Yesterday, Thursday 10 January 2008, I flew from Adelaide to Melbourne on Tiger Airways’ first flight for this route.
Tiger Airways is a Singapore-based low-cost airline hoping to become Australia’s third full-scale domestic airline after QANTAS and Virgin Blue. Tiger also flies to many Asian cities from its Singapore hub.
Tiger Airways’ Australian hub is Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine. From Melbourne Airport’s very basic Terminal 4 (T4; see photo at bottom), Tiger flies to several primary and secondary Australian domestic destinations including Adelaide (of course), Alice Springs, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast, Hobart, Launceston, Mackay, Newcastle, Perth, Rockhampton and Sunshine Coast. From Perth and Darwin, one can fly Tiger Airways onward to Singapore. Tiger does not yet fly to Australia’s busiest airport, Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International due to its high landing charges.
Tiger’s Adelaide destination was announced in November 2007. Upon hearing the news on the radio I turned on my laptop and checked their website, discovering fares to and from Melbourne for as low as AUD 9.95 inclusive of all taxes and fuel levies. I booked return flights for an almost unbelievable total of $22.90, including a $3.00 credit card fee.
The Tiger Airways check-in desk decorated with black and yellow balloons
Checking in at Adelaide Airport was very slow and it was obvious this was not only the airline’s also the check-in staff’s first flight. Beforehand, Tiger Airways had recommended passengers arrive to the airport 2 long hours prior to the scheduled departure time of 12:25.
My seat allocation was 7A, a window seat. I like window seats as I can watch the scenery outside.
Tiger Airways’ plane waits patiently at its gate whilst a Jetstar flight lands
A reasonable media contingent was on hand to watch the first flight leave
A photographer shooting photos of a family and their boarding passes
The boarding desk heaving under the weight of a stuffed tiger toy
After a departure delay caused by onboard computers malfunctioning due to 41 degree centigrade tarmac temperatures the flight eventually left. The inflight conditions were nothing special for people who have flown on low-cost carriers previously:
– Short seat pitch
– No free food and drinks
– No inflight entertainment except magazines to read
According to Tiger Airways’ inflight magazine Tiger Tales, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has a population of 621 million.
The detention-centre like conditions of T4, Melbourne Airport
Overall, if a prospective passenger can find a flight cheap enough, Tiger Airways is worth flying with. People requiring greater service, later check-in times and more convenience are advised to take an alternative airline. For $22.90 return, I cannot complain.