Beware the crouching Tiger charging at airports. It has replaced its 20 kilograms for $20/25 checked-bag option with a $45 for 25 kilograms up-size offer, and seems to be moving towards a charge for some carry-on items as well.

Two days of asking questions of Tiger has yielded no answers.

Tiger is following the sell-low but hit ’em hard model of ambush ancillary charging found in the US on low-cost carrier Spirit, and emulated by the American legacy carriers as well, and the well-loved counter screwing of the customer techniques practised by Ryanair in Europe.

There is no free checked baggage with Tiger. You pay $15 for up to 15 kilograms for anything that goes in the hold.  The $45 charge for anything larger than 15 kilograms certainly affects its competitive edge in domestic fares, where it has been the price leader in the past year.

But on the booking screen this week Tiger was also showing a new artefact. This was a hand luggage with airport check-in line set at $0.00.

Did that foreshadow a hand luggage charge? Tiger isn’t saying.

Raising the following scenario.

Good morning Miss Crikey. Fetching shoulder bag you have there, $15, and an overcoat, nice, $15. Ooh.  And a briefcase you are holding below the edge of the counter, let’s weigh it.

Ooh ,10 kilograms. Must be a computer. That $10 per kg, which is $100.  Now that comes to $130 carry-on charges on top of your $19 fare.  Rounded up to the nearest $50 increment, that comes to $150.

Cash, credit or debit card? Cash is an extra $10 convenience fee, cards are $20.

Whatddya mean, your walking over to the Virgin?

This morning in Canberra for flights to Melbourne on Friday, before the holiday weekend, Mr Crikey was offered a seat on Virgin Blue for $169, on Qantas for $215, and on Tiger, for $268.