The vast expanses of Indonesia and the ocean filled spaces between SE Asian countries make flying a necessity for long distance travel. It is no wonder then that Jakarta’s main airport processes the title of 8th busiest airport in the world, hosts 62 million passengers annually and is the busiest airport in the Southern Hemisphere.
It is without a doubt a place that leaves us with mixed reviews. Things were functional but the layout is chaotic and overcrowded. Workers certainly performed their duties, arrival and departure passed without any major incidents and staff were helpful when we needed directions to the free terminal bus, money changing in various currencies was acceptable without commission and baggage arrived on time.
What can be said of the airport overall is that it is chaotic and overcrowded. It is also a mix and match of various building styles and projects undertaken at different times. One will find a boring concrete structure in the Terminal 2 departures area. Other places have beautiful architecture that features unique gardens and typical wood, glass, stone and structures familiar to tropical style and it looks particularly Indonesian. Terminal 3 is a nice and modern look overall, but it is overcrowded and a bit sterile.
The general overflow is being fixed by ongoing expansion, but in the meantime the system of lines for immigration, check in and visa purchase are long and sometimes disorganized.
Free Bus connecting Terminals:
Handily for passengers switching terminals is the free bus in place outside each arrivals area that connects all three terminals. The bus is clearly marked as is its pick up and drop off points. It makes several stops in each terminal so that one can get as close to a proper drop off as possible. However the process can be slow and the conditions on the bus cramped as it fills up with passengers. If you are not sure of exactly which drop off point you need sit towards the front of the bus so that you can hear the driver call it out. If you are in a real rush a taxi would be the fastest way to get from one terminal to the other, otherwise it can take around 25 minutes for a complete loop.
Airport transit services to the city:
When coming out of the airport for the first time the experience can be overwhelming. Getting to the city can be found in more detail here. It is recommended to have a hotel pickup already scheduled or the use of a taxi company like blue bird or silver bird. There is a rather slow public bus which proceeds to the downtown terminal but only use this if you are staying near the terminal and have lots of time on your hands. Depending on which official car service/taxi you choose you can pay anywhere from 13 USD-40USD to the city center. Once outside be sure and get in line for the right company, illegal taxi companies will try to wear similar colors and get you into their cabs. Go where an official carpet and signage show your taxi waiting.