Monday, April 12, 2010

By the way: Is Changi better than Jakarta airport? Not really

Sun, 04/11/2010

Singapore's Changi airport is no better than the Jakarta airport.
"What? Are you kidding?" might be the first thing you think on reading the above eight-word heading.
"Are you saying Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta is better than Singapore Changi Airport, which has a reputation for being one of the best airports in the world?"
I hate Jakarta airport for its discrimination against migrant workers, forcing them to use the lousy Terminal 3, where they are rudely treated and extorted. I am also concerned over the lack of security at the airport, which allows "rats" to steal valuables from passengers' luggage. And I don't like being welcomed at the arrival hall by all those pushy men, persistently offering their (illegal) taxis.
I used to admire Changi airport a lot, and wished Jakarta could have such a great airport.
But my last two visits to Singapore early this year opened my eyes. In a way, Jakarta is even better than Changi.
In the past year I traveled a lot to Singapore to see my oncologist. Yes, I have cancer, but it doesn't have me. Despite the disease, I am still active and productive.
Sometimes I even travel alone to Singapore, leaving home at dawn and returning to Jakarta with the last flight.
In February, when I was queuing to check in at Soekarno-Hatta airport, an officer of my budget airline greeted me warmly and asked politely, "Do you need a wheelchair?"
I am not crippled. But I have weakness in my right leg, which makes it hard for me to walk fast. I used to blame cancer for the limp until my oncologist found out last month that it might have been caused by something else. .
I was really grateful to be offered the wheelchair because I was in pain at the time. To my surprise, I was treated like a queen. The friendly officer quickly filled in my immigration card, had my NPWP (tax registration number) validated (so that I did not need to pay the Rp 2.5 million exit tax) and helped me get through customs. And then he took me to the gate where I was to wait for boarding.
In less than two hours, I landed in Singapore. At the airport, I noticed that the travolators were not functioning. As I walked a bit further, I began to feel pain in my right leg.
So I approached two airport officers standing on guard, and asked if they had a wheelchair service.
"Oh, you should have asked the aircraft," one of them said.
"Just go ahead, over there at the gate you will find a wheelchair and an officer to help you," she said after speaking to someone on her walkie-talkie, pointing somewhere in the distance.
I thanked her and walked slowly. I never found the gate, the wheelchair or the officer, but I was grateful because at one point the travolators were working.
I survived.
I continued my journey to see my doctor, who later gave me some painkillers, which made me feel much better.
In the evening, at the check-in counter at Changi, a woman told me that I had to pay S$30 if I needed the wheelchair service.
Onboard, when I asked the aircrew the same question, I was told, "There is no charge at Soekarno-Hatta airport, Ma'am. Would you like to have one?"
What I experienced during my last trip in March was more "impressive".
When I checked in at Soekarno-Hatta airport, I was again offered a wheelchair. I politely refused because I felt fine despite the limp. Besides, I had a companion.
On passing through immigration counter, as I walked slowly, I again heard a friendly voice, offering "Ma'am, would you like me to take you?"
I turned and saw a uniformed young woman standing near a buggy cart. I gave her my best smile and turned down the offer.
The buggy carts! I saw so many of them at Changi airport. Ah, I should ask about them.
So, when I was about to return to Jakarta, at the airport, I went to the information desk. I saw a wheelchair behind the desk and asked one of the two women on duty about it.
"Yes, you may borrow the wheelchair, but we don't have anyone to push it," she said with a (fake) smile.
"How about the buggy carts?"
"They belong to the aircraft," she said shortly.
How proud I am of the humane Jakarta airport (until I remember how they inhumanely treat the poor migrant workers).

The Jakarta Post


Pucca said...

wauw.. tenyata ada juga yang bisa dibanggakan ya dari bandara kita, lu inget gak namanya sim? :D

Ario Sasongko said...

That's a good point!

Anonymous said...

Itulah bedanya orang Indonesia dengan orang Singapore/Malaysia...
Di Indonesia masih ada jiwa/soul tolong menolong dan semangat gotong royong-nya.
Walau dana buat fasilitas bandara banyak di korupsi, tapi jiwa suka menolong masih belum terkorupsi.

Jadi sampai sekarang kami/istri lebih senang berobat di Jakarta (walau dokternya nggak bisa kasih waktu konsultasi lebih dari 15 menit)

sima said...

@pucca, hehehe.. gw jg smp terharu lho.. yg nawarin buggy cart itu dari pihak bandara.kalo kursi roda, itu dari airline-nya, berangkat gw pake airasia, pulangnya valuair (cari yg murmer dong.
nama petugasnya? eh.. ga kepikir buat nanya, Vi.

@ario, thank you.... :)

@ano, saya merasa bersyukur dengan uluran tangan pihak airline dan bandara yang penuh perhatian.

dokter di Jakarta juga banyak yg baik, termasuk dokter yg mengemo saya. dia sama sekali tidak perhitungan dan bahkan seringkali menolak dibayar. saya konsultasi dengan dokter di Sgp karena merasa cocok dan kebetulan orangnya juga baik dan sabar.

yik said...

Tulisannya mengharukan mbak :) Iya, soal TKW di bandara memang mengenaskan. Kenapa ya perilaku sopan & manusiawi spt itu nggak bisa dinikmati TKW? Krn Indonesia msh feodal?

Anonymous said...

hi yik, aku jg terharu lho melihat nasib para TKW yg bergelar pahlawan devisa itu. memang betul feodalisme msh mengungkung ind.
btw, orang changi telepon ke kantor dan kirim email minta maaf... moga2 aja servisnya meningkat ya.