Jetstar vs Tiger Air – Who Should You Fly With 2018?

In Australia, there are two budget airlines that run the very popular route from Melbourne to Sydney (and back), Tiger Air and Jetstar. Both Tiger Air and Jetstar are owned by larger airlines, Virgin and Qantas respectively. This author has done this flight many times between the two destinations and feels that they can give an abject opinion on which is best. Naturally individual flights may vary, but for the short distance between the two cities (54 minutes flight time), an average result can be expected. So, when you compare Jetstar vs Tiger Air -who comes out on top?

Tiger Air currently has 18 planes in service (14 of which are Airbus A320, and the remainder are Boeing 737’s. The current plan is to retire all the Airbus’s for more Boeing’s). Jetstar, however, has a much bigger fleet of 52 Airbus A320 planes and 11 Boeing 787 Dreamliners for there international routes.

Jetstar Vs Tiger Air

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over the various different factors when it comes to choosing which airline to fly between Sydney and Melbourne (note: Jetstar does fly a variety of international routes, and has many subsidiaries in south-east Asia such as Jetstar Pacific. This review will only focus on the domestic Jetstar and Tiger Air offerings).

All prices will be in AUD (Australian dollar).

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Boarding process

At Sydney airport, both airlines board from jet bridges from domestic terminal two, which has all the facilities you would expect at an airport. As the two are right next to each other, their boarding process is the same.

However, in Melbourne, the two airlines, whilst both located at terminal five, have different gate areas. Jetstar’s gate area is 20 minutes walk from the main terminal, whilst when boarding Tiger Air, passengers are corralled into a separate boarding area (much like cattle) that has no seats and no facilities.

Jetstar also flies into Avalon airport, which is 45 minutes away from Melbourne downtown. This is nearly always the cheapest option to fly however you would need to factor in the travel time to the CBD. For the budget conscious traveller, you can take the bus, Skybus, to Melbourne.

Winner: Jetstar


Overall Tiger Air offers a cheaper price to fly than Jetstar. Choosing a random return flight in October (Tuesday and Thursday respectively, which is the cheapest days to fly) at a reasonable time between 10 am and 8 pm, Tiger Air is on average $120 for a return trip, whilst Jetstar is $132.

Both the airlines allow you to choose your seat, Jetstar it will cost roughly $28 and Tiger Air it costs between $4-$25, depending on the location of the seat and legroom.

In terms of baggage, both have a 7 kg limit of cabin baggage, but in this authors experience, only Tiger Airways has enforced this in the past.

For checked baggage, it depends on when you purchased this added extra. If you purchase when you were booking the tickets, Jetstar the cost starts at $13.50, whilst the Tiger Air it is $13 to $41 for 15kg and up respectively.

Checking baggage at the gate, Jetstar charges $60, whilst Tiger Air charges an eye-watering $75.00 AUD.

Winner: Tiger Air (if you book early!)

On-time performance

Brilliantly in Australia, the government releases report once a month on the on-time performance of aircraft in their airspace.

Below is a direct quote from the June 2018 report:

Virgin Australia achieved the highest on-time arrivals among the major domestic airlines at 87.9 per cent followed by Qantas at 83.8 per cent, Jetstar at 80.3 per cent and Tiger Air Australia at 73.1 per cent*.

What we can defer from this is that Jetstar is far more reliable.

Winner: Jetstar

Tiger Air interior

Where do they fly to

Jetstar flight to 21 destinations across Australia was Tiger Air only flies to 13.

Jetstar flies to:
• Adelaide
• Ballina Byron
• Brisbane
• Cairns
• Canberra
• Darwin
• Gold Coast
• Hamilton Island
• Hayman Island
• Hobart
• Launceston
• Mackay
• Melbourne (all airports)
• Newcastle – Port Stephens
• Perth
• Sunshine Coast
• Sydney
• Townsville
• Uluru (Ayers Rock)
• Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine)

Tiger Air flies to:
• Adelaide
• Cairns
• Canberra
• Coffs Harbour
• Gold Coast
• Melbourne
• Sydney
• Whitsunday Coast
• Brisbane
• Canberra
• Darwin
• Hobart
• Perth
• Townsville

Winner: Jetstar


Both airlines operate with the same service model as the parent companies, and since the purchase of Tiger Air by Virgin they have seen their reviews go through the roof. As such they are pretty much the same in terms of customer service.

Jetstar offers three different seat types, Business, extra leg room, and standard. Business class seats have a Seat pitch of 38”, whilst economy seats are 29”.

Tiger Air offers only extra legroom and standard seats. The extra legroom seats have a seat pitch of 38” whilst the standard economy has 29”.

Winner: Jetstar (range of options).

David Hall, CEO of Jetstar, has it go serving customers on a flight.

In-flight entertainment

Not including watching redneck (bogan) the first time flyers argue with the flight attendant staff, both airlines offer in-flight entertainment at an additional cost.

Jetstar flights either include a rentable iPad or on Dreamliner planes back-of-seat entertainment screens. To rent one of these units for the duration of the flight cost $9, but it’s free for business class travellers.

Tiger Air offers an in-flight wireless entertainment option that is played on the user’s device such as a smartphone. Uses must download the app, and then use in-app Purchases for movies and television shows. Movies cost six dollars and television shows cost $2.

Winner: Tiger Air on price, as for the Melbourne to Sydney route you would rarely even finish a normal film.

Onboard menu

Both airlines offer an onboard menu. Below is a basic comparison between two items on both menus.

Jetstar Menu
Tiger Air Menu

Coffee – Jetstar $4.00 / Tiger Air $4.50
Soft drink – Jetstar / Tiger Air both four dollars.
Bacon and egg roll – Jetstar / Tiger Air both nine dollars.

Jetstar seems to have the bigger, healthier range than Tiger Air, whilst the latter is more expensive as well.

Winner: Jetstar

Which should you fly?

By tallying up the scores we can see that Jetstar comes ahead apart from when price is involved. For the truly budget conscious traveller who can book ahead, Tiger Air can be the better option.

Surprisingly there is a third answer to this simple question of which is better, Jetstar actually offers a price be guaranteed on all Tiger Air flights that leave within an hour of one of their flights.

What this means is, if Tiger Air flight leaves at 5 PM, in Jetstar flight leaves at 5:30 PM, Jetstar will beat the Tiger Air price (if it’s cheaper) by 10%. Even if the Jetstar flight is $100 more originally. This does not include International flights or baggage. This is truly the smart way to fly, and if you are flying on one of these budget airlines, then it’s a great way to save even more.


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