A 16-year-old setting off on a dream holiday to Bali with a friend has had her trip ruined before it even began simply because of a "slightly" damaged passport.

Lexi Karakostas from Melbourne, was forced to spend 11 hours at an airport before boarding a flight home from Denpasar, after she was turned away from the immigration desk because of her torn travel document.

Lexi, whose passport was issued in 2017, had slight damage to the spine of the document before entering Indonesia. Upon arrival, she was stopped and questioned by immigration, who raised concern over the condition of the passport.

"The woman there said "look at the passport" to a man next to her and he took me to the immigration office," she told Daily Mail Australia.


Lexi, who was travelling to meet up with her friend's family, said she thought the incident had been resolved by the immigration officials. But upon further analysis, she was given the bad news.

"He said they were going to let me in but mark my passport so I couldn't come back again with it," she said.

"But then the first lady from the desk nudged him and they talked in Indonesian. Then he had me follow him inside the office."

The defect: A tear through Karakostas' passport denied her travel. Photo / Supplied
The defect: A tear through Karakostas' passport denied her travel. Photo / Supplied

There, Lexi claims she was told she wouldn't be able to enter the country with her current passport, and would be on a flight home to Melbourne instead.

"I was hysterical. I didn't know what to do," she said.

"It was scary, I was by myself in a country I'd never been in and didn't have my family or friend there. It was traumatising."

The teen's mother, Susan Karakostas, spoke to news.com.au and said she understands and respects the laws in Indonesia, but hopes her daughter's experience will stop others from making a similar mistake.

"I didn't even know her passport was damaged," Ms Karakostas told news.com.au.


"We had been in Europe and it seemed fine. But we respect their laws and regulations, and we are in no way upset with the government, but we want to warn others to be careful of damaged documents (when travelling)."

Ms Karakostas said the airport staff treated her daughter well during her overnight stay at Denpasar, and took every measure to ensure she got home safely from Indonesia.

"I wouldn't have sent her if I'd known the passport was damaged," she said.

"We think the seam damage may be from the E-Ticket machines, which have perhaps compromised the spine of the passport.

"But this is their law and we respect that. This is just a warning to others of what can happen."

Karakostas spent 11 hours in the airport after being unable to fly. Photo / Supplied, Facebook.com
Karakostas spent 11 hours in the airport after being unable to fly. Photo / Supplied, Facebook.com

More and more holiday-makers are making the mistake of travelling to Bali with a damaged passport, and getting a nasty surprise when they are turned away at the airport.


Last month, a man with a nine-year-old passport described as "slightly damaged" was stopped from boarding a Batik Air flight from Perth on Christmas Day, according to The West Australian.

The passenger was told by Batik Air staff that "Denpasar is enforcing a policy whereby if a passenger has the slightest imperfection with their passport, they will fine the airline US$5000 and send the passenger home".

The airline staff took the passenger's passport and photographed it and transmitted it to their office in Bali for approval but it was rejected as "too risky".

The man with the damaged passport was able to travel with his partner through Indonesia AirAsia.

His partner said Batik Air staff told her they had stopped 20 passengers with damaged passports from flying to Bali in the last month.

While Batik Air has not responded to inquiries, AirAsia has confirmed the tighter travel restrictions are in place.


Their experience comes after a British couple was denied entry to Bali in October while travelling on a passport that was slightly chewed by their dog.

British couple Daniel and Tia Farthing were stopped from going on their dream $7000 honeymoon in Bali because their dog had chewed a bit of the groom's passport.

Indonesian authorities now appear to be enforcing a $US5000 ($NZ 7333) fine on airlines if they bring passengers into the country with damaged passports.

Passengers are also refused entry.

Unfortunately it's not clear what level of damage is acceptable Batik Air appears to be acting cautiously.

When is a passport no longer fit to travel on?

Normal wear and tear is expected but serious damage to parts of your passport may prevent you from travelleling on it.


Liquids and waterdamage can cause your passport to be rejected by airlines or border agents.

The Department of Internal Affairs has warned that damage to the security chip in new passports may cause travellers to be refused permission to enter a country.

It's important that no pages have been removed, the personal details are legible and there is no sign of tampering with any pages or enty stamps in the book.

What to do if your passport is damaged?

According to New Zealand's Identity and Passport, travellers "can replace their passport online from anywhere in the world."

If your passport is damaged the DIA's Identity and Passport say it's important to let them know as soon as possible on 0800 22 50 50


Or + 64 (4) 463 9360 if overseas.

You will need the following details including your passport number, approximate date it was damaged, where and what happened.

A recent colour photo and details of a referee are also required.

To replace a standard adult passport costs NZD$180. An urgent adult passport costs from NZD$360.

More details can be found online here: passports.govt.nz/lost-stolen-or-damaged-passport/