A step-by-step guide to missing your flight at the Jakarta airport

An entrance to Terminal 3 at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta Airport (Sarah Brafman/Indonesiaful)

An entrance to Terminal 3 at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport.(Sarah Brafman/Indonesiaful)

  1. Forget to order taxi to airport. Call three taxi companies at 11:45 a.m. when you want to be picked up at 1:30 p.m. only to be told that all the taxis are booked. Bring in the big guns – hit up every driver you’ve ever met. Begin to lose faith when every driver responds saying he has the day off, the first time you have ever received such a response from one driver, let alone five drivers.
  2. Make one last ditch effort to call another taxi company. Smile triumphantly when taxi company comes through and arrives on time (on time being five hours in advance in order to plan for anticipated Friday traffic).
  3. Start out to airport. Gaze out at a lovely clear sky. Proceed 10 km.  Cue torrential rain and flooding. Gasp when taxi driver hits motorcyclist.  Worry that you’ll have to stop and argue. Thank your lucky stars when motorcyclist waves you on, perturbed but apparently unharmed.
  4. Proceed to Bogor tunnel. Hit more traffic. Remain in traffic for the next three and a half hours. Start to make peace with the distinct possibility that you will miss your flight.
  5. Arrive at Terminal One with five minutes to spare. Regain hope of making your flight.
  6. Pay the taxi driver only to discover that you do not have enough money.  Dart to ATM. Stand in line fidgeting as people ahead of you proceed to conduct any and all possible business on the ATM. This includes but is not limited to bill paying, phone minutes renewal, cash withdrawal etc. Proceed to ATM and withdraw cash. Make sure to collect your ATM card (to avoid losing your ATM card for the second time in one month’s time). Pay the taxi driver and head to Terminal One five minutes past check-in time.  Prepare to plead with check-in counter person.
  7. Greet guard at entrance to terminal. Remain calm and friendly.  Prepare to hightail it to the counter only to hear those ill fated words, you’re at the wrong terminal.
  8. Stay calm. Summon the spirits and pray for a miracle. Attempt to take the airport shuttle only to discover that the next shuttle leaves in 20 minutes. Jump in the first cab you see. Greet the driver warmly. Act frazzled and appalled when he insists that the fee to get from Terminal One to Terminal Three will be IDR 50.000. Resign to your fate and stay in the cab as you realize you have no other options.
  9. Arrive at Terminal Three with ten minutes to spare until your flight. Attempt to plead with the check in counter. Fail. Attempt to book a later flight that night. Fail. Inquire about later flights with another airline in that terminal. Fail.
  10. Breathe. Remember that this trip is for leisure. Remember that you’re living in Indonesia and this is all in the spirit of adventure. Curse. A bit.
  11. Flag down yet another cab and proceed to Terminal Two. Since, after all, that’s the only terminal you have yet to visit. Proceed to yet another ticket office and inquire about tickets leaving for Bali tonight. Make a pained face when the sympathetic ticket agent offers you a $300 business class ticket. Decline.
  12. Persist. Ask if there are any other available tickets. Breathe a sigh of relief when you are offered a reasonably priced ticket leaving tonight. Waver about spending the extra money, reasonable as it may be. Succumb.
  13. Buy Starbucks. Skype Mom. Sit against a wall and write this guide. Don’t forget to check in.

About the author: Sarah Brafman is a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant based in Parung, West Java. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in history. Prior to living in Indonesia, she worked as a paralegal in the New York County District Attorney’s Office. Contact her at sarah.j.brafman@gmail.com.

2 thoughts on “A step-by-step guide to missing your flight at the Jakarta airport

  1. i’ve had similar panic experiences in thailand trying to get back to indonesia. peace corps ended up saving my butt. airport nightmares, we all learn! glad you made it to your final destination!

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