noticed another set of metal detectors. Apparently, I will have to clear security again immediately before boarding the plane. Happily, only my hand luggage is still with me. However, that raises the tricky question of when to leave the lounge and go to the gate. There is one coffee shop and a lot of seats past these metals detectors, but that is pretty much it.

Observing that, Erik walked me to the lounge. It isn’t a great place, but I assembled a reasonable dinner, have a comfortable seat, and am using their wifi prior to boarding a business class JAL seat for an overnight flight to Japan. I took my leave of Erik here. The Jakarta airport is a nice enough facility which can certainly be navigated, but do be prepared for their unique procedures.

UPDATE: You can’t get to the coffee shop once you clear security, and in the final walkway to the boarding gate is yet another boarding pass check and manual bag check. All of the procedures were exceptionally polite and reasonably efficient as individual steps, but there was a lot of repetition in the process. I am now in what I assume to be the actual boarding lounge. Wifi is free. Happy travels!

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