It became the day of the unbundle bungle.
Tiger’s biggest PR stuff up since it held an ANZAC Day sale in 2009-yesterday’s announcement about check-in fees and increased checked baggage charges, certainly generated headlines.
The Singapore Airlines controlled low cost carrier was trying to educate consumers about unbundling air fares.
Several key elements in the confusion that ensued were that the media release was misleading, and the Tiger website, which is weirdly legacy airline in its format, has pages that haven’t been updated for two years, including those related to terms and conditions.
When Tiger announced its changes it also said they would not be incorporated in the web site until this Thursday, July 1, the day the changes came into effect.
Reduced to its elements, this is what happens from July 1.
If you are using its web check in facility, and NOT checking luggage into the hold, and have carry-on items of 7 kgs or less, and you print out your own boarding pass, thus checking yourself in for the flight, you have no reason to go to the counter at the airport to check-in.
Or at least no reason that anyone at Tiger could think of this morning, but in the remote possibility that you do find such a reason, you can pre-pay a visit to the counter for $10, its called a prepay check-in facility, or in the event of a change of mind, go to the counter and pay $15 for the service, which will include a boarding pass if you haven’t been able to find a printer before arriving.
If you are checking luggage into the hold, you will pre-pay $20 for up to 15 kgs or, deep breath, $50 for anything between 15 kgs and 25 kgs, but this includes the checking in and bag tagging process, with no extra fee payable.
(Note that this process is the only one in which there is any probability that your ID will be checked. Not that it matters who you are. Think about it. Anyone can check in with or without baggage for a domestic flight and swop their boarding passes with anyone else whether flying or not once they pass security. ID checks are just another awesomely dumb waste of time that achieves nothing, but I digress.)
In short, from Thursday, it costs you $15 if someone at the counter has to press the PRINT button and generate a boarding pass for you.
And it will cost you up to $50 more than the published (RAW) Tiger fare if you are checking luggage that weights a smidgeon over 15 kgs. Which as pointed out in Plane Talking yesterday, means you can end up paying more than you might pay to fly Virgin Blue, Jetstar or even Qantas because Tiger like Jetstar regularly posts fares that are higher than the expectations most consumers might have of a low fare carrier.
Consumers have good reason to be happy with Tiger. It sells very low fares well in advance for those who can make firm forward plans. It’s presence in the market nourishes competition. But the matrix of conditions it imposes on its fares also encourage comparison shopping, and this will not necessarily win it a sale in a market where fares are sold one way, and mix ‘n match rules for those who are managing their own travel budget, or just after a bargain.