Bali Punishes Travel Blogger Over False Airport Wait Time Claims

Bali Punishes Travel Blogger Over False Airport Wait Time Claims

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The Bali Sun has the story of how a travel blogger has been asked to leave Indonesia within 30 days because of his inaccurate claims about immigration wait times at Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS).

Blogger claims 5+ hour immigration line in Bali

On July 29, 2022, Sebastian at LoyaltyLobby published a story about his experience entering Bali. The post had the following title at the time (which has since been modified):

Bali Airport Has Become A Total Hellhole With Up To Five Hours Immigration Lineups – Stay Away!

While Sebastian paid for a fast track service at the airport, he claimed “people waited for 5:20h+ in the immigration line,” and that people “were close to a breakdown after over five hours of standing in line.”

He claims that people needed medical attention, and that children and adults were crying. He also said that he talked to someone in the front of the long time about how long they had been there. He claims that the person looked at their 10AM receipt of having paid for a visa, and at this point it as 3:25PM, so they had been there for over five hours.

Authorities fight back, ask blogger to leave

The story ended up going viral, and caught the attention of the Deputy Governor of Bali, as well as immigration officials, who were worried about the impact of this story on the island’s public image. Authorities launched an investigation, and found that Sebastian had “only” been at the airport for a total of 53 minutes (which is still a long time, especially if you paid for a fast track service).

In fairness, the blogger never claimed to have personally waited for over five hours, but did authoritatively say that others were waiting for that long, and said people should stay away from Bali because of that.

The Bali Ministry of Law and Human Rights has allegedly asked the blogger to leave Indonesian territory once his 30 day tourist visa is up, meaning it can’t be extended further. The reason? He didn’t have any first-hand evidence or experience of the alleged five hour queues.

Officials did confirm it was an especially busy day for arrivals, but claimed that during peak hours some people had to wait for up to two hours to be processed, and not for over five hours. As you’d expect, Friday afternoon is a peak arrival period, and 16 immigration counters are allegedly undergoing renovations ahead of the G20 Summit in November.

Sebastian allegedly met with the head of immigration at the airport personally, and said that authorities “were very approachable.” After seeing figures presented by officials, he also reports that he doesn’t think someone who arrived at 10AM would have still been waiting after 3PM.

My take on this situation

This is a tricky situation. Admittedly anyone can publish anything on the internet, and there are going to be a lot of false claims out there. As a travel blogger as well, I can certainly appreciate that it’s nice when a story goes viral. Claiming an airport is a “hellhole” and that there were immigration wait times of over five hours (which is unheard of) is one way to make sure a story goes viral.

The issue is that the claim actually has to be true. If this entire story is based on the claim of one person he allegedly asked, then perhaps he can throw that in a story as an anecdote of what someone claimed, rather than making this the basis of the story, and claiming that’s how long everyone was waiting.

Admittedly every country and destination is different when it comes to the extent to which you’ll get away with making false claims. In some places you can claim whatever, and you’re unlikely to have authorities come after you. Meanwhile with Thailand’s defamation laws, travelers can be punished for writing negative hotel reviews online, even if they’re true.

At a minimum, in this case I’m not surprised that authorities in Indonesia took action. Bali’s biggest industry is tourism, and this isn’t a good look. Given this particular blogger’s track record of exaggerating issues, I’d say he got off very easy.

Bottom line

Bali has asked a travel blogger to leave within 30 days, without the opportunity for his visa to be extended. This is because he claimed that Denpasar Airport is a hellhole, and that people were waiting in line for well over five hours to get processed through immigration. This was allegedly based on a data point from one person there.

However, authorities investigated, and found that the wait times were only up to two hours, and even the blogger agrees now that this information was probably accurate.

This is a good reminder that it’s important to be accurate and not exaggerate or embellish when writing things online, especially when you’re a guest in another country. One has to wonder if Indonesia will issue him visas in the future.

What do you make of this story?

