Lion Air Invocation Card. Indonesia, March 2013.

Say Your Prayers on Lion Air (bis)

  Indonesia: Weda [Halmahera] + Bangka [Sulawesi] - March 2013

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

The Indonesian company Lion Air has a unique trick. In the seat pocket, along with the safety instructions, there is a booklet of special prayers for the plane.

Invocation Card

It can be surprising. The Indonesian low-cost company Lion Air may be modernizing and equipping itself with brand new planes, but it continues to offer passengers, in the seat pocket, a booklet that seems to me to be from another age. Entitled Doa-Doa Perjalanan / Invocation Card, it contains prayers, for all religions.

Comforting for some, surely... But praying for the sky to be favorable, for the plane to work well and for the crew to bring the plane and all its passengers to a safe destination, I doubt very much that it will have any impact on the flight. Anyway, it can't hurt...

I had already talked about it on this blog, during my very first trip to Sulawesi in 2007:

→ How Effective Prayers Are on Lion Air

Each time, I am amused to discover this booklet of prayers. This does not prevent me from respecting the beliefs of others, whatever they may be, as long as none are imposed on me.

Lion Air, the rising airline

With Air AsiaLion Air is the company I have taken most often, for my travels in the huge Indonesian archipelago.

Lion Air. Jakarta airport. Java, Indonesia. March 2013.
Lion Air planes at the Jakarta airport. Java, Indonesia, March 2013.

Lion Air is beginning to seriously compete with Air Asia in Indonesia, both in terms of prices and routes (as of June 2013, they had 36 destinations and 226 daily flights on their website).

The company has grown significantly in recent years and continues to expand and renew its fleet (including the purchase of Airbus aircrafts to France).

Lion Air Routes. March 2013.

During my March 2013 trip to IndonesiaSo I flew on Lion Air again, like almost every time I went there! On the way to Halmahera (Jakarta-Ternate flight), then to join Sulawesi (flight Ternate-Manado), where my final destination was the island of Bangka.

But... the blacklist?

I've often been asked this question... At the time I published this article (2013), all Indonesian airlines were blacklisted, except for Garuda (the national carrier) and Air Asia Indonesia (the Malaysian lowcost carrier that is expanding all over Asia). But in a few years, things have fortunately evolved in the right direction. I made two updates recently:

UPDATE 2018 : on June 14, 2018, ALL Indonesian companies were REMOVED from the European Union's blacklist. You can consult the list directly on the website of the French government here → June 2018: the blacklist of banned airlines in the EU., as well as on the website of the European Commission → Air safety: press release.

UPDATE 2017 : Lion Air is no longer on the European Union's blacklist of banned airlines (the complete list is available in PDF to download on the website of the European Commission). This post was first published in 2013 and since then, safety has improved, in the Indonesian sky! So, among the commercial passenger airlines complying with EU safety standards, there are now:
→ Garuda Indonesia and its low-cost subsidiary Citilink
→ Air Asia Indonesia

→ Lion Air and its subsidiary Batik Air

When I travel in Indonesia, I try as much as possible to fly on the most reliable companies. But to reach some parts of the archipelago, we don't always have the choice, Garuda doesn't fly everywhere. So yes, I have flown in the past with companies that were blacklisted.

I add in passing this link from SlateA very interesting article, signed in 2013 by the "Breton-Indonesian" journalist Gurvan KristanadjajaThis article provides a good overview of Lion Air's development and the Indonesian airline market:
→ Indonesia, the country of low-cost aviation

Batavia, which was one of the few not to be blacklisted, went bankrupt early 2013 I was supposed to take one of their flights, precisely, for this trip in March 2013... Too bad for me, I had already bought my ticket. With the "bangkrut" I had to sit on it and buy another ticket. Only Lion Air was operating the route on the day and time that was convenient for me, so I opted again for a flight with a prayer booklet included.

Too bad for Lion Air that there was this failed landing in Baliin April 2013. I admit, I shuddered in retrospect, when I came back from Indonesia... But according to the testimony of a French passenger, row 26 brings good luck

UPDATED OCTOBER 2018 : a Lion Air aircraft crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from Jakarta on October 29, 2018. It is chilling... It had 189 people on board. Lion Air had only had one previous fatal accident, in 2004: an MD-82 crashed on landing in Solo City, Java, killing 25 of the 163 people on board, according to the Aviation Safety Network. of the Flight Safety Foundation.

Anyway, my flight from Ternate to Manado went perfectly well. I was a bit sad to leave Weda, but Bangka did not disappoint me... More in the next post!


  Indonesia: Weda [Halmahera] + Bangka [Sulawesi] - March 2013

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  1. So much talk for a small detail, there are 200 million Muslims in Indonesia and this invocation card is not for the few arrogant French atheists who will occasionally take one of the 200 A320s that Lion Air has just ordered from my ex-employer for the modest sum of 18 billion dollars.

    Even when they travel the French definitely seem to be vaccinated against humility and that's also why I don't plan to go back to live in France after two months in Indonesia... so long / byebye! 😈

    1. @Yannick: why so much anger?

      This "Invocation Card" reflects a reality of Indonesia, namely the coexistence of different faiths throughout the archipelago (Muslims and Christians for the most represented, and, in a lesser proportion, Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians). Lion Air has taken this into account in this prayer booklet (by including the religions officially recognized by the State), which I find rather interesting to note.

      This card is a "small detail", certainly, but an original one, all the same. I don't know of any other company that mixes religion and aeronautics in this way... (But perhaps there are others around the world?) In short, it's just this aspect that makes me smile, without arrogance or cynicism, and in respect of all beliefs.

