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Pros & Cons of travelling with Tigerair – Travelling with Kids – Family Travel Blog

Every one you speak to in Australia has an opinion on tigerair, some are good some are not so good and I wonder what people are basing these opinions on. Here’s my Tigerair review by someone who has flown with them a number of times.

A lot of people say they’ve never flown with them and never will!  Why I ask, a friend of a friend flew with them years ago and their flight got cancelled and they got stranded and couldn’t get home.  Really I ask, has that not happened on any other flights in Australia?  In 2004 Craig and I and a 1 year old Alannah flew to Sydney and due to extreme weather our flight got cancelled.  They did organise another flight but it was 8 hours later and it was Alannah’s first birthday!  That’s a day we won’t get back but hey that’s the luck of the draw and we still fly with Qantas.

Now I do believe that a certain TV series titled Airline may not have helped their cause but my theory is that if you do all the correct things and allow yourself enough time there shouldn’t be any problems, right!  That’s provided you don’t live with Craig who has major issues with waiting and would prefer to time things down to the last minute, here lies our problem.  How do I get around it, I tell little porkies!  Yes you read it right, I lie. I tell him all our flights are 30mins to 1 hour earlier than they are, this allows us plenty of time and ensures I’m not stressed before we even get to the airport.

My Tigerair review

Below I have listed the pros and cons of flying with Tigerair.


They’re very cheap!

That’s the best thing I think. We recently bought 5 return tickets from Melbourne to Mackay in far North Queensland for $768.  The flights themselves were only $590 the extra costs are attributed towards booking fees, seat allocation and early boarding.  We managed to get 2 for 1 flights which meant that 2 of us flew for free.  The flights were also discounted at $99 each way which is a bargain.  I also searched the other airlines operating on the Australian domestic routes and found that for flights at the same time and dates were between $1600 and $1800 for the five of us, that’s a saving of $800-$900.

They’re on time.

I have previously flown with TigerAir a couple of times between Melbourne and Sydney, I have always found them to be on time. Their turn around times is quick, it seems that people have only just disembarked and then the flight is boarding again.  This could be due to the fact that they adhere very strictly to their times frames for check in and boarding.

They have an easy to use app for smartphones.

I have used their app and their website for booking flights, both are easy to use and navigate.  I also love that the app has a ‘deals’ icon at the bottom of the screen.  I regularly check this for the latest deals which are sorted by each capital city.  This enables me to scroll down to Melbourne and view all the deals departing from here, it even clearly labels the date range that the deal applies too. Easy as!!

Queue jump for a small fee per person.

Tiger Air offers the option of paying an extra $3 per person to jump the queue and board early. We have decided to take advantage of this option for our upcoming trip to Mackay.  The reason we opted for this is because we are only taking carry-on luggage and as we will be travelling with the kids it allows us to get on early and get ourselves sorted.  Traveling with the 3 kids can be tedious but giving us that extra time to get organised will be $15 well spent. The budget airlines do not allow for elderly and people with kids to board early, like some other airlines.


Service and Credit Card Fees

I get really disappointed when you see cheap flights and think you have a bargain but once you add in all the fees and charges the savings end up being minimal.  For example our recent booking for Mackay looked amazing and whilst I am still really happy with what we paid they were not as great as I expected due to fees. We had a service fee which cost an extra $175 and a credit card fee of $88, outrageous thanks!  Luckily on this occasion I had the correct credit card that did not attract this charge but truth be known that was not the credit card I actually wanted to use.  I have a travel Visa card that I prefer to use for travel and helps me manage all our travel costs, that’s no big issue but would prefer to be able to use the credit card of my choice without having to pay quite ridiculous charges for no apparent reason.

Same with the service fee. I would prefer it to be incorporated into the sale price so that you know what you are up for from the start.  It’s almost false advertising as there are all these other fees which means it’s actually going to cost you more than the advertised cost to get from point A to point B.  I think it would be a much better reflection of what you expect to be paying going into the booking. I couple of times I have seen sale fares and logged on only to get to the end and decide that with all the fees I’m not really prepared to pay the final amount.  It’s disappointing when you think you have an awesome deal.

Seat Allocation Fees

Now, this one really annoys me and whilst not a huge cost it’s really unnecessary.  Due to the fact that we have 5 members in our family and the kids are still very young we are actually forced into booking our seats in advance.  I have been told from others that if you don’t pre-book your seats the airlines will not accommodate families and will seat them separately if no other seats are available.  Really……..! Ok sure sometimes I would love to slot my 5 year old with someone else for the duration of the flight but is that really a suitable option.  Last time I booked flight and flew to Sydney with TigerAir I paid and reserved our seats (only myself and our 7 year old) and when I checked in the staff had moved us to the rear of the plane presumably because I was travelling with a child. I mentioned to the ground staff at check in that I had pre-booked seats in row 7, she promptly moved us back to the original seats. This is not just a problem encountered with TigerAir, it seems to be something wide spread across all budget airlines.


