Category Archives: Banking

You’re Outta Here!

Plane Sailing (Part 2) – Tips for booking international flights from or in Indonesia.


If you thought booking a domestic flight in Indonesia was tricky, booking an international flight ticket can have even more traps for new players.

And tourist visa regulations stipulate that international visitors still need to have a ticket out of the country within the 30-day period too, regardless of whether they are wanting to renew their visa (for a 60-day stay), looking for work, etc.

The biggest issues are: Which currency? and Payment Method.

Which currency?

Almost all international flights have prices in $US/USD, not Rp/IDR.

However, there are some exceptions:

Air Asia logo Lion Air logo
You can book flights out of Indonesia on these airlines, and pay in Rupiah.

While many banks offer $US bank accounts, many people don’t have them due to e.g. large minimum account balances. Even those who do can find it difficult accessing the funds; while it seems every branch has a list of exchange rates/kurs (see below), very few actually hold stock of any foreign banknotes.

Exchange Rate Board
Exchange Rate Board

Commonwealth Bank and HSBC have selected (not all) ATMs that dispense $US, and that is only in multiples of $US100 up to $1000. (Not enough unless you are travelling alone and/or nearby).

Commonwealth Bank hsbc
Want to be Mr Dollar? Visit one of these banks’ ATMs.

Other banks require you to go to the branch, sometimes visit/phone ahead a day before, and sometimes you can only withdraw $US at the branch where you originally opened the account.

Having said that, if you bring Rp cash travel agents and airlines’ ticket offices can charge a particularly crap exchange rate, perhaps as a secret/back-door way of increasing their profit margin. Garuda‘s exchange rate of the day is usually on public display in their offices (good), and is about Rp500 below the official Bank Indonesia exchange mid-rate (not good, about Rp300 worse than a money changer).

The latest $US/Rp exchange rate
The Bank Indonesia Rp/$US exchange rate, for the last two weeks.
It updates itself automatically, so will remain current.

Another problem keenly felt sometimes is Rp is a volatile or less stable currency. If you only have Rp and the currency suddenly decreases in value against the $US (as happens from time to time), that international flight ticket suddenly gets a lot more expensive.

So you need to make your own judgment based on the factors above.

Payment Method

(i) Travel Agent
It can be difficult for expats to get a local credit card, so often they have to try to use their foreign one. However, if you use it at a travel agent (assuming they accept a foreign credit card; many don’t), you could pay double currency conversion fees: $US to Rp, and Rp to your card’s currency e.g. $A, $US, Euro, etc.

So, what is a way around this? You could pay with cash (whether $US or Rp), although this is less safe and requires a reliable moneychanger or helpful bank – both of which can be hard to find.

(ii) Online
While almost all travel agents in Indonesia prefer payment in cash (whether Rp or $US), buying online requires a credit card.

As mentioned above, almost all international airlines sell tickets in $US. If you’re an American with a credit card from back home, no problem. For everybody else, if you want to avoid losing out in currency conversion fees, you could try getting one of these:

American Express charge card
an American Express Charge Card

Not to be confused with their credit card, it is offered online and through their local agent Bank Danamon, and has a dual-currency billing function; i.e. you pay Rp transactions in Rp, and $US (or any other currency) transactions in $US. However, you have to be a permanent resident of Indonesia to get one, and I (on a KITAS) have applied and failed multiple times. The annual fee is relatively high also, starting at Rp650 000.


Another way is Jetabroad.

jetabroad
Jetabroad

For expats who still have a credit card from “back home”, it will let you buy tickets in one of Aussie/Canadian/Hong Kong/New Zealand/Singapore/US Dollars, British Pounds, Euros or South African Rand. So you will minimise/avoid hidden currency conversion charges.

In addition, unlike airline websites the credit cardholder doesn’t have to be a passenger, i.e. it will let you book and pay for somebody else’s ticket. This is really unusual these days, and very handy for people e.g. wanting to buy a ticket for their family to visit them. I have done this for a friend myself; they just called me first to verify that it was me who booked the ticket.

Plus, it will sometimes give you a multi-airline combination ticket that would not appear from a single airline’s website, and will let you purchase online tickets from airlines that don’t offer online booking e.g. Garuda international flights.

Of course, there are some limitations. It doesn’t have every airline, and none of the budget/low-cost ones. Flights that don’t depart on the dates selected – e.g. which only depart three days/week – don’t appear at all, so you have to fish around a bit to see whether changing the dates gives a cheaper fare, more direct flight, etc.

It may often turn out to be a little more expensive than buying from an airline’s website, but it gives a good general starting guide.


So where do you want to go on your next holiday? Look at the general guide below – direct flights only – correct as at May 2010:

