Tigerair review: Melbourne to Sydney

Sometimes you get what you pay for, and with my latest Tigerair experience I got just that – delays, chaos and an overall unpleasant experience.

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Using a friend visiting from overseas as the perfect excuse to spend the weekend in Melbourne, I booked the cheapest possible flight for the roughly 90-minute journey departing after work on a Friday and returning as late as possible on Sunday.

While my Friday night flight went without a hitch, the same can’t be said for my return trip. Not made too clear to the passengers what was going on, it seemed that the flight was overbooked and the airline was looking for volunteers to stay a night at an airport hotel and take the first flight out in the morning instead… all for a measly $80 compensation.

Unsurprisingly, few wanted to stay and chaos ensued as it was then mentioned that the plane needed to be lighter to cut flying time as it was getting late and Sydney Airport closes early. The airline began to choose at random who would stay behind. Arguments caused delays meaning we had minimal boarding time to make sure we departed before it was too late to take off in time to make it back to Sydney before the airport curfew.

In the end, we did take off, just a few minutes before 10pm, almost an hour after our scheduled departure time. We landed in Sydney just minutes before the 11pm curfew.

Tigerair details

  • Route: Sydney to Melbourne (Tullamarine), return
  • Duration: 1h 35m outbound, 1h 25m inbound
  • Flight number(s): TT271 and TT282
  • Aircraft type: Airbus A320
  • Dates travelled: 7 December 2019; 9 December 2019
  • Class: Economy
  • Frequent flyer program: None

Alex’s review: ★★☆☆☆

  • Price during peak flying times
  • Convenient departure times
  • Lack of information during delay
  • Poor compensation offered
  • Communication by staff

What did I like?

  • Price: I booked the fare last-minute and chose peak-time departures (Friday evening after work and late Sunday evening) and Tigerair’s fare was the cheapest at about $250 return. By no means a good deal for this route, it was the cheapest fare available compared to the competition by quite a bit.
  • Departure times: As a 9-5er working in Sydney CBD and near a train station, having a 6:40pm departure worked out swimmingly, leaving the perfect amount of time to get from the city to the airport.

What didn’t I like?

  • Lack of information: On the return flight, the airline didn’t clearly inform us about the delays, which caused many passengers to become irate. The flight was departing from a far gate that wasn’t near any facilities and it wasn’t clear whether we even had time to use the toilets during this delay.
  • Compensation for delay: Compared to what I’ve heard other airlines offer as compensation when a flight is overbooked or a passenger needs to voluntarily wait for a later flight, I don’t think $80 is a fair offering. With the compensation on offer so low, I wasn’t surprised there weren’t enough people taking the bait, which, unfortunately, caused even further delays.
  • Airline staff: During the delay, the airline staff were talking to the passengers as if the delay was their fault. When we were (eventually) boarding, we were told quite sternly to board as fast as possible so we could get to Sydney before curfew. I felt more like a child in trouble at school than someone paying to be on a flight.

Would I use Tigerair again?

Although this really wasn’t a great experience, I would use Tigerair again. I’ve flown with the budget carrier many times before and have had an experience I’d expect with a budget carrier – no frills for a low price. I’m hoping this was just a one-off experience and that my next flight with the airline will be a much more positive journey.

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