Nov 05

2-row Embraer 170 E-Jet Plane with Leather SeatsFlying from Singapore into Chennai, India, we took Tiger Airways, one of Asia’s most successful Budget Airlines. Operating out of Singapore you should be able to bank on its efficiency and service quality.

It seems with Tiger Airways efficiency is going sometimes a bit too far, up to the point when you as the passenger feel harassed or bullied and more of a necessary hassle for the airline than a human being.

I want to introduce one example of an Airline, from whom Tiger Airways could learn a great deal about Courtesy, Professionalism and Service Quality.

But first, let me explain a few things, which really make Tiger Airways look poor:

  • No problem that they use the Budget Terminal of Singapore’s Changi Airport. It should be a simple, neat and efficient tool. Of course NOT if you only open 2 counters with hundreds of passengers already queuing. It will get a bit tight towards the end. We were in for a 90 minute wait among all other travelers, as the flight was obviously sold out.
  • Tiger’s standard luggage allowance is now only 15 kg per person. Extra can be purchased in 5 kg steps. Seeing the countless bags and coffers of passengers in front of the check-in, one could wonder if anyone would get along with the standard allowance on international routes. But then, competition is cut-throat, right?
  • That’s why we had purchased additional 5 kg per person, bringing the total tally to 40kg for the 2 of us in one big Bag. This our only bag had actually 37 kg, well below the 40 kg allowed. No problem with ValueAir coming from Bali or any airline before or after. Not so with Tiger. One piece of luggage can have here only 32 kg. So having Q-ed for 90 minutes we were asked to repack, because all our luggage was in only 1 bag, which exceeded 32 kg. Otherwise we were told, that they would not be able to transport us, ticket and upgraded weight allowance whatsoever. Hello? Where was that in the fine print? Did you ever repack your plastic-tape-sealed luggage in front of check-in without having another bag to check-in? All within 10 minutes? Simply great!
  • Let’s not complain that you won’t get a wet towel onboard anymore or have to pay even for water on a 4-hour flight. That you won’t be able to chose your seat (you can when booking, for an extra fee) but are punished for causing them troubles with your luggage by being automatically banned into the last row, just before the leaking toilet cabin. At least the stuff tried to cover the horrible smell by spraying room spray every few minutes during the flight. Oh well, I shut up already, after all it’s just a Budget Airline, right?

Let me show you how a real professional budget airline could look like: welcome to India’s Paramount Airways!

Tada! Paramount offers business class service for a budget price.

We booked this Airline from Chennai to Goa, as it was the cheapest direct option, compared to its competition Kingfisher, IndiGo, SpiceJet and Air India.

Now let me tell you, what cheap means for Paramount Airways (listen carefully Tiger Airways!):

  • Upon check-in there were 3 counters open (for a 86-seater Embraer 170/175, instead of 2 for an 200-plus-seater Airbus 320)
  • As there were 4 parties in front of our Q (which was the longest one), we were approached by an airline representative in suit and tie, if we want to join him for a quicker check-in at another counter some 20 meters aside
  • Upon agreeing – this airline representative took over our trolley and moved our luggage himself to the other counter and made sure, that everything was properly checked in and taken care of
  • The luggage allowance was 30kg per passenger on this domestic, 75 Minute flight. Sure enough people usually need less luggage on 4-hour international routes, rrright Tiger? Kah-shinggg!!!
  • As the flight had a delay of 15 minutes, we received a courtesy voucher for snacks and drinks in the departure area (no kidding!), which we exchanged shortly after into Hot Curry Samosa Puffs, Coffee and Masala Tea
  • During boarding there was again the suited airline representative, who made a Japanese-style kotau, apologizing to every passenger for the delay. I’ve never seen anything like that outside of Japan!

White Table Cloth and Full MealsNow to the best part, the plane and the flight (1 hour, 15 minutes):

  • The airplane (a modern Embraer E-Jet 170/175, almost like a corporate jet) had spacious leather seats and only 2 rows left and right of the isle
  • Besides an entertaining Airline magazine (Jetstar is good at that as well, Tiger features mainly advertising in theirs) – every passenger had 4 newspapers to choose from, 2 in English, 2 in Hindi
  • Before take-off you got a wet towel to refresh yourself, and a glass of lime or coconut juice
  • 10 minutes after take-off the stewards laid out a white fabric table cloth for every passenger
  • Vegetarian Indian DishYou could choose between a vegetarian or Indian chicken dish, wish tasted simply great, with yogurt and a sweet dessert as side dishes, some of the best airplane food I ever had besides Singapore Airlines
  • Did I mention that the food came in white porcelain (!) cups/plates with real metal cutlery?
  • Hot coffee or tea was served with the meals, an extra bottle of water and sweet candy was offered after the tables were cleared
  • After meals the crew even handed out a scratch-card lottery ticket when suddenly the flight was already over
  • Upon touch-down I had a last glimpse into the in-flight magazine, noticing that Paramount is in its 3rd year of Business and in black figures already.

How is that even possible?

Anyway, this Indian airline – Paramount Airways – blew me away with its outstanding full service quality for a budget price.

I’m fully aware, that my complaints above regarding Tiger Airways are maybe a mere cry in the rain; that those issues you might have to accept in these days of cut-throat competition in the international airline industries.

But an outstanding Service Attitude as exercised here by Paramount Airways only amplifies the problems of other airlines and shows what an impersonal and stingy bunch of number crunchers the likes of Tiger Airways have become.

I just wish that Paramount would fly international routes (especially to Singapore) soon. There are talks they they are planning to expand internationally by 2011 with routes to Europe and South East Asia.

They would blow mediocre budget players like Tiger Airways out of the water and give them a run for their disenfranchised passengers.

