See you later Tiger

I’m sitting in a queue waiting for a Tiger plane from Melbourne to Perth.  There’s a good chance you’ll not get on the plane if  you don’t arrive 45 minutes early.  They’re a budget airline you see.  Well this is all very well, but in a thin market like ours when they often have flights at convenient times that others don’t, they could make plenty of money by selling me some right to express treatment and an ability to turn up with 30 minutes to go.  My preferred airline Virgin is very good for this, while Qantas is a bit dodgy – you can miss a plane if you get to check in 29 minutes before departure.

Anyway, what really pissed me off was turning up to this barn in Melbourne with a huge queue.  Now it is now Tiger may be a budge airline, but it’s also a BIG airline – a big airline travelling to a whole lot of cities around the world.  So I’m finding it hard to believe that it is anything but bone stupidity that leads them not to invest in a system where I can print my boarding pass out at home and walk on board when the plane boards. This won’t just save me time, but it will save them wages (trust me it will).  So would those little stations where you put in your credit card and it ferrett’s out your boarding pass and prints it out for you – with nary a human, and nary any wages getting between you and your boarding pass.

Right now it seems like a lottery.  I turned up with an hour to spare and ran into a queue of about a hundred people with three people checking them in.  There was another queue moving faster so I moved into that – having looked around for signs telling me what was special about it – there were none.  It turns out it was a queue for Adelaide – but if you weren’t there for the announcement you had to find out by osmosis.  Anyway, when I got to the front I refused to go back to the other queue and soon enough Perth started becoming an urgent queue. Meanwhile both the Adelaide and Perth planes were delayed anyway.  I generally like to save money for clients – in particular the government – but I’m afraid we all have our limits.  Only when I have to will I do this again.  The waiting around is bad enough but the stupidity is more than I can bear.

I saw some figures showing that Tiger does radically worse than other carriers on customer complaints. If that’s for being a budget airline how come the other budget now budgetish airline – Virgin Blue – does a fair bit better than Qantas?  As with cars a long time ago, higher quality can lower costs.  It certainly can with customer printed boarding passes.

PS: this was my last Tiger ticket.  It was a return ticket.  The return trip is 2 hours late.

PPS: The return trip being 2 and a half hours late by the time people had been loaded, it was discovered that as many as seven passengers had had enough and were no-shows.  So that meant we waited another hour while about three not very highly motivated baggage handlers dawdled around until the seven sensible passengers’ luggage was removed from the hold.  I got home at 4.45 am. Like I said, never again if I can avoid it.

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jimparker
jimparker(@jimparker)
12 years ago

I’ve flown Tiger a couple of times and not been impressed either and for the same reasons that I was not impressed by Jetstar either. Overservice when it didn’t count and underservice when it did.

Wheres Virgin Blue, despite the excessive chirpiness of its cabin crew, functions just like a aerial bus service should. All fundamental transactions with them are streamlined, and at a good price, they get you there on time and if you want anything more you pay for it as it comes.

Also, call me an old fashioned romantic but I also like the fact when boarding Virgin at many Australian airports, you get more opportunities to walk on the tarmac inspecting your big humming and hissing plane and with the scent of avgas in yer nose.

As to the service/administration differences between the budget airlines here, perhaps it’s because Jetstar and Tiger are siblings of big old school airlines whereas Virgin right from the start adopted the Southwest Airlines model.

Mind you, for sheer spirit of flight joie de vivre nothing beats sitting in the right hand cockpit seat of a Fiji Air Beechcraft Baron as it booms the length of a grass runway to scare the goats off before touchdown. Inflight catering left a bit to be desired though.

“You want a sandwich!?”
“What!? I can’t hear you!”
“Cheese sandwhich!”
“You see a which!?”

Also Nick, you and I and Xavier should catch up for a drink soon. We have some very forthright views about Gov 2.0 and the NBN.

whyisitso
whyisitso
12 years ago

Sounds just like a government-run transport service!

jimparker
jimparker(@jimparker)
12 years ago

“Sounds just like a government-run transport service!”

Really? Where? Name a government-run transport service you’ve caught recently in a first world country? Most of them have been privatised off.

