October 2, 2009

Fly on the Tiger... (Trip Report)


AIRCRAFT: Airbus A320

I arrived at the airport well in time to check in ahead of Tiger's strict 45-min cutoff policy. There were only a few people in front of me, so five minutes later I was at the front of the queue.

I was greeted by a friendly older lady, who asked me for my ID. (Being a smart traveller, I put my airline ID in the license holder of my wallet, hehe) This garnered me a plum exit-row seat (on the aisle no less) without having to pay the $25 exit row fee, or the $5 seat selector fee which normally apply. There was a motive on her part though- current rules require a certain amount of passengers to be seated in 'self-help' exit rows.

As I was playing within the rules and only had a carry-on bag, she checked the bag complied with the 7kg limit, and gave me a tag to attach to my bag so that gate staff would know it was ok to board.

I also had a handbag but they didn't seem to notice/care about that. This bag contained my netbook, bottle of water and other similar items which would have certainly put my rollaboard over 7kgs. But noticed most of the other passengers had handbags or laptop bags as well. If they were on the smaller side, they didn't seem to have tags.

Once she gave me my boarding pass (the scannable kind which look like a supermarket receipt)

I headed through security. Aside from a bunch of foreigners thinking it was ok to cut the line while I was about to put my bag on the belt, security screening went without a hitch. I got pulled aside for the screening test, signed my name, and on my way to the departure lounge.

In the lounge I bought a couple of magazines & some water, then browsed the books to pass some time. Soon it was time to board. Our flight was boarding via the tarmac, front & rear stairs according to seat row. This was when I had an interesting exchange with a member of Tiger staff. I took a photo of our plane (flash off of course as it was night time)

and immediately was pretty much shouted at. When I asked what the problem was, she rather rudely informed me that taking photos on the tarmac is not allowed. (More on this issue later-I'm currently following it up with the airport authorities, as I have worked at this airport and there was never a no-photo policy for other than commercial use)

Once on the plane, I stowed my bag & rollaboard in the overhead locker, and took my seat in the exit row, reading the briefing card like a good little passenger.

One of the cabin crew came over to give the exit briefing, while it covered the main points I did note there was no advice on what to do should the exit be unsafe, other than not to open it. Personally, I brief the passenger if an exit is unsafe they must not let anyone exit and direct them to the nearest exit being used. I guess Tiger like to keep basic with this as well as their service.

Here are a few observations from my two sectors with Tiger:

* Seat pitch is pretty cramped. Worse when the person in front slams their seat back the instant the seatbelt sign goes off. When my seat was fully reclined, the (empty) seat next to me was only about 3 inches ahead. According to their website, Tiger's seat pitch on the A320 is 72.5 cm for standard rows. I think they've measured this in the reclined position, as it doesn't look like 72cm when the seats are upright.

Here's a picture taken from the side.

My netbook is only about 8 to 9 inches long from front (screen) to back, and was resting right up on the seatback in front. I wasn't leaning forward, so you can see there isn't much room. I had to prop my elbow up just to type. It wwasn't very comfortable. I suggest don't work on Tiger flights! :P

* If you're right handed & want to use a laptop, go for a seat on the RHS, sitting in the A seat means you can hardly type, without getting pins and needles, especially if the seatback in front is also reclined all the way.

*There was a giant wad of chewy on my tray table, and in both airsick bags in the seat pocket. Menu card wass really tatty. Tiger would do well to spend the extra 10c laminating each card, instead of having to replace them all the time. Crew were obliging when I asked for wipes to clean table, but didn't take them away again. I had to go to the lav to dispose of my trash as only one trash run was done on the whole flight- understandable on a SYD-CBR perhaps but not a 3 hour flight.

* Although the cabin crew walk around while the seatbelt sign is on, at least they DO enforce it, asking pax who stand up to be seated until it is off.