Conversations (58)
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  1. Jason Guest

    Hopefully they blacklist the “Chad/Karen” at the immigration level to block his re-entry permanently. You want to do a blog to try to get free crap by extortion and just being a petty little prick then you should expect someone to stand up to you at some point and give you the beating you’ve got coming. Karma is real and she doesn’t like to be taunted.

  2. Peter Guest

    This behavior goes beyond damaging Bali's reputation. For the millions of us doing travel research on the internet, these false claims can incorrectly alter our perceptions and plans for a precious vacation. I'm not advocating for legal action for a random dude's "freedom of speech", but demanding responsible writing from anyone who is serious about being part of the online community.

  3. philelltt Member

    Loyalty Lobby has 3 contributors, calling themselves John, Sebastian and Freddo. Each has covered identity by never showing photos of documents with real name, and never showing photos of themselves. The "we" in blogs is never explained.

    Sebastian and John post a regular compensation clinic article. In it , they tell their adventures of how they turned minor inconveniences such as broken hotel room alarm clock into large numbers of compensation reward points. One...

    Loyalty Lobby has 3 contributors, calling themselves John, Sebastian and Freddo. Each has covered identity by never showing photos of documents with real name, and never showing photos of themselves. The "we" in blogs is never explained.

    Sebastian and John post a regular compensation clinic article. In it , they tell their adventures of how they turned minor inconveniences such as broken hotel room alarm clock into large numbers of compensation reward points. One might assume the compensation clinic blogs which are published are only the tip of the iceberg of their complaints to hotels. Not all their complaints would be successful.

    Readers are invited to send in complaints. John and Sebastian don't advocate on the behalf of readers though, They just give advice. Readers are at best moderately successful in getting free points for complaints.

    The website uses Disqus for reader feedback . Disqus allows anonymous readers to comment. There is a strong undercurrent of abuse/cronyism in the reader feedback.

    There are regular competitions where points for hotel loyalty schemes are given away. In order to enter, readers give their personal information. The winner must give bank account details so money to buy points can be deposited. As yet no winner has ever come forward to tell their experience.

    It comes as no surprise that Sebastian has written a negative article about Indonesia. It is one of many negative articles about Indonesia, Canada, Australia and Thailand posted on Loyalty Lobby. Equally , it comes as no surprise that on the Loyalty Lobby website so far there is no lucid explanation of what really happened when Sebastian met with immigration officials. There was a follow up blog article where Sebastian mentioned various statistics given by the immigration officer, but that has been removed.

    1. speech commentary Guest

      I've had many the same thoughts... there have always been peculiarities about LL. Indeed, one of the most surprising parts to me of this whole episode is that it confirms that there is, indeed, a real person living at least some of what they post. Honestly, was somewhat shocked.

      That being said, it is a shame that LL sensationalized their post (not uncommon for them, for sure), and perhaps over-emphasized a suspect anecdote from another...

      I've had many the same thoughts... there have always been peculiarities about LL. Indeed, one of the most surprising parts to me of this whole episode is that it confirms that there is, indeed, a real person living at least some of what they post. Honestly, was somewhat shocked.

      That being said, it is a shame that LL sensationalized their post (not uncommon for them, for sure), and perhaps over-emphasized a suspect anecdote from another traveler, as it does seem that they were indeed covering what was a real issue (even if not as bad as they seemed to suggest). Going forward, who would ever want to share negative experiences with the arrival experience?

    2. AlanF Guest

      I read that article about the statistics, but for the sake of completeness... I just went back to see if it was still there.... and it is.

      https://loyaltylobby.com/2022/07/31/update-bali-airport-situation-arrival-queues-to-normalize-according-to-authorities/

      So your last statement that is has been removed is completely incorrect.

  4. iamhere Guest

    It also depends how you write it. If you just write it as having talked with someone and it's a couple of sentences then as you said it's not really a personal account but if you write it more like an interview style and say that you talked with a family of four coming from London who had been waiting for however long, etc. It also depends on your language. Words that use estimation could be useful.

  5. Guest Guest

    My wife and I had a 4.5 hour wait to get out at DPS 3 weeks ago. We arrived just after 3 from SIN and got into our Grab around 730.

