Younger siblings – little brothers or sisters, can be annoying, seemingly going about things the wrong way and sometime acting as if they have no idea at all! Then suddenly they grow up, aren’t nearly as embarrassing as usual and work alongside others 🙂 This is what I feel has happened with Tigerair, since Virgin Australia has bought into it.
If you’ve read my blog before, you know I don’t mind a low cost carrier and find the user pays system works well as long as you do things right. When I was planing a weekend in Melbourne recently, I came across a sale with Tigerair for Melbourne to Sydney flights for $40.56 and I managed to book one of these special fares. During the booking process, there were, of course, plenty of add-ons to be had such as luggage, a meal combo, seat requests, insurance and even a fee if you were not paying with a debit MasterCard – luckily I was paying with a debit MasterCard and I didn’t add a single thing on so my total was exactly what the sale said – $40.56.
Check this out:
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Tigerair operate from Terminal 4 (T4) – the low cost carrier terminal or ‘tin shed’ as I’ve heard it called – located at the southern end of the terminal, a short walk from the main building. There is a bit of construction happening at the moment as the Airport improves the pick up and drop of area around T4.
With Tigerair being the only airline using the terminal at present, all the check-in counters were occupied by Tigerair staff. There was a slight line snaking through the building, but as I only had hand baggage I was able to check-in at a dedicated ‘hand baggage’ counter. When I approached the counter about 2.5 hrs prior to my flight, the check-in agent informed me that check-in for that flight would not commence until 2 hours prior but he politely said he’d do it for me then. I presented my ticket and photo ID – something Tigerair ask you to have or you may be charged a fee.
The terminal wasn’t as bad as I expected. there was enough seating for at least a couple of flight and a cafe selling airport priced snacks and drinks at one end and a newsagent at the other. I purchased a sushi roll $2.90 and a 600ml bottle of coke $4.90 and sat and waited for boarding to commence.
Boarding was announced on time and those who had a pre-boarding card were asked to come to the front of the growing line. Although I understand people want to be first on board to put their belongings in the overhead lockers, and even more so when they are travelling with carry on only, it still fascinates me why people feel the need to form a line half an hour before boarding – they already have a seat assignment!
Obviously I thoroughly enjoyed the walk across the tarmac or apron to the waiting aircraft, an Airbus a320, one of twelve, 180 seat all economy class configured aircraft the airline operates from its Australian bases. Upon boarding I was warmly welcomed and directed to my assigned seat – 12A.
Speaking of seat assignments, I hadn’t pre-booked a seat during the online booking process and yet while I checked in the check-in agent offered me an exit row seat. I guess it was because I fit the age and description of someone able to assist in the event that emergency exit needs to be opened. I was pleasantly surprised with the seat pitch of the exit row seats, were as the rest of the cabin had a 30″ / 76.2 cms pitch, the exit row was more close to 34″ / 86.4 cms.
The flight was only half full and after the emergency row special briefing from one of the cabin crew members we headed to the runway for a quick departure from Melbourne.
Directly after take off, I found myself flicking through the inflight menu deciding what to have. Being a low cost carrier, meals , drinks and snacks are not included in the fare but are available for purchase. In fact, during the online booking process there was an option to add a combo meal – fresh sandwich, wrap or hot Turkish roll with a soft drink and a packet of grain waves crisps – for $13, saving $1 from purchasing it on board. The menu also features the ‘tiger shop’ where travel related items such as ear phones or adapters, stuffed toys or model aircraft are available for purchase.
When the trolley hit my row, I purchased a Matua New Zealand white wine – $9.00. I inquired after the model aircraft, however they weren’t yet available for purchase on board, so I settled for the stuffed toy – “I’ll just pop up the front and get Toby for you” the flight attendant quipped when I asked for the stuffed tiger, whom I now know as ‘Toby’….
The flight went smoothly, the crew polite and although not too chatty or bubbly like their sometimes effervescent bigger sibling Virgin Australia. We arrived a full 30 minutes early into Sydney and after disembarking the aircraft while on stand off and making my way into the Virgin Australia part of Terminal 2, I couldn’t help but wonder how far this airline has come – Tigerair is now a well behaved little brother and has a fitting place in the Australian aviation landscape.