Our three interactions with the airports in Bali and Lombok were probably the most frustrating of our trip.
Arrival in Bali and connection to Lombok
After a lovely first class flight and another four-hour connection we landed at the Denpasar airport a bit late after a tower delay in Hong Kong. We dashed off the plane to the visa payment line and then saw the looong passport control line. It only took about 40 minutes to get through, not terrible considering the lines, but we had a tight connection for our flight to Lombok on a different airline.
Thankfully, our bags were already on the carousel so we grabbed them and raced to the domestic side of the terminal after passing through two baggage screening stations (basically a choke point for people with carts full of luggage). From this point on it was more or less chaos. The domestic side was under renovation, so most airlines had temporary check-in desks and people standing around all over the place. We stood in line for a bit at Lion Air (as printed on our voucher) but then realized our flight was operated by Wings Air so switched lines but time was ticking away and it was taking 10-15 minutes to check each customer/group in. I finally found a free staff person and asked if we were going to make the 4:50 flight (it was 4:20 at this point) and after much conferencing we were told we had missed the check-in window. Several other folks seemed to face similar issues around us.
I then asked about the next flight and after another 10 minutes of conferencing with our flight vouchers in hand, we were told that flight was full. Of course.
At this point two employees from Wings Air took pity on us and told us (in very broken English) they were going to do the best they could to get us on a flight out tonight but it might not be with them and regardless, we would have to buy new tickets. Considering we had missed the cancellation time for our hotel on Lombok we were facing lost cash regardless. We sat for over 20 minutes frantically researching hotels in the area and discussed scenarios if it turned out that we couldn’t get out that evening.
After what seemed like forever, they finally they came back with the news that Garuda Indonesia had a flight at 6:50pm with space and we could buy new tickets to the tune of $42 each. The pair escorted us over to the payment window and helped us through the process. At least they accepted credit cards as we had no Indonesian rupiahs (ATMs are outside the first secure zone). Lots of paperwork but at least we had a new voucher for a flight out that night!
The next step was going to a check-in desk to trade the voucher for actual tickets. The good news was there was no line and our checked bag at 20kg did not incur any extra luggage fees. Additionally, we had already paid the departure fee through the Garuda ticket so we did not have to queue in yet another line.
We figured we had lost the money we paid for the original tickets but as we were waiting at the gate, the Wings Air employee who helped us find alternate tickets surprised us with a 10% refund of the ticket price. Better than nothing and I was impressed that he took the time to track us down for $9.
Random notes: the free airport WiFi was fast; lots of people had carts of luggage, most filled with cardboard boxes.
Lombok to Bali
Flying a budget airline like Wings Air means paying silly extra fees. For example, we carried on our small rollerboard on Garuda but the Wings Air lady made us check it, which, of course, put us over the weight limit. So, I had to go to a different window and pay about $6 for a receipt that I could exchange for my boarding passes. Next stop was the exit fees for the island (once again, did not have to pay anything extra with Garuda) which was another $8. Several stickers and stapled items on my boarding pass later we were allowed to enter the holding pen area.
Once in the secure area (about a half hour before we were to board), they announced a delay of almost two hours and we never really found out why. At least there were open charger boxes I could use to top off my phone and staff passed out boxes with water and a chocolate banana pastry inside.
I did not look forward to being back in the Denpasar domestic airport and the baggage claim was probably the worst part of the airport: under construction, dim lighting and terrible bathrooms. I actually witnessed a woman taking a diaper off a child and that child then squatting to pee in the doorway of one of the stalls. Considering every stall has a wet floor I was not thrilled with this visual. Thankfully we found our driver and made our way out of the airport.
Upon leaving Indonesia, we were (thankfully) warned by the hotel that a 200,000 ($~17) departure fee would need to be paid in cash upon leaving. Of course. Check in at the airport was smooth but, once again, the bathrooms had no toilet paper (holders were empty in EVERY stall) and the ‘premier’ lounge turned out to be a noisy temporary holding pen on the departure level. Just to add to the fun, our flight to Hong Kong was delayed over two hours due to a staff timing issue so we had no time for the lovely First Class lounge before our next flight. Boo.
I will not miss DPS airport!