    They opened a couple of new immigration counters an hour or so after we were in line (which we immediately jumped to). I can certainly imagine some people getting stuck over 5 hours in line.

  6. Marcus Guest

    He should try that kind of stunt in Singapore and realize there are consequences

    1. Jkjkjk Guest

      Oh he will remember the smell of ratan. God damn it indonesia. Use aceh’s law for disobedient foreigners.

  7. Commenting Commenter Guest

    It's important to be accurate, but not only that, refrain from blogging until the exit the country. "Freedom of speech" everywhere else is not like the USA, and you could get in trouble with the authorities while you're in their soil.

    1. The_DJ Guest

      Serve him right. He was a petulant, entitled child-man who seek attention and traffic to his website. He has no respect to the country and its people. He should stay away from Bali and Indonesia entirely!! I hoped he was deported immediately!!

  8. slay queen Guest

    honestly if this "reporter" was lying about something that goes against the reality of a country (in this case a territory of a country) he should be called out, and the Indonesian authorities have every right to be harsh

  9. iv Member

    "Admittedly every country and destination is different when it comes to the extent to which you’ll get away with making false claims". Ain't that the truth! Just look at all the MAGA riff raff is spewing. The *clink*clink* can't come soon enough for all of them!

    1. Sarah Guest

      What a weird and inappropriate comment in response to this story.

      If you are so consumed with politics that you are compelled to bring them into everything you see, relevant or not, perhaps you should stick to visiting political websites.

  10. Mark P Member

    In the comments on the original article, people are bringing up this news story and Sebastian himself is saying that this is news to him and he was never notified of this. So, might be a non-story.

  11. Roamingredcoat Gold

    April 2019 I had about 2.5-3 hours total in standard line from entering immigration hall to exiting the winding arrivals hall exit. Got in at ~23:30 on Korean same time as a couple Jetstars and another Asian carrier, so off hours, but they know when their flights arrive. They opened two lanes, but only for their 55/retiree visa & passengers with children. Officials did not communicate this, so the passenger from the Asian carrier flight...

    April 2019 I had about 2.5-3 hours total in standard line from entering immigration hall to exiting the winding arrivals hall exit. Got in at ~23:30 on Korean same time as a couple Jetstars and another Asian carrier, so off hours, but they know when their flights arrive. They opened two lanes, but only for their 55/retiree visa & passengers with children. Officials did not communicate this, so the passenger from the Asian carrier flight rushed those lines, before they started turning other people back. Obviously traffic jumped faster than DPS infrastructure can adjust for, and exaggerated 5 hours claims do not help, but officials are making it sound as though 2 hours is abnormal which comments here refute.

  12. DavidO New Member

    I had a Fast Track immigration service for my visit to Bali ... got me through very quickly, then had a very long wait for luggage to be delivered. Everyone in the regular queue had gotten through by the time it finally appeared.

    1. Seattle Eric Guest

      I concur. We arrived in Bali on July 30. Using FastTrack, we were at the baggage carousel in 10min. We were able to bypass any covid nonsense (which surprised me). As DavidO commented, awaiting the baggage was the biggest time suck, though that was outside the control of the fast track folks.

  13. Nathan Guest

    Just arrived at DPS from SYD on GIA last Friday. Presumably same day and around the same time as this guy. Also paid for fast track service and waited 2 + hours... I believe it was among (maybe one or two days after?) the first day the DXB -DPS flight restarted which seemed to be the biggest problem. Immigration was an insane mess, without question. People cutting into queues, yelling, crying, changing babies on the airport floor. Hope to never relive it!

  14. Frog Guest

    Well, the authorities could have just refuted his claim with their own data. Maybe even done some marketing on the back of this publicity. Kicking him out of the country definitely isn’t a good look.

    1. Don Kedick Guest

      Indonesians aren’t especially smart

    2. Pleasant Lewis Guest

      Only an idiot who has no idea what he is talking about would make a comment like that! If you have been to Bali, I hope they don't let you come back, because they certainly don't need people like you there. Stay away!

