Travelling Homebody reviews Tiger Air and says fuck you for solo traveller discrimination.

My review of Tiger Air: that’s a big FUCK YOU!

I had not travelled Tiger Air before my trip back to Bali on the 5th of November. I assumed that it would be like travelling other low-fare carriers like Virgin (who I sent a big  FUCK YOU to last year) and Jetstar. I was right, but it was worse. Much, much worse. So here’s my review of Tiger Air, in which I say a big FUCK YOU and explain why.

The carry-on curse

Every carrier I’ve travelled with has always had a, shall we say, flexible to approach to carry-on. Assuming (I know, I know, big mistake) the same thing, I packed my laptop and tablet, a carry-on backpack with my DSLR camera and cords, and a tote with a few items in for easy reach, for example, my travel documents, my book and my water bottle. I had 15kg of luggage, which was reasonably light, considering I am travelling for at least three months. All-in-all, it was standard for someone travelling solo. And I’ll come back to that point.

So, I sidled up to the check-in counter, am offered an exit row, which I politely decline (I like sitting as far back in the plane as I can for long haul trips. Yes, I know I can’t recline my chair, but there’s no one sitting behind me to kick it, which is why it’s my spot of choice). I load my backpack on the conveyor belt. 14.5kg. Phew. I was under.

Then I say these three fatal words: ‘I have carry-on.’ 

The girl looked at what I had, and said immediately: ‘You have too much. You can only carry on 7kg. You’re going to have to check a bag. There’s an excess baggage fee, just so you know. $30 per kilo.’

‘What?’ I responded. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! This has never been an issue with other airlines. And I travel A LOT.’

The girl gave me a withering smile and said, ‘Have you ever travelled with Tiger Air?’

I responded in the negative, and her withering smile turned to a pitying one. ‘So which bag do you want to check? Your carry on will still be over, but I’ll let you off.’

My brain went into meltdown*. I was conscious that there were people lining up to check in and I was holding them up. I was conscious that I had to make a decision about which things I would put in the bag I had to check PLUS keep the weight down. I was conscious that I was sending an unlocked bag into Bali, as I didn’t have spare locks. I was conscious that I looked like a rookie traveller, and I was humiliated and embarrassed. I was conscious that if I were travelling with another person or persons, this wouldn’t have been an issue, because my carry-on load could have been spread between us.

Forced to pay

That thought made me really angry. This was solo traveller discrimination and price gouging. Nothing more, nothing less. And there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t say: I don’t I like your policy and I’m going to get another flight with a more solo traveller friendly airline. I had paid for the flight, I had accommodation in Bali booked and an airport transfer waiting for me. I had to get on that flight. And I paid $180 extra for the privilege. That’s for $30 for each 6kg for my extra checked bag. I could afford it, but that’s not the point.

I got on that flight, stressed, humiliated and my usually organised carry on in complete disarray. I checked out what other people were carrying. There some big bags going into the overhead lockers that would have weighed a lot more than 7kg. And there was plenty of space. I could easily have fit my stuff in. And I got angrier and angrier.

To be honest, it took me three days to get my head right after this experience. It was awful.

Why this is a case of solo traveller discrimination

There are a lot of solo travellers in the world today: digital nomads, empty-nesters, young people on their gap year, partnered people who leave their partners home and go off travelling alone because their partner doesn’t like travelling. People who just like travelling on their own because it’s easier and less stressful and you don’t have to deal with other people’s drama.

The only thing is: it often isn’t cheaper. In fact, it can be downright expensive. I have been on a number of tours and cruises where I have been forced to pay the single supplement. I say “forced” because I won’t share a room with a random stranger (yes, I know people have met some amazing people sharing a room, but I also know people who have met psychopathic weirdos). I have to pay for privacy.

Of course, the internet has levelled the playing field somewhat in recent years, and hotels and cruise lines are wising up to the fact that there are a lot of people travelling solo who spend quite a bit of money. Solo travellers are banding together to dish the dirt on who charges a single supplement so they can be avoided. Word of mouth is powerful… and did I mention there are a lot of us travelling solo now? When I pay for the room on Booking.com or AirBnB, a room is a room irrespective of how many people are in it. The room is still paid for. Thank God accommodation has gotten with the program in the last few years.

And when you think about it solo travellers are better for environment. We use less water, and only one towel, so there’s less washing. We don’t use all the toiletries that are supplied, so we cost less. We are inclined to spend more in-house than partnered travellers. I’ve paid for meals from the hotel (including room service), and had a drink in the bar because it was easier to eat in than schlep around finding somewhere to go for dinner.

So this $180 that I was forced to pay by Tiger Air is solo traveller discrimination. Two people travelling together have 14kg of carry-on allowance between them. If there are three, it’s 21kg. Four, 28kg. You get the picture. A solo traveller has to lug all their gear and try to fit it all in within the 7kg allowance. If you are travelling with family or friends, you can share the load. If you are over, someone can carry the laptop, someone else can carry the camera. Solo travellers don’t have that luxury.

Playing fare

I call on the airlines to increase the carry-on allowance for solo travellers to 10kg. It would be so easy to have a check box when people are booking. And for airlines worried about people telling falsehoods about their travel status, ping them.

After all, it’s only fare (see what I did right there?).

*If I’d have been thinking straight (which was impossible in the circumstances) I would have grabbed my day pack out of my checked luggage (which is a backpack to which my day pack attaches) and loaded it up with stuff and checked it. I would have put more stuff in my backpack. But I wasn’t thinking straight. Fuck you Tiger Air for making me feel stupid and inadequate.

 

5 Comments

  • Laura Roberts November 17, 2016 at 4:22 am

    WOW! That is a crazy fine for having excess luggage, especially if the company didn’t warn you about their policies when you were booking. And extra shitty that all the other carry-ons were overweight, too. I’d have been angry as well!

    Reply
    • Diane Lee November 17, 2016 at 8:46 am

      My daughter said at the time (as she ran off to buy extra locks): ‘Everyone knows Tiger is strict with carry-on, Mum.’ Everyone but ME! Other budget airlines have NEVER counted my laptop as carry-on and I was expecting the same with this carrier. I was wrong.

      Reply
  • Georgina Barnett November 17, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Having just travelled for 7 weeks to 4 countries (7destinations) with my two sisters and husband in tow, I feel your pain. I had one check in and a small hand bag. Both sisters had an additional cabin case as did Will. 7kg is the standard for cabin, but what the airlines did was weigh the check in and the carry on together (never the handbags) and if the total equaled 27kg you were good to go. Mind you we all learned a lesson, One bag only – catching trains and walking around Europe with 2 cases is not on. Less is best ?

    Reply
    • Diane Lee November 17, 2016 at 9:09 am

      I agree. Less is best, but I have NEVER had my laptop counted as carry-on by any airline. And I mistakenly thought it would be the same in this case. I was wrong!

      Reply
  • Why I've been quiet of late... - Diane Lee December 28, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    […] 16/11/2016 – My review of TigerAir (that’s a big FUCK YOU!) […]

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