Denied boarding to Jakarta due to 'damaged' passport | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Denied boarding to Jakarta due to 'damaged' passport

Cossie

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Some of you may have read bits of this in the chitchat thread. I hope my experience is of some use to others.

I was due due to fly on Qantas from Canberra to Jakarta on Monday the 8th of July. My flight from Canberra left at 11:15 and the flight from Sydney was leaving at 13:45, plenty of time to transit through Sydney. I then had a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on Qatar leaving just after midnight.

As my two trips had separate PNRs, my bags couldn't transferred straight through to my final destination, Amsterdam (even though both airlines are members of the One World Alliance) This meant I would have to clear Indonesian immigration collect my bag and check in later for the next leg.

If they had been on one PNR, the bag would have gone straight through to Amsterdam,and I would have been able to stay in the transit area of Jakarta airport.

First issue I had was that I was notified that my Canberra to Sydney flight had been delayed by 30 minutes, still time to get to international from domestic. Arrived at Canberra check in to be told there was a further delay and we wouldn't be boarding until 11:50, meaning I would have less than 40 minutes to transfer in Sydney, which is not normally possible.

At first there was consternation that I wouldn't make the Sydney flight due to that however I then explained that I had to be in Jakarta that evening to catch the Qatar flight.

Things changed, my passport was closely examined and it has a very minor tear, probably 2mm long and is coming apart at the seams by 2mm each side. I had never really noticed this.

I was then told that I would be refused entry to Indonesia because of this damage and that the Indonesians had become very finicky, especially in Bali. Interestingly it had been examined by immigration officials in at least 7 different countries, some several times this year alone, without any issues being raised.

Qatar became involved at this stage as they also had a flight departing directly from Canberra. It was discussed if it was possible to interline my bags on this one occasion, under no circumstances replied Qantas, pointing to the sign at the check in counter . The 40 minute transfer time in Sydney then also suddenly became more of an issue.

So I'm thinking Qantas took the easiest option for them and that was to deny me boarding, no worries with them having to find me passage to Jakarta, compounded by the fact that it was schools holidays, that could have problematic. They did say they could send me to any other city in Asia, besides Indonesia providing there was enough time to transfer and I could change my Qatar ticket to suit that scenario.

Phone call to Qatar reservations, yes that could be done at a price of around $3,000. I could go to Singapore or Bangkok or similar, but I would have possibly the same issue returning if I had to go through Indonesia. After further discussion I was told there was nothing more Qantas could do.

Qantas flight cancelled and a voucher issued, Qatar flight cancelled at a cost of $380 US.

Bottom line was new passport with an express fee, cancelled flights, lost prepaid, non refundable accommodation in Amsterdam and Stockholm, plus cancellation of 2 non refundable flight in Europe, total loss will be about $1500, which I believe is not claimable on my travel insurance as it was my fault for "Errors or omissions in any booking arrangements or failure to obtain relevant visa, passport or travel documents".

So new trip booked and Qantas is the big loser here, apart from me of course, :) as I have now booked a return ticket with Qatar direct to Europe and return from Canberra, bypassing Qantas, something that I will consider doing more in the future.

If the Indonesians are going to be so pedantic about this, you have to wonder what is in for them? After all, you would think they would be encouraging more tourists from here.

As I stated in the other thread, this makes me even more less likely to visit Indonesia and spend my hard earned money there, plenty of other nice places to visit!

I'm contemplating sending this or something similar to the SMH Travel section, anyone have further input or suggestions?


E & OE. :)
 
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Danger

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A few things.

First, I sympathise. It's not a nice situation.

Second, the baggage through-checking. Yes, oneworld isn't exactly one world anymore and Qantas is one of the carriers where this is especially true. That said, even if Qantas had done a nice thing and checked your bags through from CBR to AMS, a 40 minute domestic-international connection in SYD is uber tight. You may have made it; your bags probably wouldn't have, in which case you'd fine yourself in AMS being handballed between QR and QF as to who is responsible.

Third, putting the passport issue aside, you didn't leave yourself enough time in transit in SYD considering (a) you were on a separate ticket ex-CGK and (b) there is only one daily flight on QF SYD-CGK. If it was all on one ticket you would have been protected but separate tickets here meant you lose a big insurance policy (a figurative one, not your actual one).

Fourth, I'm not sure of the relevance of authorities in DPS apparently being especially strict, given you were travelling through CGK.

Fifth, I would let that insurance clause, apparently written in extraordinary large font, perturb you. From what you've describe, I don't your situation falls under that clause. Nonetheless, I would expect an insurance company to find a reason not pay out in this case anyway.
 

