Heathow Airport’s Border Control – which often sees longer tailbacks than rush hour on the M25 – should take note of Garuda Indonesia’s inventive way of dealing with border security.
Garuda has been offering its “Immigration on Board” service on the plane for foreign tourists travelling to its home country since February 2010.
The free service, which was introduced on its Tokyo-Denpasar-Jakarta route – is being expanded to include flights from Shanghai to Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.
Foreign travellers can buy “visa on arrival” vouchers (US$25/£15 for 30 days) at Garuda’s check-in counters.
Indonesian immigration officers board the flight, granting visas and carrying out passport checks at 30,000ft.
The carrier also offers the service on inbound flights from Amsterdam, Sydney (Australia), Seoul (South Korea) and Osaka (Japan) to Jakarta.
Passengers who clear immigration receive a pass card and can skip the queues on the ground by showing their card to officers.
We’d love to see other airlines show some initiative and follow suit.
Besides the view out of the plane window, Passport Control is our first impression of a country, after all.
Amateur footage posted on YouTube by a Garuda passenger shows immigration officers checking passports and visa applications on board: