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Indonesians utilize passports for ‘pulang kampung’ as domestic flight prices soar

Returning home for Indonesians means grappling with costly domestic flights. Many choose longer routes, transiting in nearby countries like Malaysia for cheaper options.



INDONESIA: ‘Pulang kampung’ or ‘mudik’ holds a significant place in Indonesian culture, especially during Eid al-Fitr, when families reunite to celebrate the occasion together.

This tradition fosters bonds and connections among people who have migrated to different areas, drawing them back to their hometowns.

For many Indonesians, returning home involves navigating the complexities of domestic travel, particularly due to the high cost of domestic flight tickets.

Often, individuals opt for a circuitous route, making transits in neighbouring countries like Malaysia, seeking more affordable alternatives.

Travelling by car remains a popular choice for those whose villages lie within the same province or nearby.

It’s not uncommon for several families to organize a convoy, enhancing the sense of community during the journey.

However, for destinations spanning provinces, air or sea travel becomes necessary.

Despite the convenience of air travel, many are surprised by the steep prices of domestic flights compared to international ones.

The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, attributes this disparity to the imbalance in supply and demand, coupled with limited domestic fleet availability.

Acknowledging the discrepancy, Sandiaga Uno notes that Indonesian airlines often offer more significant discounts for international routes, exacerbating the cost difference between domestic and overseas travel.

Indonesians opt for cheaper transit routes home amid soaring domestic flight costs

In response to these challenges, some Indonesians have resorted to unconventional travel routes, using passports to fly home via transit point like Malaysia.

This approach, though indirect, often proves to be more economical compared to direct domestic flights.

For instance, TikTok user dekjaww shares his experience of traveling from Jakarta to Aceh via Kuala Lumpur, citing significant savings on ticket fares compared to direct domestic flights.

“I bought a ticket from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur and then from Kuala Lumpur to Aceh. Why? Because it’s cheaper,” he said on the video.


Kita mah cari nya yang murah-murah aja🙌🏻

♬ suara asli – Dekjaw – Dekjaw

According to Gutzy’s findings on Google, direct flight prices from Jakarta to Aceh peaked on 7 and 8 April, reaching almost 9 million rupiah (US$567), but dropped significantly to 2.2 million rupiah (US$140) for Eid travel on 10 April.

The Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur ticket price was 2 million rupiah (US$126) on 7 April, decreasing to 1.6 million rupiah (US$100) on 8 April, and further dropping to 1.1 million rupiah (US$70) on 10 April.

Similarly, the Kuala Lumpur-Aceh flight cost 2 million rupiah (US$126) on 7 April, rose slightly to 2.2 million rupiah (US$140)on 8 April, but decreased to 631 thousand rupiah (US$40) on 10 April.

Comparing these prices, it’s evident that taking flights from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur and then from Kuala Lumpur to Aceh offers a more economical option for travellers.

Netizens share similar experiences

Since its upload on 31 March, the video has garnered over 1.8 million views and received more than 2700 comments, with numerous netizens sharing similar experiences.

One commenter recounted his own journey, affirming, “You’re not alone, I did the same.”

He explained that opting for a direct flight from Jakarta to Medan would cost him 1.9 million rupiah (US$120), whereas transiting in Penang first reduced his expenses to around one million rupiah (US$63).


Another user shared a similar sentiment, revealing that travelling directly from Jakarta to Padang would incur a cost of five million rupiahs (US$315), whereas transiting in Malaysia slashed the ticket price to just 800 thousand rupiahs (US$50).


Reflecting on long-standing practices, one individual mentioned having employed such transit routes since 2016.

Having lived in Bali, they habitually transited in Kuala Lumpur on their journeys back to Aceh.


However, amidst these anecdotes, one netizen highlighted the underlying issue, emphasizing that it’s not a matter of inability to afford tickets but rather the exorbitant prices of domestic flights within Indonesia.


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It is simple supply and demand. If the flight route from Bali to Aceh has a capacity of 5000 passengers per day. When there is a surge in demand, the ticket price will increase. Increasing supply / passenger capacity requires a corresponding increase in ticket prices too. Otherwise there is no incentive for airlines to increase the frequency of flights for a particular route. Not as many people will be flying from Penang to Aceh or Penang to Bali during the same time period. So those flights will obviously be cheaper. Time to get that noggin thinking. Those who seize… Read more »