Review: Flying from Kertajati International Airport for the First Time (Is It Worth It?)

It's amazing how long we all could procrastinate stuff with absolutely no reason at all. I mean, that's what I've been doing since the past couple of weeks: procrastinating to write this post.

Still in the series of my last trip to Dieng and Bali, one of the highlights in my last vacation is that I finally got a chance to fly from the newest airport in West Java for the first time. Yup, after my cousin told us that he was hesitant to come to Bali just 2 days before the beginning of our trip, we just had to have a contingency plan. And that was through flying to Bali from somewhere in Java.

There were several flight options that we could have taken from either Central Java or West Java. However, we ended up booking the ticket from Kertajati International Airport for some reasons.

First of all, as a proud Sundanese, the biggest airport in West Java (and second biggest airport in Indonesia) seems like the best option for us. Not only is it closer to Bandung, but we were also curious on how this airport is.

The infamous airport has been controversial for way too many reasons. So, is it worth flying from Kertajati International Airport?

Review: Flying from Kertajati International Airport for the First Time (Is It Worth It?) - The BeauTraveler

Kertajati International Airport

Kertajati International Airport, also known as BIJB (which stands for Bandara Internasional Jawa Barat or West Java International Airport) for the locals, is currently the second largest airport in Indonesia after the main airport Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang (close to Jakarta).

Despite for the title as the second largest airport in Indonesia, Kertajati International Airport actually has had so many controversies that somehow was reflected in my first experience flying from there.

After somewhat a ‘study' about building a new airport in 2003, the project has been postponed for a few times. I might be biased as I'm personally not a fan of the former West Java administration. However, it wasn't until 2011 when they finally started the construction in 2011.

That, until the Ministry of Transportation in Indonesia finally took over the construction project from West Java administration in 2015. It finally finished and started operating in 2018.

Kertajati International Airport.

Flights From and To Kertajati International Airport

Even after the opening of the international airport, the controversy about the airport hasn't ceased to exist. After the opening, another problem arise as they suffer from mismanagement due to lack of passengers using the airport.

As of now, even our national carrier Garuda Indonesia has stopped their flight operations to and from Kertajati International Airport. However, almost all private airlines like AirAsia and Lion Air have transferred their flights for domestic routes from the main airport in Bandung city center, Husein Sastranegara Airport.

For that reason, if you're in Bandung planning to fly with airlines other than Garuda and Citilink to other cities in Indonesia, you may have to fly from Kertajati International Airport instead.

How to Get to Kertajati International Airport from Bandung

Sure it's dubbed as the airport in Greater Bandung, West Java. And this might lure you into a misleading idea about how it's close to Bandung. I mean, sure we currently have more developed toll route compared to 10 years ago that connect Bandung to Majalengka, the location of Kertajati International Airport.

However, now that I've got the experience… The journey from Kertajati International Airport to Bandung city center (and vice versa) takes pretty much the same length of period as if you fly from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

The only advantage is that (for now) you don't have to worry about the unexpected traffic jam around Cikampek-Palimanan toll road, the toll road that connects Bandung to the new airport.

Since my cousin took us to the airport for our departure to Bali, I only got the experience using the public transportation from Kertajati Airport in my arrival. I used Baraya from Kertajati International Airport, and it cost IDR 95.000 (around $7 USD) per pax.

However, there are also some other options to take from Kertajati International Airport to Bandung with DAMRI as the most affordable ones. I heard that DAMRI even provides free transportation from the airport to Bandung city center.

My First Impression on Kertajati International Airport

After booking a flight ticket from Kertajati International Airport, I tried to find accommodation nearby the airport only to disappoint myself.

Here's the thing, the location of Kertajati isn't so strategic that it's far from the city center. The closest hotel I could find at some hotel booking platform is around 10 km from the airport, and the one I could find looks super spooky!

