Saturday, January 17, 2015

TRIP REPORT - Proserpine to Sydney to Proserpine - Tigerair (Tiger Airways) Australia - Airbus A320

TRIP REPORT – Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast to Sydney  – Thursday 11 December – Tigerair (Tiger Airways) Australia – TT393 – Airbus A320 – VH-VNF.

Well I had vowed that I would never fly Tigerair (Tiger Airways) Australia due to their unreliability and supposed poor customer service, but on this occasion I swallowed my pride and took a leap of faith... and I was certainly not disappointed!

Tigerair commenced flying into Proserpine / Whitunday Coast Airport in March 2014 making a direct and long-awaited link between Sydney and the Whitsundays.  Patronage has been good on the three-times weekly flights, and recently, Tigerair had announced two additional one-off flights to Prosie for the Christmas and New Year rush.

By far the most appealing things about these Tigerair flights are the timing and cost of the flight. Flying out on either of the two other operators into Prosie - Virgin Australia or Jetstar – would be to Brisbane, requiring a connecting flight onward to Sydney.  This increases not only travel time, but also what I found was the cost – Tigerair was around half the cost.  Tigerair also allow you to pre-book baggage, as well as items like priority boarding, seat allocation and in-flight meals.

I was also acutely aware that we needed to be checked-in some 45 minutes prior to our 10.15am departure, so I made sure we were at Proserpine Airport nice and early!  Easy and quick check-in - only with two agents working - and even an offer to an exit row which was accepted!

There is also a 'bag drop' queue for those who check-in online which Tigerair have also offered for some time.

Through security at Prosie and into the waiting area to await the arrival of our plane - which I saw on Flightradar24 to be A320 VH-VNF.  One of the other appealing things about this particular Tigerair service is the operating aircraft starts its day in Sydney so I believe that the risk of delays is minimal.

Pretty much on time, VH-VNF touched down and parked. Passengers were quickly unloaded and after about 10 minutes the first boarding call was made.

Priority customers - including exit row passengers - were asked to board. We had to push through the rest of the waiting passengers but soon made it on to the Tarmac, up the steps, and into our seats.  Very spacious in the exit row. Nice concise safety card, along with menu and in-flight reading.

Layout of the cabin the typical 3x3 single-aisle style and seats are cloth type.

After final paperwork was done, the engines were started and we taxied for departure off Runway 29 at Proserpine.

After take-off, we made a sweeping left turn back almost over the field, before making a series of right turns to pick up our track south, passing west Mackay and Rockhampton, east of Roma, into New South Wales overhead Tamworth and on to Sydney.

In-flight service commenced with those who had pre-paid meals served first, followed by general cabin service where menu items were for sale.  My wife received her 'beef platter' - three beef sandwiches with various dressings - while I opted for the 'breakfast Turkish meal deal' and coffee combo. Quite nice offerings!

One thing I noticed about the cabin crew was their uniforms still feature the ‘old’ “Tiger Airways Australia” name and logo.

Rubbish was cleared and announcements were made from the flightdeck that we would be skirting some developing storms west of Brisbane, and that we were headed to more storms around Sydney.

Descent commenced and F/O announced an on-time landing but with some turbulence expected on approach to a wet and windy Sydney.  And sure enough, about 5 minutes later, the seatbelt sign came on and stayed on, and there were certainly some bumps as we hit the top of the thick cloud.

Cloud was pretty much the view the rest of the way down until we broke out on short final to Runway 34 Right at Sydney meaning limited views of Sydney on this occasion.

Surprisingly, a smooth landing given the windy conditions outside.  Long taxi back to the terminal and parking on Gate 56 next to another Tigerair A320 which looked a bit like this through the camera!

We made ourselves, the last to disembark as all other passengers seemed in a rush.  Tigerair use both front and back doors, with the back door exposing passengers to the rain.  I was fortunate enough to stick my head into the flight deck for a quick chat with the crew and couple of photos!

A fair wait for our bags – and a fair crowd around the conveyor as it appeared that both Tigerair and REX use one conveyor belt in the terminal.

TRIP REPORT – Sydney to Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast – Tuesday 16 December – Tigerair (Tiger Airways) Australia – TT394 – Airbus A320 – VH-VNO.

So the return journey to Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport with Tigerair started off by us arriving at Terminal 2 at Sydney a bit early so we had to wait to check-in at the minimum of 2 hours prior to our 8.15am scheduled departure. When we were able to, check-in was quite good with 5 agents including 2 servicing the called flight to Cairns. Check-in closes some 45 minutes prior to departure time with Tigerair.

Bags checked-in and through security quickly and off to breakfast. Sitting down and enjoying a coffee, I was able to do a bit of last minute spotting before we headed to Gate 58 at the end of one of the two satellites at Terminal 2.  Out onto the Tarmac at this gate and up the stairs into A320 VH-VNO.

On this flight we were in row 5.  Legroom and space was quite ample for me – I’m 189cm tall and 120kg – and I felt quite comfortable for the entire flight.

After about a 10 minute wait with the door open for "ATC clearance" we soon after had the door shut and push back underway. Taxi straight out via Charlie and straight across Runway 34Left and to the holding point.  I was even able to do some more spotting during taxi!

Pretty quickly today we lined up and rolled down 34Left, passing a few other departing aircraft, and then lifting off, allowing for some nice views of Terminal 1 – the International Terminal at Sydney – and the Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel where we were staying.

Some nice views over the Northern and Western suburbs of Sydney - including Bankstown Airport - before we hit the cloud layer.

We spent some time in cloud, including several bumps for which the seatbelt sign remained on for about 20 minutes.  Above the clouds, the seatbelt sign turned off and the in-flight service started.  The service was similar to our previous flight with pre-orders delivered first and then general service for which we didn’t order due to having a big breakfast back in the terminal.  We both decided to sit back and relax for the 2 hour 10 minute flight up to Proserpine.

Some nice views over inland New South Wales and Queensland, before we crossed the coast near Rockhampton and tracked out over the Coral Sea and past Mackay where we commenced our descent into Prosie.

A couple of left turns and we soon overflew the Airport and onto finals for Runway 11.

Smooth touchdown and quick taxi back to the terminal.

Bags came out in a reasonable amount of time.

Other passengers were busy arranging hire-cars and ground transport in the modern terminal at Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport.

As I said, I had some trepidation flying with Tigerair given some negative reviews and media reports in past years.  I can clearly see that Tigerair have come a long way since they started operations and have grown to become a viable alternative for the travelling public who are looking to fly on a budget, or even fly on routes that aren’t serviced by the major airlines in Australia.  Tigerair also operate frequently on the major East coast services, but also have taken the chance on linking Prosie with Sydney, and also Mackay with Melbourne.

I certainly did enjoy the two flights with Tigerair and with the low price that they charged, I am certainly looking forward to flying with them again given the opportunity!