Regrets or No Regrets? Flying Tiger Australia after a six year absence

Some Background:

With a Low-Cost Carrier, you always get what you pay for. Last time, I tried to fly Tiger, I discovered to my chagrin, they close their check-in time 15 minutes earlier than any other airline in Australia! I missed the flight by two minutes and I have not been near them for six years!

Today’s flight was a return trip from Melbourne to Canberra in Australia.

My trepidation

Tiger has had a reputation for poor customer service, extensive nickel and diming, delayed flights and lost luggage. So it was with some trepidation that I stepped onto a Tiger plane after six years…

Booking: 10/10

Tiger has been slowly rebuilding its services and now connects 13 Australian destinations. They re-commenced flights into Canberra in November 2016 which brought the welcome return of a discount carrier to Australia’s capital city which “enjoys”  some of the most expensive air services in Australia.

The Tiger website has a very smooth and simple interface. It was a pleasure to use.


I chose a “light fare” and added an emergency exit seat in Row 1 for $15 which made me eligible for Tiger’s early boarding called “Queue Jump”. Extras such as meals, additional luggage allowances, early boarding, and insurance can be added during the booking process. I never check luggage in which added to my savings.

My flight one way was very cheap at $84 for the sectors compared to Virgin’s $179 and Qantas $234 each way fares. My return trip was about the same as a one-way fare on Virgin.

Check-In: 10/10

I was very impressed with Tiger’s online check-in. It worked very smoothly and I had a Boarding Pass emailed to me within seconds. An innovation compared to my last experience with them. Online check-in opens 72 hours prior to departure and closes one hour before the flight. The airline also has self-service check-in booths at Melbourne airport Terminal Four which seemed to work well, even for the many irregular passengers who seem to use Tiger.

Domestic bag drop closes 45 minutes prior to scheduled departure.

I arrived at the airport in plenty of time and passed through security pretty quickly. One disadvantage of Tiger’s many infrequent travelers is that many are not familiar with the security processes which can slow things down.

At the entrance to the Tiger gate area, two staff were poised with luggage scales, pouncing on anyone who looked like they had a bag heavier than the seven kilograms carry-on limit.Passengers with heavier bags had to check their bags in then and there and pay a hefty luggage fee. One girl was in tears as I went past. Other passengers were more stoic.


The bag fee would have made my fare $159 and almost rendered my choice to fy Tiger over Virgin on price grounds null and void! Be warned.


I had no access to a lounge which considering how little I was paying was fair enough! My Emerald One World frequent flyer status, however, allows me access to a Qantas lounge when I am flying with Qantas subsidiary Jetstar.  I have Gold status with Virgin but they do not extend the same courtesy to their Tiger subsidiary.

Boarding: 8/10

Tiger had two clearly marked lines for boarding. One line for passengers who had purchased “Queue Jump”, and the regular line. I was very glad to be in the shorter boarding line and as a result was one of the very first passengers to board the plane.

At both Canberra and Melbourne, boarding and deplaning was via stairs. I was greeted warmly by the crew on both occasions. I was bemused to be welcomed on one of the flights by a staff member I recognized from their Qantas days!

Boarding was pretty rapid. I noted the cabin manager upon request,  on one flight, moved passengers from their regular seats to the front row for no charge. I guess they were lucky. It does grate on me when I have paid for the extra legroom! When it is me, of course, I am very happy to accept a mini “upgrade”! So my “outrage” is hypocritical.

On Board: 6/10

Tiger is a one class airline. I thought their cabin colour scheme was a little dull. I would have expected Tiger paw prints and stripes through the plane. Unlike Ryanair and Air Asia, there were no advertisements adorning the luggage lockers.

The Airbus 320 has 180 seats. 126 seats are “standard” seats with a seat pitch of 30″. Eighteen seats (front row and the two overwing exits) are designated extra Leg Room’ seats and 36 are “Up Front” seats. I was very glad of my leg room even on a one hour flight.

Safety: 7/10

An airline crew member ran through the safety briefing with the other cabin crew illustrating the safety features.  On one of my two flights, a crew member ran through the safety procedures for the emergency exit but this did not happen on the other flight.


Take off

Meals: 3/10

There are of course no meals included with a Tiger ticket. Food, drink and souvenirs can be purchased on board. I bought a drink on one sector to test the service.

Entertainment: 1/10

Tiger does not have any wifi onboard, and of course no in built entertainment system. The cabin manager on one flight actually passed me a newspaper to read. I would have thought Tiger could make some good money from selling wifi and Netflix programming.

Tiger’s in-flight magazine


There is always the view to enjoy


At both ends, I had a fairly long walk from aeroplane into terminal. No wait for luggage meant that I got out of the terminal very quickly.

I had great views of Canberra as we came in.

The Verdict

My Flight Rating: 55%

About the Airline: 

Virgin has fully owned its own Low-Cost Carrier TigerAirways Australia since 2014. Tiger started as a subsidiary of Singapore and commenced services in the Australian domestic airline market on 23 November 2007.

They were grounded for six weeks in 2011 for breaching Australian safety laws. I have not flown them since that grounding after I was denied check-in for being two minutes late for an almost empty flight!

Tiger in Asia has been folded into Scoot which I have flown a few times now.

Skytrax: Skytrax does not rate them. Skytrax customers give them 5/10

My overall rating of  Tiger: 54% compared with my rating of 92% for Qantas, 62% for Jetstar and 90% for Virgin Australia.

Safety Rating: Airline ratings gives them 5 out of 7

Frequent Flyer Program: Virgin Australia customers can use their points to purchase seats on Tiger but there is no opportunity to earn frequent flyer points with this airline.

Positive: Booking system, Check in

Negatives:  Entertainment

Would I fly them again? For a short trip, I thought they were fineSo yes I would fly them again on a flight under two hours where there is a substantial saving compared to their competitors.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.