In my case, the government-run transport services I’ve caught lately would be Amtrak in the US and the metros/subways in Paris, Madrid, NYC, London and LA – all of which delivered exactly what they promised for a very decent price and in a clean, safe and punctual manner. Much better than Melbourne’s privatised system.

Any other dim-witted knee-jerk responses you’d care to share with us whyso?

whyisitso
whyisitso
12 years ago

Between all the personal abuse, maybe Nabakov should spend a little time in Sydney and travel on its horribly inefficient CityRail and SRA buses. Or perhaps a lot of time, because you lose enormous time attempting to travel on these trains and buses, not to mention ferries. Typically of government-run enterprises, customers are just regarded as a hindrance to the real purpose of these so-called enterprises – providing pay packets to unionists in a sheltered-workshop environment.

markheydon
markheydon
12 years ago

<>

When did you last catch a ferry? I have been catching Sydney ferries for 12 years now, and they have always been cheap and reliable with incredibly friendly and accommodating staff.

Same for buses.

Trains may be another matter…

melaleuca
melaleuca
12 years ago

Whyisitso, how then do we explain the abysmal performance of Melbourne’s privatised public transport system? How about this paraphrasing of your rather lame barroom banter : Typically of privately-run enterprises, customers are just regarded as a hindrance to the real purpose of these so-called enterprises providing pay packets to executives in a sheltered-workshop environment.

Given the plethora of recent corporate excesses, like Sol Trujillo slashing a billion dollars or so off Telstra’s share price then doing a runner with a king’s ransom, insipid comments about government enterprises vis-a-vis private corporations no longer wash with anyone brighter than a hamster. And I say that as someone who has a mostly positive view of neoliberalism.

vanaalst.robert
vanaalst.robert(@vanaalst-robert)
12 years ago

“how then do we explain the abysmal performance of Melbournes privatised public transport system”
.
Actually, I don’t find Melbourne’s system too bad (although it’s nothing compared to the great systems of the world, such as Paris). Alternatively, it was better before it was privatized, but that is confounded with other factors, like usage. I think the problem now is that privatization is used as a cheap way for the government to find someone else to blame, so we have all this finger pointing and obfuscation about things like who is responsible for long-term infrastructure maintenance and so on and the general public is often left in the dark over who really is to blame.

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

whyisitso: I would agree on your comment about the Sydney transport system, except that it’s not really fair to blame it on the staff. Driving (i.e. private transport) is also terrible because the traffic is so bad during the entire daylight period. Private busses in Sydney are not significantly better than public busses in my experience.

The entire design of Sydney is worthy of a study in how things go wrong in a city, even with best intentions on all sides. For example, the major interchange for busses and trains (other than the center of the city itself) is Strathfield station. About 1.5k from Strathfield is the mighty Parramatta River, which has been a natural transport corridoor since the city was built.

If you want to change from train to ferry at Strathfield Station, how can you do it?

Testing on http://www.131500.com.au you ask to go from Strathfield Station to Kissing Point Warf and the first three suggestions are not to catch a ferry at all. The one suggestion that does involve a ferry also involves taking the train to Meadowbank Station and walking 700 meters to Meadowbank Warf… but not many trains stop at Meadowbank, might as well walk the 1500 meters from Strathfield to Canada Bay!

Why does the biggest transport interchange in the Inner West have unworkably poor ferry access?

There are thousands of examples like this. Another one is Epping Road where they put a school right next to a major arterial road, then decided they needed a “school zone” where cars are expected to change speed from 80kph down to 40kph just for two blocks. Another is Ashfield where they put shops and parking all over the major highway (reducing it to one lane each way) then created an Ashfield bypass to get around that, but filled the bypass up with speed humps and ultra-tight roundabouts to discourage anyone from using it (and those big government busses do in fact run the gauntlet of the Ashfield bypass thus requiring cushions on the ceiling).

It just shows that for some things (e.g. mass transit) central planning does work better than organic growth — presuming that someone actually bothers to do some planning, which obviously never happened in Sydney!

We could go further and question why we have the city divided into socio-economic groups by region? Why do we put all the workers in the West, the bosses in the North, bankers in the East, and tradesmen in the South? Then we put all the offices in the center, so the bosses sit in their expensive German cars listening to classical music while every road in the North Shore becomes a slow queue waiting to get across the harbour. A more sensibly organised city would not require as much transport to begin with.