This is one that I have added as I could see it would be a problem for some people (probably me when traveling with Craig, not so when traveling without him!). Tiger Airways is very clear about their policy for check in timeframes.  OK, so you’re aware, so really whose problem is it?  I say it’s the traveller’s problem but seeing I have major time management issues and like to be extremely early it generally isn’t an issue for me.  Having said that, when I was returning from Sydney last time, we left for the airport with plenty of time and we hit very heavy traffic on the M5 which was not expected on a Sunday.  I was panicking but we made it with 30 mins to spare. I had a mild sweat up though!

Their timeframes are set out below:

•Check in opens 2 hours prior to the flight departure time,

•Check in close strictly 45 mins before scheduled departure time, and

•Passengers are allowed 2 pieces of carry-on luggage weighing no more than 10kgs combined.

Now, I don’t think these guidelines are hard to follow, basically all it means is get there early. TigerAir does reject passengers that do not adhere to the rules but this also ensures that the rest of us get to our destination on time, so at this stage as long as it’s not me getting rejected I’m pretty happy with the rules.

Changes to your booking

Forget it, pay for a new flight! That’s my advice. Changes to flights are expensive. All flights are non-refundable but for an administration fee you are able to change your flight up to 4 hours prior to the flights departure. I am unable to find any details on what the administration fee is but I am fairly certain it’s going to be steep and completely unreasonable. Best to make sure that you are not going to need to change. Its the same policy as all other budget airlines, they all charge unreasonable prices to change flights.

Our Verdict

Play fair in the sand pit and you shouldn’t have any problems. They’re a budget airline so don’t expect all the bells and whistles, make sure you are there with plenty of time, as check in closes earlier than other airlines operating in Australia. If you don’t abide by the rules above, expect to lose your money and have to book another flight. Hope my Tigerair review has been helpful, they are no different to any budget airline around the world and I have flown with a number of them.

Tigerair review
On board selfie on our last Tiger Airways flight to Sydney
Tigerair review
On the way home from Sydney after a visit to the Taronga Park Zoo.

Jetstar has very similar rules and charges should you attempt to make any changes. Air Asia are the same, its often cheaper to book another ticket than to try and make flight changes unless you have been lucky and they have changed the flight for their own purposes. We flew with VietJet in Vietnam with no issues, you can really save a substantial amount of money travelling with budget airlines, this for me means I can them upgrade my accommodation at the destination we are going to. Short term pain for long term gain I say!

Happy travels,

Sal & Co.


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences with Tiger. I have looked at their fares a few times and we also have a family of five so they do appear to provide a good saving when compared with Qantas and Virgin.

    1. Sally

      They certainly do Anne, you just have to play by their rules! Allow plenty of time. Also I think I heard whilst in Kuala Lumpur this week that Virgin has bought Tiger out which should be interesting. Hope that doesn’t increase their prices. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Christopher Burkhardt

    I do not agree with queue jumping for moral reasons. I understand its cheap though personally i would get to embarrassed to participate in queue jumping. waiting is a part of life and I understand that classing sadly is as well. Im personally disappointed that tiger has such services. If tiger airlines want to claim that it cares about all its passengers I think it would be beneficial for them to support the message of unity rather then classing its passengers. Not to mention I find it rather pointless as it usually takes about 10 minutes to board. I find it much easier to sit and wait until most people are on board as the plane wont get here any faster. Its amazing how many people are ready to throw away money to push in front of other people with knowing the plane isn’t going to leave any sooner. Im happy to see that queue jumping isn’t popular as like myself I have found most people don’t agree with it and find it pointless.

    1. Sally

      Hi Christopher, thanks for your comment and I appreciate what your saying. The issue for us is getting organised once on board. it takes a while to get the kids settled and if we get on first it allows that time to get sorted (e.g. getting iPads, iPods colouring books organised before we take off). Also we travel with a bit of carry on luggage and we find that if we don’t get on first there is never enough room for all the stuff we have. Anything over 2 hours and without entertainment for the kids its going to make life difficult.
      Having said that, they are getting older now and we don’t have to take as much so if we don’t feel we need to, we probably wouldn’t pay the extra. People are often intolerable of those travelling with children so the extra time allows me to get myself sorted and therefore makes live easier for anyone.
      I still appreciate your comment though and when the kids are at a more manageable age we will stop paying for the queue jumping. Its a shame that the airlines don’t call elderly and children to board first like they use to.
      I suppose its very similar to my bug bear of having to purchase your seats. But that’s another blog post!

  3. Sandeep Sharma

    You are right Sally, service and credit card fees and seat allocation fees disappointed me a lot. Otherwise tiger airways is best in class airline, as they have an app for smartphones, they are always on time etc.

    1. Sally

      Hi Sandeep,

      It’s my pet peeve travelling these days however it is also happening on the full service airlines, my opinion is that if you have purchased all your tickets on the one booking, that booking should be seated together, no agreement. If you have purchased your tickets separately will then they are entitled to seat you anywhere and if you want to sit together thats your prerogative to then purchase seats.

      I flat out refuse to pay for seats and so far haven’t had an issue, however I will happily speak up and cause a seen if we were not as placing children away from their parents is a definite safety concern.


      Sal & Co.

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