Aussie kicked out of Bali over tiny detail

Matt Vandenberg was detained before he could enter Bali for a shockingly minor reason that will potentially cost him thousands.

It started just like any other holiday, and there were no early signs that anything would go wrong.

The 29-year-old Sydneysider passed Australia’s security checks with zero issues and boarded a routine Jetstar flight.

He was making a big trip to Indonesia to celebrate his mate’s wedding. A bunch of his friends were also headed over and it was set to be the holiday of a lifetime but things quickly went south.

He found himself in hot water as soon as he arrived at Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport.

He was detained and banned from leaving the airport and wasn’t even allowed to step foot in the country.

So what got him banned?

A tiny tear in his passport was the culprit and it was enough to stop him setting foot on Indonesian soil.

“So I arrived at DPS, paid my visa, presented my passport, and get brought over to the immigration office who alerted me I have a 1cm tear on my passport page. To be fair, he is correct. I had no idea until he bent it all the way back, and it stood out. You couldn’t see it any other way,” he tweeted.

The young Aussie was then brought into an office and told that because of the tiny tear, he wouldn’t be accepted into the country, and his passport was confiscated until he was put on a flight back to Australia.

“I’m shattered at the possibility that I’m going to miss my mate’s wedding,” he told

Vandenberg explained that he wasn’t disputing “the tear” but also pointed out that “it wasn’t even noticeable until you bent it back, and the immigration officers in Sydney were fine when they scanned it.”

Australian customs thought of his slightly damaged passport didn’t seem to matter — but Indonesian officials weren’t playing around, and Vandenberg spent hours and hours at the airport being guarded the entire time.

The whole experience was a far cry from the exotic and fun holiday that Vanderberg was expecting.

“I spent 12 hours in the air, including a red-eye flight (a flight that departs at night and arrives the next morning) and 17 hours in the airport,” he said. “I am feeling pretty drained.”

While he was stuck at the airport, he was guarded by police officers who had to babysit him and make sure he didn’t try to escape to his planned holiday.

The experience was “grim and exhausting” but Vandenberg admitted things could have been far worse.

“The policemen were the nicest people you could meet,” he said.

He has now flown back to Australia and spent another seven hours on a plane. It isn’t all bad news though he is hopeful he’ll have his passport sorted and be able to return to make it to his mate’s wedding.

“It’s probably a good warning for people travelling to Indonesia — they do not mess around,” he tweeted.

He has applied for an emergency passport and is hoping to fly back tomorrow.

So how much is the error costing him? Well, he reckons he’ll be out of pocket at least $1500.


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