Be careful what you write.
A foreigner is in hot water after making claims about hellish immigration queues at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport upon arrival last Friday, in an article headlined “Bali airport has become a nightmare with up to five hours of immigration queues”.
The article was published on a travel blog Loyalty lobby. On a Twitter post promoting the article, the headline and URL read “Bali airport turned into total hell with up to five hours of immigration queues.”
The author of the article is Sebastian Powell, who, according to the website’s About section, is an editor from Germany who lives in Japan.
In the article, Powell wrote that he witnessed what he called “the worst queuing situation” he had “ever experienced in the world”, adding that he was traveling frequently flown for two decades.
Powell wrote that he had pre-booked an arrival concierge as he had been warned of facing long lines, and saw that others “were about to break down after more than five hour queue”. He said he used an expedited service for a fee of IDR 420,000 ($28) and exited the airport one hour and 15 minutes after arriving.
“After hearing tales of woe from other travellers, this was the best money ever spent in Bali,” he wrote.
Powell mentioned that his colleague, John Ollila, Loyalty lobby‘s founder and lead author, arrived in Bali in May this year and also faced a long queue at the airport (Ollila said in his own article that it took him 90 minutes from landing to leaving the airport after spending an hour in the immigration queue).
Powell and Ollila in their respective articles criticized the lengthy process, with Powell stating, “I don’t see any of the people who were stuck in this line today coming back to Bali.” Ollila wrote, “Why can’t Indonesia and Bali get along, and why are visitors willing to put up with this arrival hell?
The article caught the eye Indonesian authorities.
The head of the Bali office of the Indonesian Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Anggiat Napitupulu, said yesterday that Powell’s claims were false, adding that the writer is still in Bali.
“He holds a visa on arrival [valid for] 30 days. We ask him that before 30 days, he must immediately leave Bali or Indonesian territories,” he said. said during a press conference at the airport.
Anggiat said that, based on the bureau’s investigation, it actually took Powell less than an hour to clear immigration.
“During the incident, he did not live through what he said [in the article]. Based on CCTV camera recordings provided by [airport operator] Angkasa Pura, from exiting the plane to exiting the immigration queue, the time was 53 minutes,” Anggiat said.
“He only told a story based on what other people told him, but he couldn’t verify when it happened. [and] Where it happened. He just repeated what others said. So, you could say it’s a bit of a made up story,” he added.
Bali Coconut contacted Powell via Loyalty lobby for further comment, but the site responded stating that it “cannot comment on the issue at this time”.
Meanwhile, Powell himself wrote another article titled “UPDATE: Bali airport situation is improving and arrival queues are normalizing, authorities say“, in which he says he received statements from the airport immigration manager who told him that last Friday was “an extremely busy day with almost 9,000 arrivals”.
In the follow-up article, Powell said authorities in Bali “have taken note of the congestion” and “there are now improvements being made to ensure the airport experience will be as smooth as possible.”
“I think they’re trying to do the right thing and things will get better now,” Powell wrote in his conclusion.