Four Airlines In One Day: Tiger

TigerBoardingPass There's a weird seating coincidence and an overheated boarding, but Tiger delivers the goods. The Four Airlines challenge continues from Adelaide to Hobart.

The flight: Tiger TT822 Adelaide-Hobart

The cost: $65.94

The airside experience: Tiger has a very minimal installation at Adelaide — a pair of 'soft' check-in counters, no kiosks, no lounge. So for the first time today I've got no choice but to queue and get my boarding pass. I only have to queue for five minutes, though, which is nothing — bag drop in Sydney usually takes longer than that.

The demeanour of my check-in dude might charitably be described as sullen, but the task is done in double-quick time. And while I might not have a power outlet, Internode offers free Wi-Fi throughout Adelaide Airport, so I don't have to be let down by Vodafone once again, and there's plenty of free seating.

After clearing security and posting about the Virgin flight, I foolishly decide to let Windows install some patches — a decision I regret when the PC refuses to reboot and insists on a system rollback. I've held off adding Windows 7 to this machine just in case it messes up some of the 3G broadband software, but at this stage that now looks like a sensible move (too much time has been wasted and the 3G software seems rooted anyway). In any case, I end up simultaneously watching Windows restore itself and wolfing down some Hungry Jacks, with the result I don't actually head to my gate until they call the flight (which happens on time).

Gate processing is quick, but there's a long queue of people waiting to actually board the plane (I'm guessing everyone has lots of carry-on to dodge extra charges). Unfortunately, Adelaide has particularly long, glass-sided aerobridges, and they're stinking hot today — not the nicest way to start the flight.

The onboard experience: Once on-board, there was a weird seating coincidence. On Jetstar, I was in seat 4F (a window seat which I'd chosen myself when I booked). On Virgin, I also got assigned to seat 4F. When I checked in for Tiger, I got seat 4A — same row, just the opposite window seat. But when I boarded, seats 4A and 4C were occupied by a couple travelling with two small babies who had inadvertently sat on the wrong side of the plane. So I cheerfully agreed to shift over rather than force them to move, and ended up in 4F again.

Coincidence aside, I have a spare seat next to me: despite the apparent luggage kerfuffle, the plane doesn't look even two-thirds full. It's an A320 (like my Jetstar flight), though it feels like there's a fraction more leg room — at least until the person in front tries to recline. Not much chance with my knees in the way, love.

More importantly, there's a pull-out tray table, so working on my PC is a much more comfortable choice. As it happens, there's no free in-flight magazine, so it's also the best use of my time.

Food pricing is virtually the same as Virgin and Jetstar, and the range is also near-identical (though soup is the only 'meal' option). Presumably each airline watches competitor prices closely, and in practice they might well get their food from the same suppliers. The $3.50 cappuccino I sample for comparative purposes is certainly the same drink as on Jetstar, though the menu mercifully doesn't describe it in such fulsome terms. Unlike the sullen check-in guy, the onboard staff are cheerful and helpful.

Overall: I had pretty low expectations of Tiger — I figured this might be the kind of it's-cheap-don't-whine non-service that typifies UK budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet, with which I'm all too familiar. In fact, there was virtually nothing different to what I experienced on Jetstar and Virgin, other than the slow boarding (and the cardboard boarding pass). Now there's only Qantas (back to Sydney via Melbourne) left on the menu.

Follow Angus Kidman's Four Airlines In One Day experiment in real time on Twitter by searching for #4airlines.

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Comments

    I've had a much less err... pleasant experience with Tiger. Booked tickets from Perth to Adelaide months in advance, due to fly out about midnight on a Friday night. I drive 2 hours to Perth, line up to check in, and get told 'flight has been cancelled' apparently they only have one plane, and for some reason it was still in Adelaide. They gave no reason.
    They just handed us a refund form. We sent it back to them to get our money back, and 3 months later they are still 'processing' it.
    I just think it would have been nice had they given us some advance warning that our flight had been cancelled, instead of waiting for us to drive 2 hours to the airport and just tell us 'oh, btw your flight has been cancelled'.
    I won't be flying Tiger again.

      Flew with Tiger to Melbourne from Adelaide this past weekend, with a planned return on Sunday night.

      Flight over on Friday wasn't too bad, checkin at Adelaide airport was swift, and the plane departed and landed on time. Big surprise was walking on the tarmac at Melbourne airport and then into a literal tin shed for arrivals! Man Tiger has got the short end of the straw there...

      Sunday night home wasn't so good. Arrived at the airport with plenty of time to checkin, went to Tiger's lonely tiny terminal for departures, and discovered a HUGE queue and my flight not on the departures board.

      After hearing vague rumours of cancellation from some people in the queue, a PA announcment 10 minutes later confirmed it - the flight to Adelaide was cancelled. We were advised to stay in the checkin line (it was long) and ask about rescheduled flights when we reached the desk.

      The 8.40pm flight was rescheduled for 8am this morning (Monday), and the checkin clerk asked if we needed accommodation - this is after I'd already called my relatives in Melbourne (who we'd been visiting) trying to work out a way to get back to them that evening and then back to the airport in early morning.

      Tiger kindly put us all up (that's a plane load of people) at the Mantra hotel, about 2.5km from the airport. It's quite a nice hotel. The rooms were good, and we only had to pay for food (if we wanted it) and a shuttle bus back to the airport ($6).

      So despite the inconvenience, I am happy with the way Tiger handled the situation - I've had a delayed flight by Rex (Albury -> Melbourne) cause me to miss a connecting flight to Adelaide, meaning I had to stay there overnight, and they were just as gracious with the hotel, but also included a meal for me.

      Tiger are cheap, so you have to put up with some drawbacks, but the way this overnight delay was handled I can't really fault - I've heard other horror stories of cancelled flights not being rescheduled and no accomodation offered, so I was genuinely surprised and pleased when they gave us rooms for the night at no cost.

      A little more sleep this morning would have been nicer, but getting home by 9.30am (to then start work, just a little late) is better than being stuck in another city with no real easy way of getting home cheaply.

    Tiger are horrific. you are lucky to get off so light

    Just you try to contact their service desk. No luck even trying to find a number. Tiger are a horrible airline and i refuse to take it ever.

    Just a note in your reference to running Windows 7 on your Laptop. Your photos looks like you have a R600. If it is one with the built in 3G then that works in Windows 7 inc x64. I run a R500 which I think may use the same Novatel unit and I have my 3G working under Win 7 x64.

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