We’re always on the look-out for ways to streamline business travel, and Garuda Indonesia’s inflight immigration service certainly ticks that box.
Currently available on Garuda flights to Jakarta from Sydney – along with Shanghai, Tokyo and Osaka – it’s the quickest way to both get your visa and scoot through Indonesian immigration.
For starters, you don’t need to visit the the Indonesian consulate in advance of your trip or queue up to get a visa on arrival at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta International Airport.
Under the ‘Immigration on Board’ service, which is currently exclusive to Garuda, you get your visa at the airport and are cleared by immigration officials during your flight.
It’s available to passengers in all travel classes and costs the same US$25 as if your visa was issued on the ground. Here’s how it works.
1. When you check in for your Garuda flight at Sydney or Melbourne airport, you pay around A$27 (adjusted to match the current exchange rate against US$25) to receive a ‘visa on arrival’ receipt.
Note that Garuda takes only cash payments and only correct change. If it’s not too busy the staff may break a larger note for you, otherwise you’ll need to hunt down the change.
This is one aspect of the scheme which needs to be improved, because few people would have an exact $27 rattling around. I have the feeling that even handing over $30 and saying “Keep the change” may be complicating things too much for the bureaucracy!
2. During your flight, complete the immigration forms on board when they’re handed out by Garuda’s cabin crew.
Once your flight leaves Australian airspace and enters international territory, two Indonesian immigration officers will work their through the plane, processing your immigration form and stamping your passport right there while you cruise at 30,000 feet enjoying a glass of whatever takes your fancy.
You’ll also receive a blue pass indicating you’ve been pre-cleared.
And yes, these are actual immigration officers employed by the Indonesian government – not outsourced contract staff – who have flown all the way to Australia to stamp your passport on the way back.
This must qualify as one of the most sought-after jobs in the immigration service!
3. On arrival at Soekarno Hatta International Airport, follow the signs to the ‘fast track’ immigration lane.
You may see many other travellers veering left for the Visa on Arrival counter, but just keep powering forward with that blue pre-clearance slip in hand.
When you get to the immigration counters, veer left to the overhead blue sign for the Saphire EiS-i Card lane, hand over your blue pass and you’re done.
How easy is that? We’d love to see more countries and airlines implementing a system like this.
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