      I just got back from Bali and getting through imaginations was easy. And even if it weren't the Balinese people are the nicest you will ever meet.

    3. D3kingg Guest

      When other commentators make me look good

    4. The_DJ Guest

      Said the frog who has been living under the rock. Ignorant!

  15. Eskimo Guest

    Well finally LL gets a taste of their own DYKWIA medicine. Bali pulled a Sebastian on Sebastian.

    Unless he is making up all his adventures, especially the compensation part. He should have been persona non grata with every hotel chain and airline. (Now possibly Bali or Indonesia)

    Even for worse experiences than LL, I have yet to receive the same level of compensation as these guys do.
    They probably earn more in compensation...

    Well finally LL gets a taste of their own DYKWIA medicine. Bali pulled a Sebastian on Sebastian.

    Unless he is making up all his adventures, especially the compensation part. He should have been persona non grata with every hotel chain and airline. (Now possibly Bali or Indonesia)

    Even for worse experiences than LL, I have yet to receive the same level of compensation as these guys do.
    They probably earn more in compensation than signup bonus.

    But just like CNN or FOX, they are still great source for entertainment with some tidbits of facts.
    And Bali got all the bad publicity that came with this. Influencers beware.

  16. Mike Guest

    The guy was a Karen before “being a Karen” was even a thing. His blog is unreadable. It's just a series of entitled, petty, complaints to hotels, airlines, and car rental companies so he can extract some form of compensation from them.

  17. digital_notmad Member

    Ironically, I never read the LoyaltyLobby story or knew of Sebastian's claims, but now I know about Bali's authoritarian approach to the press, so it's been bumped substantially down the list of places I want to visit.

    1. Arie Guest

      I dont see a blogger as being a member of the press. He is just a dude..and every country in the world excercises the right to turn away people who they see as undesirable, this actually happens more often in western nations.

  18. XPL Diamond

    Only fifty three minutes and he melts down? Ask any non-US citizen how long the immigration lines at ATL generally are.

  19. CXTraveller New Member

    There is no denying of Bali (DPS) terrible queues. My personal experience (pre-pandemic) and others I have talked to all have 2+ hours of immigration lines (it was just under 3 hours for me, arriving in the afternoon). I have visited Indonesia twice, and Bali was far worse. Next time, I'm going to enter through Jakarta (CGK) and let's see if it's better there.

    1. Michael_FFM New Member

      Immigration in Jakarta is fine. I tried it in June

    2. Ksa63 Guest

      I went thru Jakarta Sunday eve. Luckily I am a KITAS holder and could skip much of the lines. The line to register the vax and get the VOA were terrible. And the immigration line was very slow.

  20. Shawn M Ehmann Guest

    You are being WAY to easy on the blogger... Spreading misinformation to get headlines isnt journalism... Liars have no place in journalism.... This isn't sensationalism, it's just a false story! If you use one source, for an airport, your not a journalist...plus that isn't even reality!!

  21. frrp Member

    So basically bali has absolutely terrible queues, is run by incompetant staff but they want to just deny it?

    1. Rotuma Member

      No, just one guy’s opinion.

  22. D3kingg Guest

    Never heard of this blogger. Sounds like a five hour wait in an airport line is the greatest hardship he’s ever faced in his life.

  23. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The key takeaway is to accurately report what YOU experienced and not to regurgitate someone else's biased and potentially inaccurate experiences. Even as a single traveler, social media is powerful and often monitored by governments.

  24. Geoff Guest

    I know this clown, and this behavior doesn't surprise me. Did you know he was even banned from returning to his own country for several years? About time other countries shut him down. Now the hotel, airline, and car rental companies he exploits should shut his ass down, too.

  25. G. N. Janes Guest

    ‪I actually entered Bali on Friday, July 22 and while there were lines, I checked my WhatsApp messages and it looks like our wait time was about an hour. We did not pay for fast track services. The only real issue I saw was that some people were confused about the need for a visa on arrival and had to be sent back to purchase one by immigration. First time visiting. It’s an amazing island and would’ve been worth a longer wait time.

