Flights occasionally get delayed and cancelled all the time. But for one reader, Tigerair’s troubles – and the way they handled them – proved too much. But what do the actual statistics say? Vicky Moss weighs in.
After my most recent experience with Tigerair I decided that I would never fly them again! However, once I calmed down, I decided to analyse some data to see if I am just making an emotional decision, rather than one based on facts.
Over the last 4 years I have flown Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar & Tigerair depending on several factors such as the purpose of the trip, price, date/time, frequent flyer points available etc. No surprises, I find Qantas and Virgin more comfortable and they both have more flight options than the cheaper airlines, but I guess that is what you are paying for. However, I fly Tigerair most often because I am flying for personal reasons and they are usually the cheapest. My flights with Tigerair over the last 12 months are detailed below:
|Booking Ref.||Departure Date||Departure Time||Flight No.||Departing From||Arriving||Rescheduled||Delayed||Cancelled|
As you can see 31% of my flights were rescheduled well prior to the time of departure. Typically this hasn’t been too much of an issue – a couple of hours here and there at most. The only time I was a little bothered by the change was in July when I originally booked the 6:40pm flight from Sydney to Gold Coast rather than Brisbane (my actual destination) because I was unsure I could make it from work to the airport on time after work for the 6:05pm flight to Brisbane. Tigerair rescheduled the flight to the Gold Coast to 4:10PM (during work hours), so I changed to the 6:05pm flight TT382 from Sydney to Brisbane in the end. What I was most unhappy about was that Tigerair made me pay $9.12 to transfer to the other flight, when the change was due entirely to their rescheduled flight.
But for $9.12 it wasn’t worth arguing against their standard policies that I knew the poor customer service staff member was enforcing. My suggestion to Tigerair after this incident is that for $9.12, the customer satisfaction would have been worth significantly more than $9.12 to your brand!
My flights have been delayed by more than 30mins at least 14% of the time I’ve flown. My biggest issue with the flight delays isn’t the actual delay, it’s sitting at the boarding gate with the words “Boarding Soon” displayed on the gate for over an hour with no announcement of the delay. A little communication does wonders to placate most passengers.
The cancellations were the reason I came to the emotional conclusion that I wouldn’t ever fly Tigerair again. My Tigerair flights have been cancelled 15% of the time over the last 12 months. To be honest it’s not even the fact that the flights were cancelled that bothered me so much, it was the way Tigerair handled them.
Notification from Tigerair of my flight cancellation in September came through via SMS at 6:45am on Sunday morning on the day of the 11:15am flight back to Sydney. I was on the phone to Tigerair by 7AM and was told the next available flight from Brisbane to Sydney was on Tuesday – not great when you have kids and a job! I asked if I could change to a flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney and got a flight at 12:55PM. A better customer service experience would have been a flight from another airline from Brisbane or at the very least, the customer service staff member suggesting flying from the Gold Coast instead of me having to ask (there is after all an Airtrain service travelling between the 2 airports very regularly that doesn’t take too long – Tigerair could even offer to pay for this!). I strongly suggest Tigerair could include this simple addition to their customer service training.
My second cancellation was the deal breaker for me, it was the first flight my kids (who are 15 & 16) had ever flown alone, as I was already in Brisbane. This flight was cancelled at the time of boarding, after bags had already been checked in and the supervising adult had left them at the airport. It has now been pointed out to me by Tigerair’s customer service that children should be accompanied until boarding is complete, rather than just check-in. I now know this for future reference.
Again, I was unimpressed with Tigerair’s lack of communication as my children sat at the departure gate until the sign with their flight number and “Boarding Soon” changed to a new flight number prior to any announcement of their flight cancellation and for all passengers to collect their bags. The kids called me straight away and when I called Tigerair – they could not yet confirm the flight had been cancelled.
As there were no more Tigerair flights from Sydney to either Brisbane or the Gold Coast that night the Tigerair phone customer service staff member offered a refund or flights the following day at 4pm. The other alternative, though they couldn’t do it over the phone, was if the kids went in person to the Tigerair check-in counter they could be transferred to a Virgin flight at no cost, there were three more scheduled that evening.
Due to the flight cancellation there was a huge unruly crowd at the check-in counter. I didn’t want my kids in this environment so booked the Virgin flights online and paid for them myself instead. When the kids checked into Virgin, Virgin’s staff couldn’t understand why I had paid for the tickets as all the other Tigerair passengers were being transferred across at no charge.
Numerous passengers on the flight also made the same comment to the kids. I have made a complaint to Tigerair detailing these events and have been told that they are not liable for any financial loss incurred because of the cancellation. While their response is completely within the Conditions of Carriage stated on their website, I do not understand why some passengers who attained their tickets through a different means are free and mine are not.
All of this got me thinking that surely the number of delays, rescheduled and cancelled flights I have experienced can’t be acceptable. Surely Tigerair wouldn’t still be in business if this was normal, so I looked up some statistics on airline ‘on time’ performance (flight arrivals, departures, and cancellation) that are freely available and published by the Australian Government. These are shown below:
|Sectors||Arrivals On Time||Departures On Time||Cancellations|
|Virgin Australia Regional Airlines||8,155||8,033||6,843||85.2%||6,994||87.1%||122||1.5%|
|Qantas – all QF designated services||232,687||228,143||194,393||85.2%||196,777||86.3%||4,544||2.0%|
|Virgin Australia – all VA designated services||152,098||148,880||126,750||85.1%||129,226||86.8%||3,218||2.1%|
From these statistics it appears that my experiences are extraordinary, and the norm is for considerably less disruption to services for all carriers including Tigerair.
In hindsight, for me the main difference between the budget airlines Tigerair/Jetstar and the premium Virgin/Qantas carriers is more the level of service and the available options to change disrupted flights. This could explain why review websites such as www.productreview.com.au and www.airlineratings.com rate Tigerair and Jetstar much lower than Virgin and Qantas. Typically, people with poor experiences are more likely to write a review than those with good experiences, so none of the airlines rate very well on these websites, but Tigerair & Jetstar’s are far worse. In reading many of the comments it’s a similar story … complaints about how cancellations, rescheduling and delays are handled.
Unless Tigerair can change the way in which they deal with service disruptions they have lost my business for good! For me, Tigerair is not worth the lower ticket price.
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