Tiger Airways’ Massive Customer Service Fail

It’s official. My luggage is lost.

It’s only taken Tiger Airways 41 days to let me know.

Given how frustratingly uncommunicative Tiger has been up until now, the email to let me know that the bag is lost was a bit of a surprise.

Ironically, four minutes after I read the lost luggage email, another email from Tiger arrived in my inbox. This time advertising super-cheap “pack and go” fares. You can imagine the unladylike snort of derision I gave at that. Because everything I so carefully packed 41 days ago is lost. Some things are irreplaceable, like my trusty Swiss army knife that I bought in Switzerland, the groovy silver rings that were to be gifts for my sisters, the running shoes my usually tight-fisted dad bought for me …

It’s only stuff and losing it isn’t the end of the world. But still … trying to wring information out of Tiger Airways over the past five and a bit weeks has been truly agonising.

I am, to put it politely, one very pissed off Tiger customer. And that is unusual for me because I’m usually pretty laid back.

Here’s what went down.

On February 9, Miss M and I excitedly arrived at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport for our arduous-but-cheap journey to Australia. At the boarding gate we hear an announcement saying the flight will be delayed for several hours. I immediately tracked down a Tiger staff member and asked about our connecting flight. I was assured everything would be OK.

But everything was not OK. We missed our flight to Sydney, we were told that Tiger, as a budget airline, takes no responsibility for missed connections, not even code-share connections booked through Tiger’s very own website. So Miss M and I slept on the floor of Singapore Airline’s Transit Lounge E. At 3am with a tired three-year-old it seemed to be our only option.

Stranded

At dawn a couch became available. Yay!

When we woke up I tried to deal with the luggage situation. Because I missed the flight I was supposed to go find my luggage and re-check it. Problem was … in the rush to get off the plane as fast as possible I somehow lost my baggage tags. So I was told I had to go down to the lost luggage desk and identify my luggage from the towering stacks of unclaimed suitcases, backpacks and rolly-bags.

But it wasn’t there. I was sent out the back to a room filled with more lonely luggage. Not there either. I was allowed to fill out a lost luggage form. All while trying to control a tired-yet-overly-energetic three-year-old who just wanted to run, jump, scream and expose my underwear to the world.

Just before I began hauling Miss M through the wastelands of Singapore’s Changi Airport again, I thought to ask for a phone number for the lost luggage desk so I could organise where to collect my bag when someone finally found it. Because I had been rebooked on a 2am flight to Sydney and I was pretty sure wrangling Miss M past midnight for a second night in a row was going to be rough.

I scrawled the phone number across the top of my missing luggage form. And I had a point of contact. Because there is no phone number on the form and no phone number on Tiger’s website. And Tiger apparently never checks its emails or its Twitter feed. Tiger, it seems, doesn’t like dealing with its customers at all.

I called this precious Tiger lost luggage phone number repeatedly from Singapore and from Australia. When someone deigned to pick up the phone I was told that I would be emailed when my luggage turned up. That was the answer to all of my questions:  What happens if you can’t find the luggage? Where could it be? What went wrong? And the ultimate question: what do I do without my luggage???

“Madam, just wait for the email,” the people on the phone said. “We will email you when we find the bag.”

There’s been no email.

I mounted a social media campaign, backed by travel bloggers from around the world, who bombarded @TigerAirwaysSG with tweets about my lost luggage. There was no official response at all but after a couple of days I received an obscure email from Tiger’s underwriter, Charles Taylor Aviation, requesting various documents and a list of all the items in my luggage, as well as the cost and weight of each item.

And now the mysterious Farhana from Charles Taylor Aviation has emailed me to say the bag is now deemed lost. There’s no mention of any compensation from the airline or how I could go about claiming it.

It is SO UTTERLY FRUSTRATING. And that’s before I even start the process of making a claim on my travel insurance.

It’s interesting to note that about a week before our fateful flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore, Tiger was named Australia’s most complained about airline. And I really can see why. Dealing with the airline is maddening. The customer service protocols appear to be non-existant and no one seems to care that this particular customer is hopping mad and substantially out of pocket from what was supposed to be a cheap trip home to see family.

Shame, Tiger Airlines. Shame.