I want to go to: I am coming from: Possible Airlines
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Jakarta Etihad
Adelaide, Australia Denpasar Pacific Blue
Amsterdam, the Netherlands Denpasar
Jakarta
KLM
Garuda, KLM
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Jakarta
Surabaya
Royal Brunei
Royal Brunei
Bangkok, Thailand Denpasar
Jakarta
Air Asia, Thai Airlines
Air Asia, Garuda, Thai Airlines
Beijing, China Jakarta Air China, Garuda
Brisbane, Australia Denpasar Jetstar, Pacific Blue
Dammam, Saudia Arabia Jakarta Garuda
Darwin, Australia Denpasar Jetstar
Dili, East Timor Denpasar Batavia Air, Merpati
Doha, Qatar Jakarta
Denpasar
Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways
Dubai, United Arab Emirates Jakarta Emirates, Garuda
Frankfurt, Germany Jakarta Lufthansa
Guangzhou, China Denpasar
Jakarta
Shenzhen Airlines
Batavia Air, China Southern, Garuda
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Jakarta Air Asia, Lion Air
Hong Kong, China Denpasar
Jakarta
Surabaya
Cathay Pacific, Garuda
Cathay Pacific, Garuda
Cathay Pacific, Garuda
Istanbul, Turkey Jakarta Turkish Airlines
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Jakarta Garuda, Lion Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines
Johor Bahru, Malaysia Jakarta Air Asia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Banda Aceh
Bandung
Denpasar
Jakarta
Lombok
Makassar
Medan
Padang
Pekanbaru
Solo
Surabaya
Yogyakarta
Air Asia
Air Asia
Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines
Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines
Merpati
Air Asia
Malaysia Airlines
Air Asia
Air Asia
Air Asia
Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines, Merpati
Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines
Kuwait City, Kuwait Jakarta Kuwait Airlines
Manila, Phillipines Jakarta Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air

Melbourne, Australia Denpasar
Jakarta
Garuda, Jetstar, Pacific Blue
Garuda
Nagoya, Japan Denpasar Garuda
Osaka, Japan Denpasar Garuda
Penang, Malaysia Banda Aceh
Jakarta
Medan
Firefly
Air Asia
Air Asia, Firefly, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air

Perth, Australia Denpasar
Jakarta
Air Asia, Garuda, Jetstar, Pacific Blue
Garuda, Jetstar
Phuket, Thailand Jakarta
Medan
Air Asia
Air Asia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Jakarta Garuda, Lion Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines
Sana’a, Yemen Jakarta Yemenia
Seoul, South Korea Denpasar
Jakarta
Korean Air
Korean Air

Shanghai, China Denpasar
Jakarta
Shanghai Airlines
China Southern, Garuda
Singapore Bandung
Denpasar

Jakarta

Lombok
Medan
Padang
Palembang
Pontianak
Semarang
Solo
Surabaya

Yogyakarta

BDG: Air Asia
DPS: Air Asia, Garuda, Singapore Airlines, Valuair/Jetstar
JKT: Air Asia, Batavia Air, Garuda, Lion Air, Singapore Airlines, Tiger Airways, Valuair/Jetstar
LOM: Silk Air
MES: Silk Air, Valuair/Jetstar
PDG: Tiger Airways
PAL: Silk Air
PON: Batavia Air
SEM: Batavia Air, Garuda
SOL: Silk Air
SUB: China Airlines, Silk Air, Valuair/Jetstar
YOG: Air Asia
Sydney, Australia Denpasar
Jakarta
Garuda, Jetstar, Pacific Blue
Garuda, Qantas
Taipei, Taiwan Denpasar
Jakarta
Surabaya
Eva Air, China Airlines
Eva Air, China Airlines
Eva Air, China Airlines
Tokyo, Japan Denpasar
Jakarta
Garuda, Japan Airlines
Garuda, Japan Airlines

Do you have any other tips you would like to share (or questions you’d like to ask) about buying international flight tickets in/from Indonesia? Please add them with a comment below.

You’re Outta Here! is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, which also features listings of Indonesia hotels, like Kuta hotels, Ubud hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Bank Century Bailout Scandal

Bank CenturyCenturygate scandal, Boediono & Mulyani under pressure, SBY sees dire threats to his good self.

BoedionoThe long troubled PT Bank Century (now PT Bank Mutiara), once the country’s 13th largest bank, in late October 2008 defaulted on several large loan payments and was declared insolvent by the Financial Sector Stability Committee (Komite Stabilitas Sektor Keuangan (KSSK)), which was led by Finance Minister Sri Mulyani and included then BI Governor now vice president Boediono. It had been under supervision by Bank Indonesia (BI) since 2005.

Boediono’s declaration at the time that the bank’s financial weakness now

posed a systemic threat to the banking system

was the key factor in Bank Century thereafter being taken over by the Deposit Insurance Agency (LPS) and a series of massive injections of state funds into it proceeding, totalling 6.7 trillion rupiah or almost $700 million, over a period of nine months. Minister Sri Mulyani concurred with the BI Governor’s judgement.

Sri MulyaniAs the parliament became aware of the scale of the bailout in mid 2009 its Commission XI for financial affairs held hearings with Mulyani and BI senior deputy governor Darmin Nasution, and soon ordered the Supreme Audit Agency (Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan (BPK)) to launch an investigation.

The scandal that has become known as “Centurygate” revolves around not only the massive drain on state funds involved, but questions of whether some depositors (such as tycoon Boedi Sampoerna) had preferential treatment or access to their funds after the bailout money had been injected, and whether some of the money was diverted and embezzled.

SBYPresently a parliamentary enquiry named “Panitia Khusus Centurygate” (Pansus Centurygate) is underway, and much politically inspired rhetoric has emanated from it, with some calling for the dismissal of Mulyani and vice-president Boediono over their involvement in the case, and even their impeachment.

Meanwhile President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), who retrospectively approves of the bailout as a sound financial decision, has been accused of being weak in handling the fallout from the affair and is becoming increasingly ‘testy’ and bad-tempered about the matter. A planned mass demonstration on 9th December to mark International Anti-Corruption Day has had the president vocally worrying that there are those who wish to topple him, and warning against any repeat of the May 1998 riots in Jakarta.

Bank Century Bailout Scandal is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, which also features listings of Indonesia hotels, special discounts on Bali hotels, Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.