Tiger Airways: Why treating customers like farm animals helps build their brand

In a recent trip to Melbourne, I thought I was taking advantage of Tiger Airways extremely low prices and landing myself a great deal on airfares. Sure the process seemed smooth enough (despite the extra wait time required at Sydney terminal before the flight at check in). The flight itself was straightforward and the extra fee we chose to pay to get seats in the exit row was worth it for my 6’4″frame.

Although once you add in charges for ‘extra’ luggage (above your included carry on allowance) and the ‘exit row’ suddenly the $25 ‘bargain’ tickets no longer look like such a bargain (Approaching, but not quite at VirginBlue or Jetstar rates for a comparable flight). This was not entirely a surprise, as there is always a catch somewhere, and we felt like taking a punt on a new airline “for the experience”.

What was a surprise though, was how Tiger Airways treat their customers once they arrive at their terminal (T4) at Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine).Tiger Airways Terminal Melbourne

The baggage claim area for Tiger Airways was essentially a tin shed with chicken wire walls on a concrete floor.

Tiger Airways Terminal Melbourne

The exit to the terminal/baggage claim area.

I couldn’t help but feel like I was being herded through the terminal like a cow to the slaughter by Tiger Airways. What was interesting on reflecting on the experience was that Melbourne Airport is Tiger Airways primary hub for operating in Australia. This struck me as odd that they would construct their premier hub in Australia in such a cheap and nasty way.

On further analysis though, it is entirely reasonable for a cut price operator in any industry to ‘dress’ the part. If the visual cues when flying Tiger are true to the sense that you are saving money, this reinforces the purchase decision and acts as a feedback loop to solidifying the perception that the customer has managed to purchase a ticket on the cheapest airline around.

Does this ‘build’ Tiger Airways brand? It certainly acts as an important differentiator to the other airlines offerings in Australia, that in itself is important in carving out a niche  for the brand against a market that has two strong ‘value’ offerings in Virgin Blue and Jetstar. Being ‘value’ isn’t enough of a differentiator. But being ‘cheap’ is. I’d call it a success, though I’ll be flying another airline next time.

10 thoughts on “Tiger Airways: Why treating customers like farm animals helps build their brand”

  1. Interesting. I flew Adelaide to Alice Springs on Tiger a few weeks ago but didn’t see any of those brand signifiers. Yeah, the extra wait time was a bit annoying. But they just used the normal baggage claim at Alice Springs like any other airline. I didn’t get the whole “budget” vibe as much as you did. (I actually got it more from Jetstar, thanks to their asinine policy of making everyone dump their hot drinks before they get on the plane just so they can charge you $5 for a shit coffee.)

    Of course, a week later a friend was flying Tiger from Sydney to Melbourne, and she had a hell of a time. She decided after booking the tickets that she wanted to check a bag. Paying for the checked bag when booking costs $10, paying it at the counter costs $25. There’s no way to change your booking online though, and no one answers the phone when you call. (She tried for a full day.) That customer service experience sure reinforced the “cheap” aspect to me.

  2. my partner was supposed to be on a 12.50 flight out of sydney today and at 3.40 was still waiting to board his flight to melbourne. he’s supposed to be at work at 6pm tonight. tiger tiger burning bright…watch em burn right out, we won’t be flying them ever ever again.

  3. My experience was very similar. I wanted to check it out. Luckily I scheduled my flights with plenty of time either way – but if I was flying in for a quick meeting and had to be on time, I wouldn’t use them. They are just not reliable.

    And while the whole experience wasn’t “bad”, I walked away with the same impression – that Tiger was just not interested in its customers. It was my first flight with Tiger, and I am sure it will be my last. And that seemed to be the topic of conversation amongst many of those who were waiting in what felt like a Tullamarine feedlot prior to boarding.

  4. True points it seems they are working to bring the true Ryanair experience to Australia, low cost doesn’t have to be low quality.

  5. I wonder if they’ll bring the other neat “innovations” that Ryanair brought – like charging 40euro (~ $70) for printing a boarding pass at the airport if you couldn’t print one before rushing to a flight.

  6. If you did some research, you’d realise that the very ‘terminal’ in question is the old Virgin Blue terminal – you have to start somewhere, and when you’re launching into a country, the last thing you want are massive over-heads. I disagree that Tiger don’t care about their customers – I fly them more regularly than the other carriers and always find their staff welcoming. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ll take a nice, natural smile and a tin shed over a stuck-up slag who just wants to get home, out of her shinny terminal any day.

  7. Tiger Airways the worst airline in the world ! We have had a cruise embarkation changed by the cruise company away from Bangkok due to the recent red shirt trouble. A flight booked with Tiger is now useless but Tiger refuse a refund. When I pointed out that the airport tax and fees which make up the whole ticket price as Tiger were offering free flights from Bangkok to Singapore worth only fees payable (A$210)is fully refundable they say then its a $50 charge per person and we will only refund you $30 of the fees as the other charges were for luggage and seat allocation and booking fees. In short, claim $60 but charges are $50. Tiger Airways are for sure a RIP OFF company anyone considering booking any flights with TIGER AIRWAY should think seriously about their lack of car and customer service. Tiger airways are the worst airline in the world. Never fly Tiger if there are other carriers.

  8. I wish you had snapped some photos of the departing building, it is like a refugee building crammed with people. Awful, I’ll never fly to or from Melbourne with Tiger airways again.

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