As if it wasn't bad enough, the location is quite awkward as it's far from Bandung. The closest city from Kertajati is Cirebon, and since it would be too near to the airport, we then decided to stay in Tegal instead. According to Google map, the distance from Tegal to Kertajati International Airport would be around 2 hours, which was quite fair since we had a morning flight at the time.

The Infrastructure Around the Airport

Cikampek-Palimanan (Cipali) toll road is the fastest route you could take, either you plan to go to the airport from West Java or Central Java. And while the infrastructure is quite decent, the fee is actually slightly more expensive than the toll road you take to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

This might not be a problem for you if you take public transportation to get to the airport. But if you use a taxi or a personal car for this, you might notice the difference.

From Tegal to Kertajati International Airport, it cost us around IDR 200,000 (around $14 USD). Comparing to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport from Bandung that you can spend less than IDR 150,000 (around $10 USD) for the toll fee.

To be fair, I kinda think that Kertajati International Airport is more ideal to be the departure point for those passengers from Central Java. If you're around Bandung area, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport seems to be a better option although the traffic jam to get there could be a pain in the ass.

Some corner around Kertajati International Airport.

The Airport Building and Surroundings

I really thought that the airport is close to the toll exit, but apparently it's not. The airport is located around 10 km from the toll exit and honestly, I could see so many flaws why Kertajati International Airport is not an ideal option to fly from. Especially if you're a foreigner who knows nothing about the area.

First of all, there is barely a sign about where to head to the airport from the toll exit. The road to the airport is super quite, and guess what? They actually just set the first stone for the airport hotel that might finish next year or a few years later.

It's like, no wonder our vice president Jusuf Kalla criticized the lack of survey and research about this airport. You could definitely see why on the way to the airport. It lacks almost everything an international airport should have.

Departure terminal at Kertajati International Airport.

The only good thing about the airport is they have a modern architecture that most of the airports in Indonesia don't have. And obviously, the airport is really big yet there are not many passengers flying from there. It's good when you're an introvert who hates people in general. But from a business point of view, of course, it's not good. And this is also the reason why the airport gets criticized by so many people.

Before I went to the airport, I managed to read and watch a few reviews about the airport. And there was this ironically funny scene from Kumparan's review on Youtube. It was when the reporter telling us that the airport has a quiet room, when really you don't have to enter the room in order to be quiet. The rest of the airport is quiet.

And it's actually true.

Review: Kertajati International Airport

When I arrived at the departure gate, the layout of the airport reminds me of Terminal 3 Ultimate at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport or even Changi in Singapore. I assumed that the check-in area would be an open space where anyone could enter the area without having to show their boarding pass.

I was wrong.

Check-in area at Kertajati International Airport.

As it turned out, there was an x-ray for passengers not so far after the departure gate. The morning flight to Bali that I took, it was probably the earliest flight, and when I arrived there, they had some problems with their x-ray machine. We had to wait for a few minutes, until they just let us enter the building without having our bags checked through the x-ray.

They literally only checked our boarding pass and that was it.

Guess what happened? As it turned out, my mom brought a pocket knife to peel some fruit she packed. As they didn't check the bag, it went through with no problem. It wasn't until her bag got checked in Bali airport when we were leaving that it could have become a problem. I mean, thank God it was my mom's bag that went through. Imagine if one of us actually brought more dangerous stuff with no-good intention! 😐

Check-in Area

The layout of the check-in area at Kertajati International Airport.

Once I entered the check-in area, the layout totally reminds me of Terminal 3 Ultimate at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. The only difference is that the wifi connection at Kertajati was quite useless.

Other than that, they have a few rows of check-in counters with some self check-in machines provided around the area as well. Everything works well, there are some benches provided around the area as well so you can just sit down while waiting for the counter to be opened if you need to check in your baggage there.

The area is surrounded by glasses, so if you're in the mood to take some pics of the view around the airport, you can.