Thumbs-down-icon

5 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Currently on a year-long World School adventure with my two kids, seeing what this wonderful world can teach us.

25 Comments

  1. Well I’m just glad you never showed up to the park naked……..!

  2. I’d be hopping mad too! What a frustrating situation. I’m so sorry you had to deal with all that! Hopefully the compensation process is much smoother.
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Touring the DMZ and Dorasan Station

  3. Jenny says:

    What a shame. But predictable. After all, where should the difference be between cheap and “normal” airlines? Let’s thank someone above that they did not cut costs at safety issues – yet…

    And you know what? People will keep flying with Tiger and other no-frills-airlines anyway – because it’s cheap. And that’s what counts biggest, for most.
    (I am really interested which airline you will choose for your next flight … ;-))

    • Barbara says:

      Of course people will continue to fly budget airlines, Jenny. I’m a big fan of budget airlines but I’m not a fan of crap customer service. I’ll fly Tiger again because they fly out of Ho Chi Minh City and they’re cheap. But I don’t think I’ll take their Ho Chi Minh City-Singapore-Sydney route again. It’s just too much hassle. Next time we go home I’ll fly direct to Brisbane on Vietnam Airlines. That way there’s no chance I’ll end up sleeping on the floor of Singapore airport again. 🙂

  4. budget jan says:

    I can totally feel your frustration. 41 days is a long time, and a lot of unanswered calls and bad bad customer service. Surely they could provide someone to respond to phonecalls via email if not by phone. Receiving an update would at least reassure you that they are doing something. In this case you are left wondering if they ever tried to find the bag at all 🙁
    budget jan recently posted..Resuming our Mekong River Trip from Luang Prabang to Pak Ou Caves

    • Barbara says:

      I wouldn’t have thought it was too difficult to provide an update or two in a case like this, Jan. Soooo frustrating to be left in the dark even after vigorous pro-active efforts to find out what was going on.

  5. Talon says:

    I’ve heard a LOT of bad things about Tiger, but I must say that after your experience I won’t fly with them, even when they are the cheapest airline in my searches. It just isn’t worth saving money when you will be treated like crap.
    Talon recently posted..Experiencing neighborhoods in Paris

    • Barbara says:

      I have to say Tiger’s flight crew treated me well enough. Although it would have been nice if the first person I asked about my connecting flight actually made a call or something to check that there would be no problem. Surely they could have held the plane for five minutes … or told me hours ahead of time that I was going to miss the flight. I have friends in Singapore and there’s lots of hotels there. I could have organised somewhere to stay if I found out BEFORE 1.40am that we were going to miss the 2am flight.

  6. Dave says:

    Your hassle with Tiger has had me excluding them from search results for the last few weeks. I’ve got a bunch of flights within Asia and to/from/within Australia coming up, and even though Tiger is sometimes a little cheaper than the others, saving $20 becomes insignificant when something goes wrong.

    Most of my flights with Tiger would have been to connect with other long-haul flights, and it’s so not worth the chances of missing a flight and being screwed over by them when you do. I’m a huge fan of budget airlines, but I’ll be choosing Jetstar or Air Asia any day of the week. Neither of them are perfect, but in my experience, they’re still far ahead of Tiger. You’d think with the grounding that Tiger had in Australia, and the subsequent loss of reputation, they’d be interested in keeping their remaining customers happy. Apparently not…
    Dave recently posted..The Friday Photo #153 – Weeds with a view

    • Barbara says:

      Yeah, sometimes it’s just not worth saving $20. Although for us a $20 saving becomes $60. It all adds up when you have dependents!

      But I wouldn’t be relying on Tiger to get you to a connecting flight. Missing international flights is hideously expensive. I am just thankful that Tiger didn’t make me pay to rebook our Singapore-Sydney flight.

  7. Budget is definitely not worth it when it has the possibility of ending like this. I always prefer to fly budget, but I also check out customer reviews before booking an airline, and if there are too many reviews like this, I say NO WAY. I’m willing to spend that extra money–and you can bet Tiger will be on that blacklist for me, as well. No way I would consider checking luggage with them…oh, and the issue of not accepting responsibility for missed connecting flights? Yeah, a no go.

