A forum was recently held by the Indonesian Consumers Organization (YLKI) to air grievances over Soekarno-Hatta airport user facilities, with the airport operator promising to improve facilities such as toilets and a prayer room in the near future.
YLKI invited customers and representatives of airport operator PT Angkasa Pura, the Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA) and other service providers.
Speaking at the forum, customer Iriani said she felt uncomfortable when she wanted to do her prayers, especially in the evening, while a visitor at Soekarno-Hatta.
She often had to get in long lines to take ablutions, she said, because the prayer room is so small.
"The place cannot accommodate all the people at one time. We women often have to wait until the men finish their prayers because there's no separator to divide the women's and men's sides," said Iriani.
"When the praying times come, it is so crowded that many people take ablutions in airport toilets. We have to be careful where we step because the floor gets wet," she added.
Another airport user, Rina, complained of poor toilet facilities, saying there were no toilets for people with disabilities.
"The toilets are also not hygienic and the floors are sometimes wet, which is dangerous for people using crutches or walking sticks," said Rina, who works for an organization that cares for disabled people.
Atsih, who works in a travel agency, complained of porters and unofficial taxis at the airport.
"Porters often surround me and pick up my luggage without my permission. I've even had to yell at them that I do not need their assistance," said Atsih.
"The unofficial taxi drivers do a similar thing, forcing me to take their taxis. It's so annoying. I've wanted to complain about all of this but I did not know where to go," she said.
A survey conducted by YLKI from Dec. 25 to Jan. 3 garnered 1393 complaints from 713 airport users through text message (SMS), telephone, fax, letter and email. Most respondents used SMS to file their complaints.
Of the four areas covered by the survey, consumers emphasized the poor quality of services and infrastructure.
They especially complained of damaged and unhygienic toilets, unfriendly officials and inadequate prayer rooms and waiting rooms.
They also sited a lack of professionalism on the part of airport and airlines officials.
"The customers also criticized the non-airport services, like taxis, airlines, airport buses and toll road access to the airport," said YLKI member Indah Sukmaningtyas.
"About 77 percent of the respondents complained of the toll road that was inundated by floodwaters in February," she added.
She said the findings of the survey indicated a need for the airport's officials to reevaluate their work.
"They need to adopt standard operating procedures, improve facilities and provide training to airport employees. They also should provide a customer center to field user complaints," Indah said.
Soekarno-Hatta airport branch head Haryanto said the poor services were caused by the airport's inability to cope with rapid growth.
"The airport was designed to accommodate about 18 million passengers, while in 2007 there were about 39 million customers. This year, we hope we will complete the construction of Terminal 3, which will accommodate 4 million users," Haryanto said.
He said he was aware his company had to do more to improve services.
"We are striving to repair all the broken facilities."
He said his company would renovate toilets and a prayer room, and provide facilities for disabled people.
"For customers who have any complaints of our services, they can send text messages to 9900," he said (trw)