Things are getting tricky for Tiger Airways passengers with bags. A Crikey subscriber was ripped off for $110 for an extra five kg of checked luggage (at $22 per kilo) recently between the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne. At that rate, Tiger’s cheap fares end up being far more costly than a seat on its competitors.

Here is what you need to know but aren’t succinctly told about Tiger’s trickery and evasiveness.

Tiger starts off with a free checked luggage allowance of 15 kilograms, not 20 kgs, like Virgin Blue or Jetstar (apart from its Lite fares, which don’t allow checked baggage at all). The allowance is 32 kilograms on Qantas domestic jets in economy class.

If you want to check more than 15 kg with Tiger, you buy a non-refundable upsize in five kg increments not less than 72 hours before departure that start at $30 extra.

End up a single kg over the limit at check-in on Tiger’s uncompetitive 15 kg limit and the big cat goes “chomp”.

Here is how it looked for a passenger checking in with 20 kg of luggage at the Gold Coast for Melbourne next Saturday, a route chosen because all carriers offered flights at close to the same time of day.

Tiger was cheapest at $77.95 but when the $30 upsize was added to arrive at the same checked bag weight as Jetstar and Virgin Blue, it came in at 95 cents more than both, as each had a cheapest fare with checked bag of $109 in the market.

We have been told by some passengers that at the Gold Coast the Tiger per kg extra charge instead of the bulk advance purchase upsize deal was $10 per kg, so in that scenario a last minute shopper returning home with a 20 kg suitcase would have been asked to fork out an extra $50 at the counter, and ended up paying $20.95 more than flying Virgin Blue or Jetstar. (Tiger hasn’t responded to a query over its per kilo excess rates.)

If the passenger had chosen to fly Qantas (from Brisbane, the nearest Qantas jet service to the Gold Coast) its cheapest fare was $160, but came with a 32 kg allowance rather than 20 kg.

Low cost air fares are now offered by all the major airlines, with Qantas sometimes matching Jetstar if you catch the booking screen at the moment it is flinging a few ‘cheapies’ into the mix.

But Tiger is the only one that currently seems to favour deception and trickery now that Jetstar has moved more into line with Virgin Blue and Qantas with its check-in limits and seat allocation procedures.

The information a customer needs from Tiger to make a fully informed choice on its website is incomplete and inadequately pulled together compared to those of its competitors.