I found myself needing to head to Melbourne for a spring wedding and thought that as this was a social trip I’d risk choosing the cheapest possible option.
Being the most popular route in the world by passenger numbers, Sydney to Melbourne, I was spoilt for choice. Qantas, the national flag carrier for Australia, and Virgin Australia, its rival were both rather expensive (You can see which airline is best here) for the short 50-minute flight. After all, they cater to Business travelers or foreign domestic transfers. For local travel (and for such a short flight) I always recommend saving money and flying Jetstar.
However, this time I would be flying Tiger Air, as it’s been a few years and thought it’s time to see if they have improved.
Tiger Air is owned outright by Virgin Australia and operates as a competitor to Qantas’ Jetstar in the Australian domestic market (Specifically flying between the five major cities). The Tigerair Australia fleet currently consists of 11 A320 aircraft and 4 B737 aircraft. truly do embrace the low-cost carrier business model, by charging for luggage, seat selection, priority boarding and more.
I will be flying a Thursday mid-day flight, avoiding the general weekend crowd, and the morning/evening business rush.
Boarding at Sydney Airport
Upon arriving at the gate in the lovely half build Sydney terminal, we were told that our plane was, in fact, arriving at a different gate further away, as the current gate was still occupied by an earlier and delayed Tiger Air flight.
I arrived at the gate 7 minutes past the boarding time… but I needed not worry. After all, we had the passengers, fuel, ramp agents but missing the plane.
It reminded me of that skit from the classic Come Fly With Me:
Approx. 20 minutes after waiting at the new gate, our Airbus A320 arrived, with gate agents running through the terminal from the other Tiger Air gates to set up the pull-up banners and signs. I personally can’t blame them as it seems that they too had to see off a flight and prepare for another arrival within minutes.
We started the boarding process by accepting priority passengers and those that had bought the ‘priority pass’ for $3 during booking. I personally have never understood why people want to board so fast before everyone else (Even if all the overhead bins are taken which is rare in Australia, the cabin crew will just put your bag underneath anyway) and then have to sit there in the stuffy plane. It seems half the plane took up this offering.
We completed boarding 10 minutes after we were supposed to take off.
Once on the plane, I was actually pleasantly surprised how few people were flying. I had the entire row to myself (including opposite the aisle) and could stretch right out. I also did not have anyone several seats around.
The seats are rather small. I measured with my phone roughly 60cm of pitch, which is about 21 inches. On their website, they say that they have 31 to 29 inches pitch, but for someone who is 6 foot, my knees touched the back of the seat. I would not have been able to place anything in the back-seat pocket.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to fly on a full flight, you really would be quite cozy with your flight mates. Actually… I can, and that’s why I don’t normally fly Tiger Airways.
They have a range of offerings on board, here are the latest snack as of October 2018.
Typical Australian airline snacks, the noodles look like they taste as good as the paper they are printed off.
And some rather tacky looking gifts. Although the stuffed tiger looks quite cute! I did not purchase anything on this flight as it’s so short.
In terms of entertainment, there are no seat backs or electronic offerings. They say on their Wikipedia page that they have BYOD (Bring your own device) entertainment that runs off the wifi, but my device did not detect any WIFI network whilst in flight. That being said, it’s such a short flight that you really could just watch the view the whole way.
And what a view it was!
We landed roughly 10 minutes later than expected due to congestion at Melbourne Airport.
Surprisingly, it was more pleasant than I expected. This was due to the fact that the flight was practically empty, but I am reminded that for such a short flight, is discomfort really that much of a big deal?
I had actually booked a return ticket, so I’ll be fully embracing the Tiger Air experience on my return in a few days.