  26. AJ Member

    Clarification....was he actually "kicked out" of the country or just given a warning bc according to the linked article "The Bali Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Anggiat Napitupulu told local reporters ‘We give Sebastian a warning so that he holds a 30-day visa on arrival (VoA), we ask him before 30 days to leave Bali or Indonesian territory’."?

    1. Wira Guest

      Basically if Sebastian want to stay longer (more than 30 days) in Bali, his visa application would be rejected. Actually he wasn't being kicked out, just got warning.

  27. Janus Guest

    I was in Bali about a month ago, landing at 10pm, which isn't a busy period at the airport. Holding a passport from South East Asian country (visa free) and being in a business class, I walk (very fast!) towards the immigration counter and thanks to my toddler, I queued in the family line which is significantly shorter than the normal queue, and guess what? I waited for over 2 hours before I could get...

    I was in Bali about a month ago, landing at 10pm, which isn't a busy period at the airport. Holding a passport from South East Asian country (visa free) and being in a business class, I walk (very fast!) towards the immigration counter and thanks to my toddler, I queued in the family line which is significantly shorter than the normal queue, and guess what? I waited for over 2 hours before I could get out of the airport. My line wasn't anywhere near the photo shown in the Sebasatian's post, so 5 hours plus for a peak period for those stuck at the back of the economy class isn't a surprise for me.

  28. Darryl in Miami Guest

    UK is correct a few weeks ago I waited in that line for over 2 hours without checked luggage......not a great feeling after long international flights................process really should be streamlined and would think the country does not want to make this kind of first impression on their guests.......those lost 2 hours multiplied by millions of tourists is a lot of drink, dining, touring, shopping dollars left on the table.

  29. DJ Guest

    This is typical of Asia, rather than see a problem, they try to sweep the dirt under the carpet and ignore it. Whether a bad hotel review, long waits, dishonest 'tourist police', jet ski and motorbike scams, the effort is spent at making problems disappear, rather than fix them. An hour fast track is too long. More than two hours in regular line is too long also. Fast track shouldn't even be an option, it's...

    This is typical of Asia, rather than see a problem, they try to sweep the dirt under the carpet and ignore it. Whether a bad hotel review, long waits, dishonest 'tourist police', jet ski and motorbike scams, the effort is spent at making problems disappear, rather than fix them. An hour fast track is too long. More than two hours in regular line is too long also. Fast track shouldn't even be an option, it's just a money grab. The longest line I have ever seen is Chicago O'Hare, so it's not a SE Asia issue. Is it right to throw someone out of a country for having a negative opinion about an airport? No, of course not. Should someone else be threatened with jail for a negative hotel review? When does it end? The mainstream media fabricates stories every day and cry freedom of the press, can't have it both ways. I tend to believe the five hour plus claim, not liking a blogger's attitude doesn't make him wrong. This will be picked up by global media outlets and in the end, Bali will end up looking much worse then if it would have just put more people on duty and say, sorry for the long waits.

    1. Antonio Guest

      Your point of viene is perfectly reasoned. We are not talking about a negative review. Just another mere example from today ( and this use of language is standard):
      " Call me old-fashioned when I pose the question if this carrier (or its pilots) can be trusted as I like my life and doubt that I would book ever a flight for myself on NOK after these incidents. Budget airline or not, passengers have a reasonable expectation of reaching their destination alive. "

  30. Airplneguy Guest

    Glad they go after the false claims used for clickbait. There should be consequences. 53 minutes in the airport, they didn’t say it was the visa Q only, is really not a long time.

    1. Kas Guest

      You forgot the 53 minutes they refer to was when using paid fast track service!

      So it is crystal clear that for the normal pax the wait was much longer

  31. Rayn Guest

    Not surprising this happened to him. Sebasatian has a history of finding the smallest issue to complain about and exaggerate it to ask for service recovery from the hotel or airline.
    How often do a normal traveler ask to talk to the GM of hotel when something minor did not go their way? You can see him write about doing this almost every week. E.g. he complains about not being able to check in...

