Jakarta: airport differences compared to the US.

Landed Sunday afternoon, departed Saturday afternoon. I was in Jakarta just short of six full days.

This morning 1/10/14, I had breakfast with a fellow Cal friend Smiriti. We met in the dorms in our first year. She came over to the hotel for breakfast and we caught up for a bit. The topic of Berkeley came up a couple times, and it left me full of good feelings. Then I left for the airport.

Jakarta International Airport doesn’t look like any of the other 15 airports I’ve been to. Rooftops were made of brick. Flooring was brick. I was reminded that Indonesia is a Muslim country, and a large percentage of the women were partially or fully covered in headdresses.

Airport security is much different than in the US. I had to go through security before I reached the ticket counter. My bags went through an x-ray machine and I emptied my pockets. Shoes stayed on. Security wasn’t armed with guns. Laptop stayed in the case.

The whole process took… five seconds. I forgot to take my water bottle out, and they didn’t do anything about it. I have no idea what purpose that checkpoint served.

After I got my boarding pass, I had to go through immigration. I paid a 150,000 IDR exit fee, or $12.39.  All clear, hello duty free shops and terminal gates!

Right outside each gate was another security checkpoint. The only difference from this checkpoint from the first was that liquids had to be tossed. My carry on, laptop case, and personal items went through the scanners without a pause. Good thing too, Taiwan now has twenty-six more pounds of cocaine than yesterday! I sounded the alarm upon walking past the scanners, and they used one of those scanning sticks on me for less than five seconds. I was never physically touched.

In comparison, I had sounded the alarm in my LAX-DET trip in November. The scanners showed that my entire torso radiated metal. It was my dress shirt, which the guard confidently exclaimed, “must be very expensive.” The shirt cost me $10 USD in Taipei. I was taken to the side, scanned by the handheld stick thing, and given a lengthy fully body search.

You get the idea though. Some food for thought: terrorists will likely never successfully hijack American flights ever again. Yet, the damage is done. The heightened security, extra hassle, and billions of dollars spent on preventative damages per year are astonishing. The price you pay for being a superpower and having enemies, I suppose.

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