Francis Xavier Holden
12 years ago

I’ve done Tiger now a few times – one of them was long haul to Darwin. No complaints – booked very cheap 4 months in advance, took sandwich pack and drink, arrived 45 mins early as requested and had no problems flying either way.

Another time we had booked to go to Mackay, Tiger is only airline flying direct Mel to Mackay. Got up at 3.30 am Sunday morn to go to airport, just on a hunch I checked, Tiger website – all ok, decided to turn on mobile at 4am. Text message arrived – Mackay airport closed due to cyclone, flight cancelled, booked on next available flight. OK I thought – I’ll wait for further news. Checked Tiger website, no info at all, not even about flight cancellation or airport closure. Ring Singapore call desk – engaged busy – see website – website no change no info.

Continuing calling phone and looking at website – no info.

Back of my head I expected text message saying “you are on flight XYZ at 8pm tonight or 8 am tomorrow” or something similar. Couldn’t get through on phone all day. Website offered no info.

At 8 pm Sunday night I decided to do my old trick when “Customer Service” or Enquiries doesn’t respond – I rang “Sales” – they’ll always answer!

I’m informed that the flight is cancelled, I can get a refund or book on next available flight, which is 10 days away, 3 days after we are due back. No automatic booking on next flight.

Check other airlines – Qantas wants around $1,400 return each and doesn’t fly direct and with changeover its a 8 hour journey.

No way out.

Lesson – only use Tiger when its a long weekend away and you can afford to abandon the $ and trip.

I just got back from Europe – where I used some cheap airlines. The notorious Ryanair is upfront, cheap, mean, hungry, no mercy. 10k cabin bag, one bag no exceptions – handbag, laptop, must go in cabin bag. 1 k over = $15euros a k – no exceptions. Check in bag $20 euros – overweight $15euros a K – no nice no exceptions. Arrive 45 mins early. Hosties clean plane while you are getting off, ask you to help put rubbish in bags.

Upside you ask – $2euro fare from Aberdeen to Dublin, no taxes, genuine $2euros, booked 3 months in advance.

Easyjet, they of the TV program, from Amsterdam to Edinburgh, only slightly less harsh than Ryanair, $100 euro but includes one checked bag.

Aer Lingus (fondly refered to as Cunning Aer Lingus by the Irish) from Cork to Amsterdam $20 euro special 2 months in advance. Not so much a true cheap airline but more a full service competing.

All were on time and as they were only 1.5 hours flights no real issues about comfort etc.

Francis Xavier Holden
12 years ago

Oh and saving time with online, electronic book-in is fine but you need a bloody printer to print out ticket. bah

whyisitso
whyisitso
12 years ago

“Private busses in Sydney are not significantly better than public busses in my experience.”

Not so, Tel_. I live at Epping and until Harris park buses gave the game away, their drivers were very customer oriented. Whenever a train from the City arrived at Epping the bus driver always used to wait until the hurrying customers arrived breathlessly from the train before departing for North Rocks and points between. Now that it’s SRA, the driver don’t give a damn. I’ve had a number of experiences of running to catch a waiting bus and he’s taken off before I could get there, even though I’m obviously runningn for the bus and only 30 metres away. To these guys, customers are a nuisance.

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

I understand your frustration but I don’t see how it should be up to the individual bus driver to decide the timetable. I mean, if you want to go in that direction you might make each bus a business of its own and each bus driver decides the route and the stops — then you have a taxi service.

If you want to catch a taxi then by all means do so. You get better service, and you pay more.

The answer to optimal transitions between multiple modes of transport is good planning — the timetable itself should be designed to give people reasonable handover between services but not so generous that everyone sits around waiting. I see the same thing at Parramatta with people legging it off train, ploughing through the crowds and pounding up the stairs to either just catch a bus or quite often just miss it. The thing is, the state government designs the timetable for both bus and train, nothing is stopping them from taking real-world measurements and getting sensible values.

I suspect that the problem is incentives… if you miss the bus and get angry about it, does that change anything for the people doing the planning? Almost certainly not. They do their job, get their wage, go home.