Amen and out!

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written by Chris

15 Responses to “How an Indian Airline blows Tiger Airways out of the sky”

  1. aashNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    I love flying by singapore airlines. It’s really the only way to fly. If you are new to visiting singapore, you might want to check out this singapore tourism guide online. Lists all the places that you should visit and what you should try out.

  2. Nomadic MattNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    wow and i thought bangkok air was good…..i’ll have to make a note of using them…

  3. suhenxNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    you’re a real traveller. Have you ever been to Java island and Karimunjawa island in Indonesia. karimunjawa is more beautiful than bali island. prove it. it’s not complete if you visit Bali without karimunjawa island

  4. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    suhenx, I’ve been to many places on Java, like Baluran, Carita, Bogor, Puncak etc. but never to this Karimunjawa island. Do you have or know some picture gallery or websites about this mystic Karimunjawa island? I would love to find out more about it! :-B

  5. RyanNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I flew Tiger from Clark to Singapore. My main complaint was there was not enough legroom…. I kinda expected that it would be like that though… But when I flew Cebu Pacific from Manila to Shanghai, I was impressed of how much legroom there was, and on their flight to Incheon and back, I was impressed that they actually offer a full-on dinner. It wasnt that great (the chicken was a bit dry) but nonetheless I was surprised… :)

  6. John HunterNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    One line reminds me of a statement I heard from Peter Scholtes: “it would be easy if it were not for all the customers.” Far too many companies seem to have this view – the customers are a bother rather than the purpose.

  7. Trichy TonicNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Looking forward to Paramount linking Trichy to various International destinations soon. L-)

  8. Julia S.No Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    Wow, this seems to be a really good airline. I am impressed.
    But the best airline was Skandinavian Air, when I went to Tokyo. We actually had real Nintendo Gamepads on board to play with. Just for your information.

  9. Yola SNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Luggage restrictions by most airlines now is 32 kgs. to protect baggage staff from injuring themselves from lifting these heavy luggage which makes sense.

    I agree with you though, that budget airlines needn’t treat their passengers appallingly bcoz we can always switch from 1 budget airline to another. As there more and more of them now clamouring for our money they too are feeling the credit crunch so for them to stay in service, their attitude must change. A little caring & decency to poor passengers like us goes a long way.

  10. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Tiger Airways strikes again! Got an e-mail from them, that they changed the schedule for my Chennai-Singapore flight end of April. I have only 48 hours to confirm, by clicking on an e-mail link, that I’m still on with them or I’m out. No other choices, confirm or die. Great customer service isn’t it?

    They have no booking number or office in India, so I tried to call them via their International Customer Center number (a Singapore one). After 15 minutes in the waiting line I hung up. Tried to call their local Singapore office (international call again), similar thing. First, it’s all computer booking and if you have the chance to choose speaking to a human operator after 5 minutes tangling through voice menus, you land in the same waiting line. Another 10 minutes international phone charges wasted.

    Ah yes, they have a no-refund policy! How great. So they can change their schedule anytime and if you don’t like it, you will simply loose your money and ticket. Great Tiger! I’m more than impressed. Guess, that’s it for me with you guys. x(

  11. Serman Arunachalam MurugesanNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    I travelled by Tiger Airways to Singapore during Dec’08 (without any concession – To & Fro) with my Family and on return Journey to Chennai, Tiger Airways lost my Baggage with things worth Rs.50000/- and made me to straded in the Chennai Airport for more than 3 hrs in the midnight with my kids.

    The worst Story is after 4 months of hectic followups, they sent me the Cheque for Rs.19000/- (in Singapore $), which is non-presentable, since the amount column of the cheque left Balank. For which now I have been flg up with them for last one month and there is no response.

    Can you please suggest, in what way I could get right response from them in getting my baggage or Compensation from Tiger Airways. And how to make them to understand their worst Service to the Customer…

    Serman Arunachalam Murugesan

  12. ChrisNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    Serman, that’s a very unfortunate story. Hard to suggest another/better way, as you got already some compensation. If that doesn’t reflect the value of your luggage or its contents you should try to contact them again, via their website or by sending an official complaint directed to their CEO. Calling usually doesn’t help, I spent myself already too much time in their waiting loops, even worse, if you call from overseas.

    You can only try to avoid them next time or travel only with hand luggage and hope for the best. :(

  13. JonasNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Chris, read through your article definitely agree that Tiger Airways is awful. However, what really surprised me most was when I recently flew United Airlines, supposedly a full fare airline which is even worse than Tiger in every respect apart from waiting time at counter…

    Btw. – in case you are still interested in information on Karimunjawa you can check out or page:

  14. KKNo Gravatar CHINA Says:

    Tiger’s call service is simply horrible. My flight was delayed more than 4 hours and I gave up waiting at the airport. Submitted my refund form but nothing got back to me. Then, I called the call centre and there was no customer service option. It took 25 mins to pick up your call. Filed my refund request and again nothing got back to me. Called again and I was told to fax my request again. I wanted to speak to someone at a higher level and he was not in. What can I say!

  15. Asia Singapore BlogNo Gravatar TURKEY Says:

    My wife and I have stopped flying with Tiger Airways 2 years ago when a lady on its counter behaved us terrible and then we could find no means to complain about her to Budget terminal or Tiger Airways. The issue was that I have purchased a ticket from Tiger Airways office and although I told him the total kg of my luggage several times and asked “is this the total we will pay?” (he replied “yes”), they wanted to charge us on the counter for what they think is extra.

    We totally make around 10-15 trips per year in South East Asia (I also fly budget for business trips) and they have lost all to Jetstar because of an untamed young woman! She was probably not their stuff, she was working for the budget terminal.

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