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I have gone on the record that Indonesia is my least favorite country to travel, however that my last visit was cathartic and I was feeling better. Then I started planning this next trip and it all came back. There is really no excuse for a major country with a massive tourist industry to not function on the most basic tasks of travel. Yes, those fly in, plop yourself at Bali resort, then fly out trips are great. Traveling the country is vastly different, an experience where you almost want to give in to one rickshaw/tuk tuk driver just to keep the others from hassling you as you walk down the street.
(Note: to be clear, I am speaking specifically to the travel experience from a number of trips around the country. Entirely different to consider are the people of the country, living in the country, doing business in it, etc. I certainly enjoy hanging out with Indonesian friends removed from the travel hustle. I am only saying it is my least favorite country for the travel experience.)
This trip is only to cross off my final two Indonesia stops for Travelers Century Club: Maluku and West Papua. First I battled Air France for award tickets on Garuda. That sometimes works, sometimes not. It seems Garuda’s routing rules for published fares are extremely limited. Much of what Air France sees as connecting itineraries in fact cannot be booked with Garuda itself as paid tickets.
I moved on to buying paid tickets. Credit card fraud in Indonesia must be massive. Try booking anything Indonesia online and your credit card company is sure to block. I had Citi block my cards 5 times before they allowed me to transact. Then, of course, Indonesian airlines and OTAs routinely block foreign cards and may not bother to tell you it is a hopeless effort. It is confusing because they splash MasterCard and Visa logos everywhere, but that is only relevant for local cards and perhaps those issued from some Asian countries.
Here’s a summary:
- Garuda Indonesia website accepts foreign cards
- Air Asia website accepts foreign cards
- Sriwijaya will take the reservation on hold, then you need to contact their customer service to process the transaction
- Lion Air website rejects foreign cards and tells you nothing
- Most international OTAs do not list Indonesia flights, those that do have a huge markup
- Tiket blocks foreign cards unless you whitelist a card by sending unsecure photos of your passport and card (you only find this out through support chat)
- traveloka blocks foreign cards and a ticket is opened that you might hear back in 24 hours
- nusatrip accepts foreign cards without hassle – whaaaat? The prices are in line with the airlines and OTAs, too!