One option would be competition, if there were two choices of public transport, you could take the one that worked best for you. That would involve some duplication of effort, but it would fix the lack of incentive when you have only one choice on offer. This method works well with telecommunications, but making it work with trains is a bit difficult because of the complex management of multiple parallel transport systems. Small competing systems might be tempted to make it more difficult for passengers to connect up with other services.

With airlines, the competition system seems to be OK. They tend to target different sections of the market and if you don’t like one, you can switch. Generally, connection between other transport is not the big issue here.

What about other endeavours such as designing intersections for road transport? Most of the time, you never know who does this or what they were thinking. Believe it or not we still have a number of level crossings on very major roads in the biggest city in Australia. Peak hour traffic must sit and wait while the boom gates come down and a train comes through, just to remind us what life is like in some backwater country town. Only fair I guess.

How to have a system that is both planned and competitive — one of the many problems economists have not solved yet.

Francis Xavier Holden
12 years ago

I forgot to mention – re weight limits. In EU and UK luggage limits are getting hard limits and no negotiations on most flights.

My brother is in the oil game. Helicopters flying offshore to rigs weigh both human and bags for limits. No exceptions for upper total load. Also if you are too large to fit comfortably out escape window – no ride. No politeness. My brother reckons airlines will go to weighing bag and human for limits on cheap no frills flights. After all weight directly translates to fuel and costs.

Marks
Marks
12 years ago

I am not sure how accurate this site is:

http://www.flightstats.com/go/Home/home.do

However, if you search around, it gives data on on-time performance and average delays of various carriers….Tiger included.

http://www.flightstats.com/go/Airline/airlineDetails.do

My own experience with Tiger from Darwin (when they flew here from SIN) was actually pretty good and I was disappointed when they pulled out. I did a flight from ADL to MEL and back and I must say that the experience in the Mel terminal was pretty much as NG posted…the Adl terminal was pretty positive otoh. So maybe the Sin based mob are better than the Mel mob.

melaleuca
melaleuca
12 years ago

Whyisitso says:

“Ive had a number of experiences of running to catch a waiting bus and hes taken off before I could get there, even though Im obviously runningn for the bus and only 30 metres away.”

Right. So everybody on the bus should be delayed and the bus should run behind schedule because Her Majesty Whyisitso didn’t make it to the bus stop on time. That makes sense in “Me, Now” land.

vanaalst.robert
vanaalst.robert(@vanaalst-robert)
12 years ago

“I live at Epping and until Harris park buses gave the game away, their drivers were very customer oriented”
.
I used to live Marsfield for two years quite some time ago (before the new change), and for all intents and purposes, my experience is the opposite — the buses were pretty awful (so much so that it was quicker to walk to Epping station than catch the bus). However that had little to do with the actual drivers — it’s because they were too infrequent, and, as Tel_ points out, not reliable because Sydney is a disaster. Given that was a decade ago, I imagine the situation is even more of a disaster now.
.
“If you want to catch a taxi then by all means do so. You get better service, and you pay more.”
.
My experience was that getting into the city in peak hour from some places in Sydney by bus is faster than Taxi because of the bus lane which the means the buses don’t sit in grid-lock in some areas (you could probably walk faster in some situations).

whyisitso
whyisitso
12 years ago

Mel as usual can’t help himself – whenever he’s on the losing side of a discussion he resorts to personal abuse.

My point is the buses from Epping station are commuter feeders, and are supposed to co-ordinate with the train timetables. Harris Park drivers knew this but apparently SRA drivers don’t. It’s not about me, but the many commuters using bus-train combinations. This lack of customer consciousness is a major reason commuters use cars to travel to and from their destinations.

Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans(@joshua-gans)
12 years ago

I’ve been exasperated by Qantas the last three times I’ve flown with them from Sydney to Brisbane or back. Each time, I’ve arrived forty-five minutes before departure time, queued for thirty minutes without reaching the baggage check-in, and then been instructed to leave the queue and proceed directly to Desk 1 (or some such) which handles check-ins for immanent flights. Thus, there is no incentive at all to do the right thing and arrive early — you might as well turn up at the last minute.

The cause of the problem is that three or four of the desks are always unstaffed, but if you complain about this the response is, unfailingly: You think these conditions are hard on you? Just be thankful you don’t work here.

Bastards.