Departure Gate

Once I entered the departure gate, I totally understood why most people always have something to say about the airport's quietness. The only good thing is that since it's a new airport, almost everything around the airport is super clean that even the floor shines.

Some pic I took around the departure gate.

1. Eateries around the departure gate.

I'm not sure whether they have another gate for international, but as I arrived at the domestic departure gate, I was quite impressed with the layout and the facilities there.

Well, even though it wasn't much, but there is a cafe where you can wait for a coffee or have some breakfast. Just some heads up though, it's not worth it. Like the food and drink are overpriced, and it wasn't even good. I ordered some as I had some work while waiting to board the aircraft.

Also, since it was a cafe, I assumed that they would have a separate wifi connection that I could use. Apparently, they didn't so I ended up using my own mobile data to be tethered to my laptop and all that.

2. A kids-friendly departure gate.

However, what I find impressive about the departure gate is a little corner where there was an airplane-shaped slide. I mean, for those traveling with kids… This would be one of the kids-friendly departure gates that you could find in Indonesia.

The airport-shaped slide at the domestic gate.

I can't remember whether I could find a kids zone in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport or any other airports in Indonesia, but this is by far the first kids' zone in Indonesian airport that caught my eyes.

3. Clean toilet.

Hopefully, the fact that the airport has a clean toilet has nothing to do with the fact that it's a new airport with not so many passengers flying from there, and more to do with the cleaning service department's performance. However, I was quite impressed with how clean the toilet area was when I went there.

The toilet area.

4. Cozy waiting room.

I like the waiting room with the cozy benches in an open space. It is a nice waiting room for sure, and there are some charging stations provided as well. I mean, I'm not complaining, but I guess it would have been a lot more comfortable if they could provide the charging station on each bench, but so far it was good enough.

The waiting room.

Arrival Gate

The layout of the arrival gate is pretty much similar to the departure gate. I mean, it is quite comfortable with a modern design that looks great in a way, but quite boring in another.

It wasn't until I got to the bus counter that I felt like it was more like a bus station than the airport. HAHA.

I mean, there are a few bus operators that have ticket counter at the arrival gate there. But it seems like since there are some choices when the passengers are not a lot, they compete so hard that they literally have to work in a hard-selling way to get passengers from themselves.

Not to mention that DAMRI still has a free service to Bandung as well, so they take a lot of effort to sell their services. All of them.

The bus counter at the arrival gate. I took this pic before my departure from the airport, so no counter was opened yet at the time.

They do have some cafeteria around the arrival gate as well, but pretty much the same as the cafe at the departure gate… It was the kind of cafeteria that would be too overpriced just because the fact that they're located at the airport.

Also, they don't have any mainstream fast-food chain except for the local CFC (California Fried Chicken), which tastes terrible. So really, if you fly from or to Kertajati International Airport, you might want to have your meals elsewhere.

Kertajati International Airport: Is It Worth Flying to/from There?

I might be biased, but given a choice… I'd probably just fly to or from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport instead if my destination is Bandung. I mean, if I'm not in a rush and time isn't my concern, everything in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport seems to be slightly better.

Pros (+):

  • The modern architecture around the airport terminal. It looks so fancy and sophisticated! 
  • Since they still try to gain more and more passengers flying to and from the airport, the flight price is quite cheap compared to the other airports. 
  • There's a free service provided by DAMRI from the airport to Bandung city center.
Some corner around the airport.

Cons (-):

  • Whatever they say about how close Kertajati International Airport is from Bandung, I find the distance quite far still. Not to mention that the toll fee is still comparatively more expensive than if you go to Jakarta. 
  • The number of flights available is still limited. 
  • The eateries and restaurants there are overpriced with standard menu that is not worth the money spent on the food. 
  • The support system of the airport is simply NOT ready. There's no hotel nearby, and the location is in the middle of nowhere. 

So, have you flown to or from Kertajati International Airport? Let me know what you think of it below in the comment, and cheerio! 😀

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