At the risk of being boring, I thought I might set out a few observations about Tiger.
Our trip with them to and from Cairns was the first time we’d flown with them. I know that Tiger had reputational issues in the past, and this had affected my decisions in days gone by, but it does seem to me that the worst is behind them.
At the outset, they’re a “low cost carrier”, and frankly I couldn’t discern any real difference between Tiger and Jetstar. No doubt both have good days and not-so-good days, so it’s a little harsh on an airline to judge it on the basis of a single bad experience (not that we’ve had any really bad experiences), when the statistics suggest that there isn’t a lot of difference between Jetstar and Tiger. I base this on the fact that in June, Tiger’s punctuality was not as good as Jetstar’s (73.2% arrivals on time for Tiger vs 87.1% for Jetstar), but Jetstar had significantly more cancellations (122 for Jetstar, 49 for Tiger). I suppose it depends on what you value more, but given that I’d prefer to arrive late rather than not at all, at least one way of looking at these figures is to call it a “line ball”.
I do wonder why LCCs aim for 45 minute turn-arounds. Are the benefits of a little extra utilisation of an aircraft on good days really so significant as to off-set the issues that come about when the inevitable delays occur?
Check in for us in Melbourne was a breeze, as it was all self-service with no queues. However, as I’ve mentioned, because we weren’t able to pre-print our boarding passes, check-in at Cairns was a bit of a pain.
I had also been a bit annoyed, when there was an itinerary change, to lose our pre-allocated seats (for which we’d paid) without notification. I’m not sure if this is an issue limited to Tiger, however.
Food isn’t a big deal for us on domestic flights, and my perception is that there isn’t much of a difference between Tiger and Jetstar in this regard (although of course, Qantas and Virgin don’t charge, but that’s not to say that you get very much).
I did notice that in both Melbourne and Cairns, Tiger were weighing most cabin baggage. Given this, how it is that the passenger sitting in front of us on one sector was able to bring an enormous carry-on bag on to the plane isn’t clear to me. On a related note, in the check-in queue at Cairns, a passenger ahead of us was handing over a number of $50 notes, presumably as a consequence of not being aware of the consequences of not pre-purchasing the right to check-in baggage (no sympathy, surely everyone knows that’s how low-cost carriers work?).
One Melbourne-specific issue is that at Terminal 4, the Jetstar gates really are a great distance away from the check-in area, and there are no moving walkways.
Who will we fly with next time? The short answer is, I have no loyalty, I’ll fly with whoever offers the best combination of price, convenient timings and service (yes, that’s a reference to Qantas and Virgin as well as Jetstar’s location in Terminal 4). I usually use Webjet to compare). And if the outcome is that Qantas or Virgin are competitive – as they sometimes are – then naturally I’ll fly with them.