Thousands stuck in queue for hours at Bali airport in Christmas travel rush

Travellers have found themselves stuck at the airport for hours after touching down in Bali over Christmas.

Those stepping off planes in the tourist hotspot joined a huge queue to get through immigration and customs on Sunday.

Pictures and videos showed a sea of people clogging up Ngurah Rai International Airport waiting to get into Bali to start their summer vacation.

One woman on social media said it took her 3.5 hours to get out of the airport after arriving from Australia at about 9.30pm.

She estimated 2500 travellers waiting and 10 customs officers working.

Fast-track airport service

Bali is well aware of how frustrating travellers find the long the queues to get through the immigration and customs checkpoints during busy periods at the international airport.

There are companies that travellers can pay to provide a VIP service and fast-track entry into the Indonesian island.

A designated person will meet the traveller at their gate upon arrival and escort them through the airport, which includes skipping the queues.

However, fast-tracked travellers still need to wait to collect their check-in luggage from the baggage carousel like everyone else.

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Travellers have documented the service on TikTok, which can cost about $50 per person.

“They meet you at the gate of your flight when you land … they walk you straight to immigration. The line, ooft, there were a lot of people. But we were in and out in 10 minutes,” Jenny Zhou said.

“It was crazy. We were so fast that our luggage had not even arrived yet.”

Ms Zhou said she waited 30 minutes for her bags.

The video posted in October, which now has 885,000 views, received mixed reaction. Some labelled the service a “rip off” while others said it was a “great tip”.

“100% recommend it too! We learnt the hard way and waited 3.5 hours to clear,” one person said.

“People saying it’s a waste of money clearly haven’t stood in a queue for 5 hours in Bali airport with no wifi,” said another.

Others suggested the fast-track service was only worth it for travellers with just carry-on bags and some pointed out it was cheaper to get the service at the airport rather than booking in advance.

“Done this and yeah they all catch up at the bags. Do it if you have carry on only,” one traveller said.

“I went end of August/September. It’s a case of luck. When I arrived it was dead and it would’ve been a waste of money, busier season maybe worth it,” another added.

A third said: “Sometimes waiting in airport queues is all part of the holiday experience.”

Holiday travellers fill Australian airports

Back at home, Australia’s major airports are also under the pump amid the holiday rush.

More than 2.2 million people are expected to pass through Sydney Airport during the Christmas peak from December 12 to January 1, representing the busiest holiday period in three years.

The airport forecasted 1.4 million domestic passengers and more than 800,000 international passengers during that time.

Melbourne Airport’s forecast for the number of people passing through in December and January is six million people. Making up those numbers is holiday travellers and also people arriving for the Australian Open.

On the busiest days more than 100,000 passengers are expected to pass through the airport.

Sydney and Melbourne Airport’s travel tips:

• Check-in online. Save time by downloading the app for the airline you’re flying and check-in before you get to the airport.

• Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to find a car park, check-in/bag drop and clear security. Pre-book parking to secure a spot.

• Write your name and phone number on a bag tag and attach it to luggage as an extra precaution. Remove old tags and flight barcodes.

• Be prepared for security: ensure your bags are clear of things that you can’t travel with. Check-in wrapped presents. You may have to unwrap them if in your carry on.

• Pack your patience. The airport is always busy at Christmas time, so please be kind and patient to your fellow travellers and airport staff. Look for customer service staff and volunteers if you have any questions at the airport.

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