  8. Bridget says:

    Note to self…..NEVER fly Tiger Airlines. I have watched with increasing incredulity the apalling manner in which you have been treated. The lack of care, accountability and empathy demonstrated by Tiger Airlines is staggering. Shame indeed…..

  9. Your experience of travel becomes tainted after an episode like this. I find it appauling that any company would behave in this way to paying customers. I agreee with a lot of the other commentors in that sometimes a little review hunting and spending a few extra dimes is worth it to save you the infuriating task of dealing with idiocy such as this. Thanks for publicly awarding Tiger with a black mark. I hope it will make them re evaluate their customer service policy.
    Charli l Wanderlusters recently posted..There Are No Strangers Here

  10. Denise says:

    Hi Barbara,
    I totally understand your frustration, but in a way, it’s like me buying cheap shoes and then complaining that they hurt and I need to chuck them in the bin after a month of trying to break into them…I just stopped buying these shoes even if the other option was more expensive, if you know what I mean. The ridicolously low fares of Tiger compared to its competitors are for a reason and since they can’t (thank god) reduce costs on safety they do so, for example, in customer service.

    I have heard really good things about Airasia though, so maybe you can give them a try?

    • Barbara says:

      I don’t think it is the same as buying cheap shoes, Denise. I’m happy enough to buy my food on board and sit amongst other peoples Pringles crumbs on a budget flight. I’m also happy enough to get to the boarding gate ridiculously early so aircraft can turn around in 30 minutes. (I know the business model that low-cost carriers operate on because I used to be a transport reporter.) But this kind of non-communication is ridiculous from a company that deals with so many customers every day. Tiger needs to lift its game and get its customer service protocols sorted out so that when something goes wrong people know what will happen next.

      • Denise says:

        Hi Barbara,

        I see what you mean, but what I find is that usually the level of service is equal to how well the staff is treated and paid (think of Qantas which is getting a bad reputation for service as a result of the above) I think with low cost airlines paying their staff not as well as fully-serviced airline, this is the result. What do you think?

        I myself have done this in the past (though I am ashamed of it), when I worked in the service industry but my salary was laughable – I found that I struggled to care for good customer service

  11. Heather says:

    Maybe Tiger has cheap fares because they are not concerned about customer satisfaction just bums on seats. They need to be made aware bad publicity travels fast and the best way to promote your business is by word of mouth from satisfied customers.

  12. arti says:

    We shared same case. My baggage is also lost when i went back from Hongkong to Jakarta last Feb. My flight transitted in Singapore and since it was 10pm sing time when we arrived and the connecting flight scheduled the next morning so i decided to buy tigerconnect program so that i dont need to reclaim my baggage in Changi. They will put it on the connecting flight. I paid SG$20 to get this feature. And when i arrived in Jakarta the baggage wasn’t there. It’s been 25 days now and i only received an email from that Farhana you mention that also asked me to fill out the form. They even hadn’t read my email yet attaching the lost baggage form. It’s kind a pain in the ass!

    • Barbara says:

      So sorry to hear that Arti. It is a total pain in the ass, isn’t it?

    • Herlambang says:

      I have same situation! My baggage was lost when arrived in GuangZhou 2 Dec 2013. I notice TigterAir and responded by Charles Aviation, a stranger name that I feel have nothing to do with me. That state – We will return to you within 5 to 10 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays). This is bloody ridiculous. While people in need of asistance they want me to wait another 5 to 10 days! Shamefulservice! And they just do what they like. waiting desperately for their r4epond, 11 Dec I wrote an email, until 18th they asked me to send all the documents related, and I sent all that rightaway, noreply, no receipt, no information whether all the documents received or not, until today they declared that the baggage was deemed lost, and once again asked me to fill in a form and attached the relevant documents which I had sent, …….. my God! What’re you doing! Or perhaps too many complaints for Tiger!? What I want to know is where about of my baggages, and what’s your responsibility, and what you will pay for compensation! I am afraid I have same experience as you’re. Friends let have something to do with this Shameful TIGER AIRWAYS!

  13. […] Two days after my bag was declared officially lost by Tiger Airway’s underwriter, I got a call saying my bag had been […]

  14. […] just like every other travel disaster, like Darling Man being refused a Schengen visa and Tiger losing our luggage, we coped. We took it in our stride and focused on the fun part of travel, which is seeing new […]

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