Tigerair the ‘Worst Airline in Australia’ By Complaints

Tiger Qantas
  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • May 20, 2015 at 11:15 AM

The latest complaints data for Australia’s airline industry has shown Tigerair is heads and tails ahead of the others when it comes to customer issues.

According to the Airline Customer Advocate’s 2014 Annual Report, Tigerair had almost twice as many complaints as the other airlines in the report (Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Regional Express), with refund requests the biggest issue.

According to Airline Customer Advocate Julia Lines, Tiger had 47.1 complaints about refund requests for every million customers it carried in 2014 – bringing it to a total of approximately 155 complaints for the year. In comparison, Jetstar had 11.1 complaints per 1 million customers, Virgin had 7.5, Qantas had 4.4, and Regional Express had just 2.8 (although the latter did only carry just over a million passengers in 2014).

Lines, whose position is funded by the airlines, says complaints increased 13% on the previous year, but resolutions were just under 60%.

While refund requests made up almost a third of all complaints, followed by flight delays/cancellations, terms and conditions, fees or charges, and airport customer services.

Tigerair has received the most complaints for all three of the Airline Customer Advocate’s reports so far, followed by Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas, with the smallest airline of the lot ­ – Regional Express, or Rex – receiving the least complaints overall.

Despite the results of these reports, Tigerair says it has been improving its performance over the past year and is getting better feedback from customers as a result.

Tigerair Australia’s head of communications, Vanessa Regan, says that the report only goes up to the end of 2014 and “doesn’t highlight the number of improvements that we’ve put in place in recent times, which actually have improved not only our on-time performance but our customer satisfaction significantly.”

“For Tigerair we’re all about putting the customer first and we don’t believe that low-cost should be mean low customer service,” she says in an interview with the ABC.

“We have put in place a number of product enhancements, process improvements, and we’re really seeing a lot of significant up-swing in customer satisfaction over recent times.”

Regan also notes that it is often low-cost carriers that receive the brunt of complaints, particularly around refunds, because of the way their fares work.

“Well I think it’s important to note that we are a true low-cost carrier, and what that means is we’re a non-refundable airline. This is one way that we’re able to pass on lower fares to our customers,” she says.

“So generally low-cost carriers are likely to receive more refund request complaints than full service carriers, for example, because of the nature of the model.”

That could explain why Tiger and Jetstar are the top two most complained about airlines in Australia, but the results still suggest customers need to be careful about how and when they book if they want to get the best deal (any/or their money back).

Images: Tigerair and Qantaslink planes, credit: Bidgee via Wikimedia Commons; a table from the Airline Customer Advocate report, source: Airline Customer Advocate website.

Airline Customer Advocate report
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