    Not surprising this happened to him. Sebasatian has a history of finding the smallest issue to complain about and exaggerate it to ask for service recovery from the hotel or airline.
    How often do a normal traveler ask to talk to the GM of hotel when something minor did not go their way? You can see him write about doing this almost every week. E.g. he complains about not being able to check in at a hotel club lounge. In this situation, most travelers will probably just head to the front desk to check in. He would ask for the GM and ask for compensation.
    While it is good to have travel blogger being critical to the hospitality industry, his was just too much.

  32. Antonio Guest

    So Karensebastian is going to be expelled from Bali? Maybe he can deliver a compensation clinic claim to UN and get some points

  33. Lenny Guest

    Anyone who has read LoyaltyLobby for a while knows that Sebastian just complains about everything.

    Good to see that someone finally fights back. All the hotel chains should also decide that they are not up to Sebastian’s standards and just stop serving him. :)

    1. Vinny Guest

      Amen, he is the worst representation of points and miles enthusiasts and just the worst in general (with John on that site being a close second)

    2. Mindy Guest

      I landed in Bali on Tuesday, July 21st at 2pm, just days before the report of the 5 hour wait on Friday. It took me well over three hours to clear immigration. Standing in line. No access to food or water. Families splitting up to take turns standing in line, while others sat on the floor. People were miserable. Many immigration desks sat empty that day, without staff to process tourists. I absolutely believe it...

      I landed in Bali on Tuesday, July 21st at 2pm, just days before the report of the 5 hour wait on Friday. It took me well over three hours to clear immigration. Standing in line. No access to food or water. Families splitting up to take turns standing in line, while others sat on the floor. People were miserable. Many immigration desks sat empty that day, without staff to process tourists. I absolutely believe it may have taken 5 hours on Friday afternoon or close to it. The author of that article was very clear that he, himself, had not experienced the 5 hour wait and was reporting on others stated experiences. I am having an amazing time enjoying Bali, but I would absolutely tell friends considering a trip here to expect a difficult entry experience. If it is true that the government here is pushing the writer of that article out of Bali, that would further discourage me from returning. Covid travel is complicated. All of us who travel now must expect hiccups along the way. I believe the challenges at the Bali airport are fixable and may already have improved. However, I do not think that the report was misinformation.

    3. Peter Guest

      Totally agree, he should be put on the 'no slay list' of every major hotel chains.

    4. Mike Guest

      No SLAY List!
      Even if that’s a typo it’s perfect
      Yes please, I want to see him lip sync for his stay

  34. UK Guest

    Arrived in Bali two weeks ago.
    It took almost two hours to get out once having left the plane.
    1) everyone waits to get their proof of vaccine verified at one desk
    2) then a long line to pay for your visa (credit card accepted!)
    3) then 2 desks open for immigration with another one being sporadically opened when there weren’t any of the fast track customers
    4) there were...

    Arrived in Bali two weeks ago.
    It took almost two hours to get out once having left the plane.
    1) everyone waits to get their proof of vaccine verified at one desk
    2) then a long line to pay for your visa (credit card accepted!)
    3) then 2 desks open for immigration with another one being sporadically opened when there weren’t any of the fast track customers
    4) there were people offering to sell fast track on the spot at the immigration lines
    5) and after all that, there was an even longer wait for bags to come out!
    6) only 2 customs desks were open through which everyone had to pass through, no walk through if nothing to declare hallway
    7) and finally out

  35. Sean M. Diamond

    Clickbait has consequences. Who'd have thunk it.

    1. Steve Diamond

      And the rules and laws of the USA dont apply when you leave the USA, seems simple but plenty of entitled people forget this.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Sean M. Diamond

Clickbait has consequences. Who'd have thunk it.

9
Arie Guest

I dont see a blogger as being a member of the press. He is just a dude..and every country in the world excercises the right to turn away people who they see as undesirable, this actually happens more often in western nations.

6
Mike Guest

The guy was a Karen before “being a Karen” was even a thing. His blog is unreadable. It's just a series of entitled, petty, complaints to hotels, airlines, and car rental companies so he can extract some form of compensation from them.

5
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