Cossie

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Cool, thanks for taking the time to read it and respond. The person at the check in counter in Canberra kept referring to Bali even though I was going to Jakarta. Also when I picked up the new passport today at Barton, the person there commented that Bali has been really strict of late, I showed her my old passport. that still makes me think they were putting it in the "too hard" box.
Thanks again.
 

Cossie

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It is a shame Qantas could not accommodate you by through checking bags on this occasion. You can vote with your wallent in future,
Exactly, but there is still the issue of the Canberra flight being delayed which meant I couldn't transfer in time. If they had notified me much earlier, I might have been able to have been on an earlier flight and therefore had no issue with transfer time in Sydney.
One thing I neglected to say was that a person last week was apparently refused entry into Bali after flying from Canberra because of a damaged passport, this person had apparently been checked in by one of the staff dealing with me, this was actually said to me by one of them, so I'm guessing they were really touchy about an issue like this. He said Qantas was fined $15,000 for letting that person on the plane.
 

MEL_Traveller

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Exactly, but there is still the issue of the Canberra flight being delayed which meant I couldn't transfer in time. If they had notified me much earlier, I might have been able to have been on an earlier flight and therefore had no issue with transfer time in Sydney.
One thing I neglected to say was that a person last week was apparently refused entry into Bali after flying from Canberra because of a damaged passport, this person had apparently been checked in by one of the staff dealing with me, this was actually said to me by one of them, so I'm guessing they were really touchy about an issue like this. He said Qantas was fined $15,000 for letting that person on the plane.
That might explain it. Dunno about the $15, that seems rather high (I have heard it's in the region of $5K?).

QF doesn't always handle IRROPS well.
 

33kft

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Sorry to hear of your story. It is fairly well known now that the Indonesians have been turning back visitors with damaged passports, and I have had enough experience with Indonesian immigration officials, who used to single out the Chinese (as in PRC passports) in our entourage of business travelers and demand they hand over US$100 for entry (this was not visa on demand stuff, this was into the hand of the official stuff), amongst other behaviours I've seen especially in the riau islands (bintan and batam) where payment issues will often occur and be solved by additional payments.

End of the day this can only hurt tourism to Indonesia. I avoid the place outside of work related travel simply because it on the one hand possesses little from a leisure travel perspective that I couldn't get elsewhere in SEA, and also mixes in a whole lot of anti-Australian sentiment, over the top bureaucracy if something goes wrong, and quite ordinary conditions from a traffic, safety and security perspective.

That's enough of a rant, but I did want to point out that the reason for airlines being hands off when it comes to passport issues in Indonesia is a fine (as you mentioned above) levied on each airline which delivers a passenger with a damaged passport. The fine is reportedly US$5,000 per passenger:


Had QF delivered you, they would have been fined this amount. They didn't do the easiest thing for them, they avoided a significant loss on a passenger booking. Sorry but it's hardly QF's policy in effect here.
 

trippin_the_rift

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As my two trips had separate PNRs, my bags couldn't transferred straight through to my final destination
You were lied to.


Qatar became involved at this stage as they also had a flight departing directly from Canberra. It was discussed if it was possible to interline my bags on this one occasion, under no circumstances replied Qantas, pointing to the sign at the check in counter . The 40 minute transfer time in Sydney then also suddenly became more of an issue.
Lied to again.

They did say they could send me to any other city in Asia, besides Indonesia providing there was enough time to transfer and I could change my Qatar ticket to suit that scenario.

Phone call to Qatar reservations, yes that could be done at a price of around $3,000. I could go to Singapore or Bangkok or similar, but I would have possibly the same issue returning if I had to go through Indonesia. After further discussion I was told there was nothing more Qantas could do.
Consider the following...

Could these scenarios designed to enrich the airline while putting blame on the passenger?
 

Cossie

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I was unaware of any issues with my passport being 'damaged', as I said previously, I have traveled extensively on it in the last 6 months. This year alone I had a Laotian visa and a Myanmar visa placed in it here in Canberra, Trips this year included showing my passport to immigration in Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, into the EU through Finland and of course to Qantas checkin for when I left on those trips. Also as I said, some visits were through immigration in some countries more than once.

If there was damage, I'm sure the Embassy of Laos and the Embassy of Myanmar would have refused to place a visa in it. Admittedly it may have become damaged at a later date, but I'm highly doubtful.

Anyway, I'm sure Qantas took their easiest option, as I also said earlier, one of the counter staff said they had let a person onto a flight ending in Indonesia and the airline was fined, and I quote "$15,000". They didn't have to get me to Jakarta, end of story for them.

I'm thinking of writing to Qantas loyalty as I'm a long standing WP :) but figure all I'll get will be the standard "we are sorry, but there is nothing we can do". I was also concerned if I did complain that there was the possibility of being 'flagged' in their system as being a trouble maker.