* For a newish A320, the toilets sure reeked a lot! Not just 'during the flight' smell, but the deeply-ingrained smell of pee that a men's toilet in a park might have. Not sure why this is, maybe they don't deep clean them very often. As you can see, the pee spends a bit of time on the floor of the lavatory.

* Service consists of one run-through with the carts (selling small snack items & some beverages)

followed by the trash cart. No more trash runs, even toward the end of the flight. Seeing as TT crew get comission on sales, you'd think it'd be worth one more quick run with the cart on night flights, as not everyone sleeps, and they'd make more money on sales. Not to mention that there's plenty of time on a 3 hour flight, and the crew seem quite bored (judging from the huge pile of magazines on the galley bench that even a well-read mag hostie would be amazed by)

* Another interesting thing to note: While soft drinks are served, the only choices are Coke, Diet Coke & Solo Lemon (like Lift or Mountain Dew). No lemonade to be seen. The Tiger website also advertises their menu as having the good old cheese & crackers pack that Virgin also sell. The crew tell me they haven't had them on board for quite some time, around 6 months I believe. Seemsan update is in order!

* With regard to alcoholic beverages, Tiger really cater to the 'bogan' stereotype, serving only wine or the pre-mixed bourbon & Coke in cans. Not even a pre-mix Smirnoff! What about vodka drinkers, Tiger??? While I'm sure they do very well with old Jim, it couldn't hurt to add vodka to cater to a wider audience.

RETURN FLIGHT NOTE: Check-in was fairly quick, although enforcement of the 7kg carry-on luggage limit seemed to be a bit hit and miss. Most of the check-in staff seemed oblivious to the old 'hide the bag' game, which I witnessed several passengers play as I waited in line. trust me, you wouldn't get away with that at Virgin! Tiger also make you put a tag on your bag which means it's passed the weight check at check in. The only fault with this system is I freely bought bottled water, several magazines and some food items which would have taken my bag above the 7kg limit. (Let's not talk about the handbag on my shoulder, which I would have happily given up for weighing if they had actually asked to) Then again, I don't think other airlines weigh bags after check-in, unless they're obviously heavy-looking or oversized.

Overall impressions? if you want to get somewhere cheaply, albeit a bit uncomfortably for my 5'5" frame, then Tiger is for you. The service is about what you'd expect at your local Coles, but then again there's not much chance for the crew to go 'above and beyond'.

If you want more comfort, a bit of a laugh and a reasonable selection of food, drinks & entertainment, fly Virgin. If you want better legroom on Virgin, book your trips on the Embraer E190 (no tv's but the legroom is way better than the 737, and leaps ahead of Tiger)

If you want pretty good seats, the chance to upgrade on points to 'real' business class and unlimited booze (between capital cities weekdays & Perth and everywhere else 7 days a week) fly Qantas' CityFlyer service.

Tiger: Cheap A-B, but they'll growl if you don't read the T&C's...

PS- Don't take photos... well, at least until we find out if this 'no-photo' policy is enforceable or not...

This one was in Adelaide, for testing purposes. Once again, Tiger staff pounced... Interesting, as photos on the tarmac have never been a problem when taking Virgin Blue or Qantas flights at this airport...

Adelaide Airport check-in area

Tiger check-in desks

Baggage collection


  1. In NYC you might have been assailed for photographs within the terminal itself as well.

  2. Another great trip report. I guess with LCCs you get what you pay for. I chuckled at the comparison with Coles :). Regarding Fin's statement, I have taken pics of jets while at JFK, though when you land there, a big no photo sign is in place!

  3. Fin, the only areas where you can't take photos by law is within Customs & Immigration. There's no signs which say so anywhere else... especially at the airports in question! Preliminary discussion with airport indicates the Tiger staff were in the wrong... stay tuned for definite verdict!

    AC, thanks glad you enjoyed it. Do you guys have Coles there? here, it's a supermarket :) Just sorry I couldn't get better pics of the A320

  4. Good to see that you are on the job!


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