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German Blogger Attracts Ire Criticising Immigration Queues at Bali Airport

German blogger Bali airport
German Blogger Attracts Ire Criticising Immigration Queues. at Bali Airport. photo bali airport archive.

A German blogger has been caught up in an online controversy about immigration waiting times at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali.

After arriving in Bali from Bangkok on Friday 29th July, Sebastian Powell posted a blog to Loyalty Lounge bemoaning the state of the queues for immigration at the airport. “People waiting for several hours in the immigration line at Denpasar Bali Airport,” he exclaimed in the opening paragraph.

He went on to acknowledge, “While I had pre-booked an arrival concierge service as I was warned about this situation, others got caught in the process, and they were close to a breakdown after over five hours of standing in line.”

This claim of up to five hours of queuing and statements like “It was horrific” and “Who thinks this is even remotely acceptable for a tourist destination?” drew anger from the online community in Indonesia.

By Sunday 31st July, a second blog appeared from Powell on the same site. This time, he had talked with Immigration and Government Authorities from Bali airport, who he described as “approachable”.

In a meeting with The Head of Immigration, Officer Rachmad, Powell was furnished with data to help him and his readers understand the challenges faced at DPS since reopening for international arrivals after the pandemic.

Rachmad explained that on the Friday in question, there were a total of 8,924 international arrivals. The first flight landed at 7.57am and the last one at 11.55pm local Bali time. Of the 32 immigration counters at the airport, 6 have been closed for renovations and are now reopened.

He went on to say that the reports of five-hour long queues were hearsay and that he didn’t see any clear evidence from anyone to confirm that wait time. He acknowledged that his time in the airport totalled 1 hour 3 minutes.  

On the same day, strong statements came from immigration officials in Bali. “At the time of the incident, the person concerned did not experience what he said in his blog. Based on the track record we followed from the CCTV provided by Angkasa Pura, from the time he got off the plane and left the immigration counter it took 53 minutes,” the Head of the Regional Office of the Bali Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Anggiat Napitupulu, said at a press conference in Jakarta on Sunday.

We give Sebastian a warning that he holds a 30-day visa on arrival (VoA), we ask him before 30 days to leave Bali or Indonesian territory,” Anggiat urged.

Bali’s Deputy Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, or Cok Ace, made an inspection at Ngurah Rai Airport, Sunday night. “Indeed, the passenger’s luggage seems to take a long time to process, between 30 minutes to 1 hour. But I have asked and hope that the process of waiting for luggage can be accelerated. This is not anyone’s fault, but the mechanism is like that,” he explained.

The situation at Bali’s airport has now been acknowledged, and the status of Powell is not currently known. 

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