      As I flew again on this company during my last stay, this "detail" of the prayer booklet simply served me as a starting point, here, to evoke the lightning development of Lion Air in Indonesia. Development which is not at all a detail, in my humble opinion, for those who wish to travel in the archipelago, whether they are French, foreign or Indonesian travelers.


    1. @Lilynomade : yes, for my part, I have never had to complain about Lion Air. I'm not a specialist in air safety, and I know there was that accident in Bali recently (which fortunately didn't cause any casualties), but Lion Air is the up-and-coming airline in Indonesia and we can assume that their vigilance regarding the safety of the planes will go in the same direction.

      Have a good trip! 🙂

  2. "I don't know of any other company that mixes religion and aeronautics in this way..."
    From memory the now defunct Batavia broadcast a prayer before takeoff 😮 . Not just the booklet eh, but the whole thing, with recorded tape... it didn't necessarily bring them luck. (another proof that God doesn't exist would say a convinced atheist like my apple 😈 ... very very useful this smiley with two little goat horns...)

    I also remember a local company that broadcast a Christian prayer, but I can't put a name on it anymore. Maybe LAM, the Mozambique company... which must be 10 times less safe than LionAir, btw. 🙄

    On the other hand, there is a lot of hype about the Bali incident, but this could be put into perspective by recalling the ole ole landing in Toronto in 2005 of a certain European national airline flight. They didn't do any better than LionAir it seems... 😕

    1. @Ludovic/Luko: I've taken Batavia once or twice in the past, and I don't remember that recorded prayer... Must have slipped my mind. Thanks for the mention of other companies, interesting... : Mrgreen: (I like that smiley face too 😆 )

      For the rest, yes, I relativize, too ... For Toronto, I did not remember this incident, I guess you're talking about this:
      I also keep in mind the tragic fate of the passengers boarded on the Air France 447 Rio-Paris 2009 flight ...

  3. very interesting article, even if the first reaction to the sight of a prayer booklet in an airplane would be to flee in my case (I want to get off!!! 😮 ), it's quite funny in fact, a little fatalistic side, the divine will.....

    1. @Laurence: yes, very Asian, this "fatalistic" side... On the contrary, as I often flew on Lion Air, I have a feeling of familiarity almost reassuring, when I find this famous booklet of prayers at disposal...

  4. Yeah me too, it would make me get off the plane with this prayer booklet... unless I know that the company is blacklisted in that case, I think I would be so scared that I would concentrate on this booklet rather than on the trip hoping to find faith! Anyway, it doesn't always go badly, proof you're still here to tell us that funny detail! 😡

    1. @Ollie: as I explained, almost all airlines are blacklisted in Indonesia. Depending on where you want to go in this huge archipelago, you don't necessarily have the choice of airline.

      If there is no connection available with Garuda or Air Asia (which are not blacklisted), you have to resign yourself to fly with another airline (or not fly at all and give up the destination). In general, I try to choose "the least worst"...

      Lion Air progresses. Maybe she will come out one day from this famous blacklist?

  5. Ah ah... as you said Corinne, a little prayer can't hurt (it can even become a marketing gimmick).
    You have to know how to live dangerously. D

  6. By default all Indonesian companies are blacklisted by the EU unless they take an expert authorized by the EU who conducts an audit and makes a certification. The EU does not trust the Indonesian DGCA. A mistake in your text: AiIrAsia Indonesia is not on it. The AirAsia group flies in Europe (the affiliate AirAsiaX, which is Malaysian and soon ThaiAirAsia X) and is very concerned about its reputation and therefore pays the auditor. Liuonair didn't care about this list, since they don't fly in the EU. They are now known worldwide with their orders, and it is possible that they decide to give money to an auditor.
    As far as the prayer is concerned, it also existed on Merpati or Sempati 20 years ago and maybe still exists, but not on Garuda. And we don't see that either in Malaysia, a very muslim country. The muezzin at take-off on Jazeera Airways (low-cost airline from Kuwait) also surprised me.

    So, I find Yannick a bit aggressive. And when I recounted like you the Merpati prayer card, it made the Singaporeans, the Thais and the Malaysians that I know laugh. Not only arrogant and atheistic little Frenchmen ...

    1. @Jeff: Air Asia is the company on which I probably flew the most... And I even tested Air Asia X at the time of the short-lived Paris-KL route in 2011... 😉
      But read again above: I did write that Air Asia (and Garuda) were not on the blacklist.

      Thank you for your testimony about praying on other companies twenty years ago. One can indeed smile, without disrespecting others or their religion.

    2. And yes Corinne in each country there are small traditions ....
      Anyway, you have to stay zen and when you travel you have to adapt to the conditions of the country otherwise you stay at home ............
      And then the country is so pretty, the people friendly and communicative that the problems of displacement are missing for my part.

      It's true that this booklet inside the flights was the first time I saw that especially since I work for Air France !!!

      But in Brazil it's "Meu Deus" for everything and nothing.

      It is sure that the safety standards are not the same between emerging countries and the big western countries .................. It is us who created all these protective standards.

      Looking forward to reading you.

  7. Hello Corinne, these comments are no longer relevant, since Lion Air is no longer blacklisted since 2017, like many other Indonesian companies. I have to leave with a friend in October and take a flight between Bali and Flores, no conflicting information on the subject. Regarding the famous booklet, it is rather anecdotal and touching than anything else, it does not concern me because I am agnostic, so...
    Good continuation and I am also a diver and I have traveled the world on my two sailboats. I am no longer a sailor but a landlubber because I am getting a bit old...