Garuda’s Airport Tax Ripoff

Last updated: April 18, 2013
Rip-Off Alert

Garuda maximising airport tax payment convenience… and cost.

Garuda Airport Tax Included

Since October 2012, Garuda Indonesia’s domestic flight tickets have included airport tax (a.k.a. passenger service charge) in the advertised price.

Garuda Fare Breakdown

On the Garuda website, it is identified in the fare breakdown as a “surcharge”, separate from other taxes, charges and insurance. It is convenient for passengers to not have to pay airport tax, especially for visitors from other countries who aren’t expecting to pay.

However, sometimes Garuda Indonesia overcharges its passengers for airport tax.

Airport Tax Denpasar to Padang one wayWhen passengers travel on two domestic flights on the one ticket/booking code, they only need to pay airport tax for the first airport; transiting passengers do not have to pay airport tax at the second airport. (The same things happens when transiting on international flights).

For example, this customer (right) is flying Garuda one way from Denpasar to Padang, via Jakarta. They should only pay Denpasar airport tax of Rp40 000 ($4.50 €3,50 £3). However, Garuda is also charging them an additional Rp40 000 for Jakarta airport tax, for a total of Rp80 000 under “surcharges”.

But when booking a return ticket – see the graphic here – Garuda Indonesia charges the correct amount of airport tax: Rp75 000, comprising Rp40 000 for Denpasar and Rp35 000 for Padang.

Why would Garuda Indonesia – the only airline so far participating in this “pilot scheme” of incorporating airport tax into the ticket price – overcharge its customers for airport tax? Here are four possibilities, none of them positive:

  1. Garuda Indonesia’s infamously unreliable reservation system was not programmed correctly to discern between single flights and transit flights.
  2. Garuda Indonesia is price gouging (overcharging its customers) and hopes no one will notice, perhaps because Garuda is the only full-service airline and usually the most expensive anyway.
  3. Airport operators and Garuda Indonesia are colluding in overcharging airport tax; maybe the additional taxes was a pre-condition for Garuda Indonesia being allowed to offer all inclusive ticket prices. (Corruption is common in state-owned businesses and government departments).
  4. Garuda Indonesia is finding an alternative illicit source of income because – at a time of high fuel prices, increasing competition, etc – it is struggling to pay for its new planes, and/or to make a profit.

Maybe a brave passenger would like to inform Garuda customer service of their ripoff and request a tax refund, or send a link to Garuda’s Twitter account and see what happens.

For now, the author will just keep a running total of how much Garuda Indonesia has overcharged Mau Ke Mana clients in airport tax, since 1 January 2013:

No. passengers overcharged: 6

Total overcharged: Rp240 000

($US27.00 €21,00 £18)

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