Tiger Wins Battle- Loses War

This is a Trip Report about my first Tiger Airways Australia flight after their recent resumption. Tiger was grounded by CASA, the Australian Air safety agency for six weeks for a number of offences. They only started flying again three weeks ago. Their CEO lost his job over the groundings.

I have previously rated Tiger very poorly and indicated I was not in a hurry to fly them again.

Today’s Trip Report:  Tiger Airways TT 618:  17:40h Melbourne to Sydney- which I missed. This is the sixth flight I have ever missed in my life.  This is not bad considering I have had 788 flights! On three occasions, missing the flights was not my fault but I do take responsibility for three!

Seconds, after booking my ticket on Tiger’s user unfriendly website, I got my travel confirmation. As a very frequent flyer, I have had a lot of these in the past and I admit I didn’t read it.  I filed it in my email and made sure it was entered onto my Tripit (see blog post on this useful travel app which creates your travel itineraries).
Yesterday,  I tried to use online check-in  but discovered  “Tiger Airways Australia’s Web Check-in service is temporarily unavailable, as this will allow us to more efficiently process refunds for affected passengers”. has shut their while they are rebuilding the airline.
This, of course, meant a check in at the airport. This made me a little nervous because of Tiger’s carry on luggage limit. On my fare, my carry on limit was 10kg. Confession Time:  I had one bag at 8kg and one at 5kg which means if they weighed my hand luggage, they may have demanded payment. I don’t mind paying- I just hate checking luggage in.
I knew Tiger has a really strict time cut off so I made sure I got to the airport before it.  Unfortunately I discovered on arrival at the airport that their cut off is 45 minutes NOT the thirty minutes I assumed it was. Qantas closes their flights 15 minutes (30 minutes with luggage) before the flight. At Jetstar its 30 minutes and Virgin recommends 30 minutes. Rex is 20 minute cut off in regional centres and 30 minutes in Capital cities. 
I and another gentleman arrived simultaneously 42 minutes before departure (16:58h) to find check in had closed. 3 minutes prior! 
The supervisor was unmoved: “on your ticket confirmation it says 45 minutes. Since the grounding we have to be very careful”
I said to him “45 minutes is not a CASA requirement
He said:  “Its our system. It closes automatically and I can’t get back into the system. We need that long to process things.
I said “thats not a friendly system!” How many empty seats have you got on the flight?
He said “A lot, but I can’t get you on
The other passenger,  a young student was close to tears:  “I have to be in Sydney tonight”
Our Tiger guy said: “there are no more flights tonight, For 85 dollars I can get you on the first flight tomorrow.”

Annoyed, I pulled the painful passenger attitude:  “For 109 dollars I can get a flight to Sydney with Virgin now.”

He shrugged. I should know better than to argue with an agent in this situation. You cannot win but I tried: “I fly 120 times a year. You can either get me on this flight now or I promise you I will never fly tiger again
He looked at me and said “if you had been here on time, I could have.  Check in opened two hours before departure
I said:  “I obviously wasn’t here, two hours before departure. So that comment isn’t helpful. Good Bye. You have lost me Tiger.”
I wheeled my bag to the Virgin Australia terminal next door and booked a $109 flight on my computer. I then checked in and was on the 18:15h flight which departed 35 minutes after my original flight.

Tiger Melbourne opening

I understand strict cut offs for check in. I acknowledge I need to check my travel confirmation more closely. Today, however, Tiger could have done better. Why could some allowance have not been made for the following reasons:

  • there were only  two passengers affected- in an empty check in area
  • it was a mere three minutes after check in has closed
  • both passengers were unaware of the 45 minute check in rule
  • Tiger have a need to rebuild a brand in Australia

If they had given me a polite warning about their strict check in policy and allowed me on, this would have resulted in:

  1. the young student and I getting to our destination
  2. less stress for us (and staff?) 
  3. taking up less time than the argument with the supervisor
  4. potentially keeping me as a customer (slim chance I know!)
  5. turning this blog into a more pedestrian Trip Report of a Melbourne-Sydney flight with Tiger Airways Australia

They may have won this battle but now? Nothing will get me back on Tiger’s crowded uncomfortable planes flying out of tacky cheap terminals! Their demise wont be missed a lot, I am sorry. 

For the record, my other missed flights have been:
1992
Qantas: Adelaide to Melbourne
I misread my paper ticket and arrived after the plane had left. Qantas put me onto the next flight.
2002
American Airlines: St Louis to Philadelphia
In the midst of the obsessive post 2001 obsession over security, I was scheduled to be processed for a special security check, The check took so long due to a shortage of staff, that I missed my flight even though I was checked in and in the airport. I talked myself onto the next flight
2010
United Airlines: Oklahoma City to Dallas
To be honest, I chose to be late to the airport for Social reasons! United put me on the next flight.

2004 and 2011
Southwest Airlines: Los Angeles
I missed my connections because my planes out of Australia were delayed- fog in 2004 and a failed engine in 2011. Southwest moved me onto next available flight.

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