Tiger charges for check in

Tiger Airways has just announced that passengers who wish to check in at the airport will be hit with a $15 fee.  Apparently, you can check in online for free.  Tiger argues that there is a cost for them to many the check in counters, so the user must pay.

This is akin to your local butcher selling you meat at the agreed price then charging an extra $5 for the privilege of serving you.  This type of service, you would have thought, should be absorbed by in the price of the product, as it is a normal part of business.  What else has Tiger got planned?  Taking around the hat at 30,000 feet so that the pilot can be paid extra to land the plane?

I would have thought that there are very good reasons for greeting passengers at check in.  Firstly, they should be there for security purposes – such as to prevent Mr Bin Laden from boarding the plane with an armed rocket launcher.  Then for social reasons, to ascertain whether the rugby team that has come straight to the airport from the pub after a huge win are actually sober enough to be allowed to fly.  But the most important reason for having a check in is that it gives the airline a public face, and many passengers who are not regular fliers may need to ask some basic questions about their flight. Not everyone is confident with flying, and having a friendly face at the check in counter sometimes allays any concerns people may have about their flight.

I’ve compared prices between Tiger and Qantas for a Perth-Melbourne flight on Tuesday 10 August.  The date was arbitrary; I just wanted a mid-week flight as they tend to be cheaper.  I chose Qantas because it is a full service airline with seats that are more spacious than those on Tiger.  For the exercise, Tiger were going to charge me $118 for the fare, $6 for the privilege of paying for it with a Visa Credit Card (they have a better deal with MasterCard, but I don’t want an airline dictating to me which credit card I’ll use) and if I want luggage, I need to pay for that.  Qantas would allow me 20 kilograms of luggage, Tiger had two options, for 15kg or 25kg, I opted for the 25kg only because Qantas allowed 20kg, and Tiger couldn’t match it.  Anyway, Tiger wanted to charge me $45 for the luggage, bringing the price to $169, if I checked in at the airport that would mean I’d be spending $184 with Tiger for my flight to Melbourne.  The bad news is that the only flight of the day left at 1.20am and got into Melbourne at 6.45am, which is really inconvenient when you consider that if you were going to Melbourne for business, then you’d either sleep through the meetings or be that mentally whacked that you’d be ripped off, and if you were going for leisure, you’d be too tired to do anything, so you waste a day of your precious holiday.

The cheapest Qantas fare was $245 – a difference of $61.  Now Qantas is a full service airline, so I would have got a meal, been offered drinks, including alcohol for no extra charge, I would have in-flight entertainment but, most importantly, I had a choice of flights, so that I could fly to suit me, and not the airline.  Also, I get Frequent Flyer points when I travel Qantas, which I can use for any number of things.  In my humble opinion (who am I kidding? There’s nothing humble about me!), that extra $61 is worth paying, simply because it offers me more value and more choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve flown Tiger a number of times and, for a budget airline, they are quite good.  The problem that I have with budget airlines is that they increase their fares by stealth, simply by whacking extra fees on everything.  Personally, I’d like a bit more honesty from these budget airlines.  If they are finding it tough to make profits at the prices they charge, then put the airfares up rather than the fees.  For instance, if they added the $15 check in fee to the fare and made it $133 for a flight to Melbourne, I can see the value in that.  I can’t see any value in being made to wait at the end of a long queue and then being forced to pay an extra $15 when I finally make it to the counter.

Cheap fares are great, but good service is better.  Perhaps Tiger Airways should consider putting a McDonald’s franchise on each of their planes – then they’d learn about how to mix good service with value-for-money to get lots of repeat business without offending your customers.

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5 comments to Tiger charges for check in

  • Fiona

    Yes Grumpy, I am outraged that Tiger think it is ok to do this. I can’t help thinking of my in-laws who have no internet access and are managing on a pension. Are they supposed to stay home and never go anywhere? I myself will be looking for the best fare that is all inclusive.

  • The best way to get back at Tiger is to book travel with other airlines – if these fees mean that they’ll lose business then the fees will disappear. The banks are about to be done for charging early exit fees for mortgages, perhaps we should look at unfair fees for airlines too.

  • Excellent content. Thanks for posting.

  • Thanks for the information, will add you to my Feeds!

  • hindo

    Have to disagree with you. The charges are clearly labelled when you make your booking, as is required under Australia law. If I check-in online and just drop my bags (if I have any) at the airport, then I am paying for a service I am not using, ie airport check-in. Why should I have to subsidize someone who checks in at the airport? Internet access is available in public libraries for free so there is really no reason people cannot check-in online – and hey they would most likely have booked their fare on the internet anyway. I see no problem with user pays systems used by the likes of Tiger.

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