Tigerair began life as Tiger Airways aiming to become Singapore’s version of Europe’s nastiest airline Ryanair. Tigerair launched its first Singapore service in 2004 and expanded to Australia in 2007. In both markets it became the ultimate airfares discounter. The company listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange in 2010 with its largest shareholder being Singapore Airlines. Tigerair copies Ryanair’s formula of operating a single aircraft type, using the cheapest possible airport services and providing absolutely no free services at all. Like Ryanair, Tigerair uses its poor reputation and regular complaints as a publicity stunt to draw attention to its dirt cheap fares. They do not conceal the fact they pay their staff peanuts, offer appalling service and cancel flights with unsatisfactory warning or compensation. Tigerair began as a challenge to Malaysia’s discounter AirAsia and rapidly spread throughout Southeast Asia establishing subsidaries in Indonesia, Phillipines as well as Australia. Their plans to expand into Korea and Thailand were shelved in the face of dismal financial results. In Australia Tigerair began serving domestic passengers from Melbourne and rapidly expanded until the 2 July 2011 when Australian aviation authorities grounded Tiger Airways following repeated safety breaches. The airline risked losing its operators licence. In 2013 the airline attempted to distance itself from its own poor repuation by changing its name from Tiger Airways to Tigerair. In October 2012 Virgin Australia acquired 60% of Tiger's shares so they could create a two airline service copying that of Qantas/Jetstar. In 2015 they paid $1 for the remaining 40% to take full ownership. Virgin Australia will continue moving upmarket, leaving the dregs for Tigerair. In 2016 Singapore Airlines pulled the plug on Tigerair and announced it would merge with their other discount carrier, Scoot in 2017. No one is likely to cry over Tigerair's demise in Asia and neither would the Australian travelling public if Virgin Australia did the same.
Tigerair's low paid crew offer a similar level of service as McDonalds. The airline lacks any prestige, pay is poor and crew know they are being totally exploited and they really don’t care. However they are young and thin and haven’t been in the industry very long, so haven’t had time to become totally jaded yet. The main function of crew is to sell passengers onboard junk snacks, alcohol and soft drinks. Don’t expect anything more than that. The same level of low service will be found on Australian domestic routes as Singapore international services. Both hubs seem to use the same ‘Lack of Service Manual’.
Tigerair has a reasonable network to and from Singapore to regional cities within five hours flying time of their home base. They essentially serve airports with cheaper landing fees and use cheap terminals if any are available. As well as Perth – Singapore, they have an extensive but unreliable network within Australia centred on Melbourne. The airlines reputation for cancelling flights at short notice without providing alternative means of travel can make a Tigerair booking a risk too great to take for important trips, especially when they fly only once a day to that destination.
The Tigerair experience is so terrible that many passengers vow never to fly them again, yet are lured back onto the carrier with their unbelievably low airfares. Many ticket prices are just too cheap to resist. However they can be illusionary as the airline charges for absolutely everything they possibly can – an online booking fee, they call a ‘Convenience Fee’, baggage fees, meals etc. If you need to change a date it’s often cheaper to discard your old ticket and buy a new one. However, if you travel with no bags and get a bargain fare it is genuinely a great deal. The airline's website is designed to catch people out and sell them services they don't want such as Travel Insurance.
Tigerair provides no free catering at all, however ice is free. It seems odd for an airline that is trying to make money from on-board sales to have such an uninviting selection of junk food snakes imaginable. The Tigerair menu lists the worst possible types of TV style dinners for longer international flights and extremely fattening junk food snacks for Australian domestic passengers and shorter flights. Their coffee smells and tastes like burnt dirt.
Naturally the airline provides no free entertainment at all, except for their in-flight magazine. If you want to be reminded you are on an ultra cheap airline their magazine will do it with advertisements aimed at backpackers and the unemployed.
Check-in staff are extremely rude and the airlines 19 year old managers are even ruder. The passenger will lose every argument with staff over excess carry-on baggage and arriving late for flights will lighten your wallet further. Singapore’s discount airline terminal will make seasoned travellers cry with its warehouse-like facilities and wherever similarly low quality services are available in Australia Tigerair use them. Baggage is handled reasonably reliably and is not transferred to other carriers.
Tigerair is a single class airline. Their target market seems to be the long term unemployed, backpackers and unsuspecting bargain hunters who don’t know what they’re in for. There are no lounges and at many facilities you cannot even buy a newspaper. At Singapore's terminal there is inadequate seating and backpackers can be seen sitting (and sleeping) on the floor.
Tigerair has cut costs by cutting out all the extras and charging for everything. Planes can be untidy with crumbs on your seat and the last passenger’s food wrappers in the magazine compartment. Apparently head rest protectors are an extra, as Tigerair has axed them. However aircraft are new and if you just want to go from A to B on a small budget without bags it can be fine. Not all flights use discount terminals so the experience is OK.
Nonexistent. Frequent flyer programmes cost money to operate which ultimately make ticket prices more expensive, so they don’t and won’t have a loyalty programme
Keeping prices down is the name of the game for Tigerair. That means paying pilots the lowest possible wages and making them pay for their own training and security clearances. Pilots even have to pay for their own lunch or bring it from home! Tigerair pays baggage handlers, check-in staff and reservations people the lowest possible. Not only does Tigerair treat its staff with contempt but they actually damage their career prospects for other airlines. Many other airlines believe working for Tigerair has taught them bad customer skills and makes them untouchable. It is unlikely any Emirates recruiters would consider former Tigerair employees for positions. Tigerair's senior management are cynical hypocrites, skilled liars and ruthless bullies. Tigerair is a blemish to the name of Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia should be embarrassed to be operating this subsidary. Clearly Tigerair's business model is not as perfect as they thought as the airline continues to loses vast sums of money on most of their operations.
Tigerair does have new aircraft which are maintained by the cheapest available contractors. Their pilots are typically the worst paid in the industry and don’t give a damn about the company. The airline cuts any corner it needs to, to save a dollar. Their disregard for safety backfired in March 2011 when Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority issued the airline a ‘Show Cause’ notice demanding the airline prove why it still deserved its license to fly, given its breaches and in June 2011 a flight was investigated for flying to low. When the airline again flew too low a few days later Australia's aviation regulators grounded the airline for a week from 2 July stating 'Tiger has not been able to, at this stage, to convince us that they can continue operations safely'. However to date, Tigerair has not experienced an accident.
Tigerair is cheap, nasty, unreliable and unsafe. The one thing in their favour is price.
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