I would also like to point out this piece from the SBS link posted. It's from the official Passport Office website and I called that number asking if I could do as suggested:

"If you are unsure whether your passport's condition is good enough for travel, you should seek advice from the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232 or from an Australian diplomatic mission or consulate."

I presumed rather erroneously that I could present it here in Canberra at the Passport Office and be given a definitive answer as per the above wording. I was told on the phone that wasn't possible and it was best to apply for a new passport.

Also as pointed out previously I was flying into Jakarta and not Bali, which is where most the issues seem to have taken place.

So, I'm putting in a travel insurance claim, so we'll see what happens there.

We normally fly Qantas to South East Asia, business or economy, then stopover and pick up a Finnair, Qatar or Sri Lankan business flight to Europe, a couple of reasons, it's cheaper, we like to have a stop over there and back, and I don't like the idea of being on a plane for 14-15 hours straight.

This incident may change things and Qantas will loose, we can fly Singapore or Qatar from Canberra without having to use Qantas.

Also, as I said previously, I'm now going to Rally Finland, so it is not all bad.

Again, as I have said, why are they doing this? All the Indonseians seem to be doing is creating a great deal of ill will, granted it is their right to deny entry, but Indonesia will be added to the list of places that I will try avoid in future.

I have to add that I have also sent an abridged version of this to the editor of the SMH travel section.
 
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DC3

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Indonesia requires passports in (near) pristine condition. Some may be lucky with this, others not so lucky.

Edit: probably best described as “good” condition. Not worth taking chances with those well-worn passports.
 
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Cossie

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So in my opinion, it's indonesias loss, I haven't been there since the early eighties, this has added to my view that there is no reason to go there again, however nice Bali is, there are so many more places to go that actually value tourists visiting and contributing to the local economy.
Of course, YMMV.
 
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gregk

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Had a similar situation where my son's passport had a water damaged photo minor but noticeable. Qantas were very helpful. They immediately raised the issue and then photographed the passport and sent it to NZ immigration. They came back with denial of entry. Issue is caveat emptor - be responsible for maintaining your passport. You are blaming the airline when they have a legal responsibility not to fly you if you have a damaged passport as they will be fined and incur the cost of repatriating you if the foreign port refuses entry. Saying i got away with elsewhere is like saying i got away with speeding - eventually they get you!
 

clipped_wings

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I still put our family passports (all 8 of them) in the original plastic sleeves, before securing the lot of them in a zippered document wallet. It's a pain in the a*se, but to this day - a 10 year old, well-used passport looks like it did 10 years ago.

Sorry for your experience, but glad you had a happy outcome :)
 

Berlin

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That's the moral of the story.
No, the moral of the story is to avoid Indonesia at all cost. I think that all Qantas has done here is their duty to not allow a passenger with a slightly damaged passport board on a flight into a country that is notoriously bad with this. Lesson here- get new passports before traveling to slightly dodgy countries like Indonesia.
 

Lady London

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If the damage is really 2mm at top and bottom hinge of the passport then this is hardly visible. i's absurd.

Having said that it sounds as though the level of corruption has gone up in Indonesia - by government and possibly individuals looking for any flimsy excuse to make people visiting their country pay more at a time when they are vulnerable.

However Qantas was fully aware that they could have helped out their passenger by simply checking through the baggage to Europe and the passenger explained and requested this. Any sensible airline whose flights were on time would have agreed to do this.

However Qantas's flight was late and so they could see work for them getting you an alternative to Jakarta. This all looked bad to them.

Second fail: did the passenger mention Canberra had a direct flight to Jakarta that Qantas could have rerouted them on after Qantas's connecting flight was going to be late? If so there is on reason other than it being full, that should have stopped Qantas rerouting the passenger directly to Jakarta. Is that a second fail by Qantas?

FWIW my luggage has always been checked through by Qatar if I am flying OneWorkd on more than one ticket for my route. that's one reason I fly British Airways less. And one of the several reasons I really wouldn't fly Qantas if there's an alternative airline.

So the airline were miserable and horrible as there was an easy solution available even after they spotted the passport and even if that did make them vulnerable to corruption in Indonesia - they could have avoided the passenger having to go through Immigration at all in Indonesia just by checking luggage through which is not banned, it's perfectly possible even if not standard currently - so that's a fail.

however as noather poster pointed out, passenger did not help themselves by doing split ticketing on a route with only one connecting flight per day. Really? In that case you'd go the day before, at least.

Moral of the story is don't fly Qantas they will look after themselves and not make any small concession that costs them not much at all, to help a passenger.
 

Lady London

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PS Why has a photo of the "damaged" passport not been uploaded so we can all see what's being talked about here?
 

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