Save yourself the hassle, skip Tiger Air, choose a better airline, and enjoy your holiday peacefully. Here’s how the author found out.
By Timothy Ho
I’ve heard of a bad flying experience, delayed flights, and poor customer service standards. But never in my life have I ever encountered an airline with a service standard so poor, it spoilt my entire night, or rather, my entire honeymoon plans.
And I’m not alone, I know of people whose wedding plans have been ruined. You can’t postpone a wedding, my friend had to scramble to re-book her entire family on any flights they could get just so her wedding would happen. And I’m sure many more have been affected just as adversely.
The fiancée and I booked our honeymoon trip to Bali via Tiger Air, a mistake I will never repeat. We got this email earlier today:
Dear XXX, It is with much regret that we have to inform you that due to financial circumstances, PT Mandala Airlines (“Mandala”), which airline operates under the brand-name of Tigerair Mandala (flight designator “RI”) will cease operations from 1 July 2014.
The decision by the Board of Mandala was a difficult one. The Board took into consideration several factors, including prevailing market conditions, the airline’s ability to compete effectively with existing resources, and the continued overcapacity in the Indonesian budget airline sector.
The Board also worked very hard to find alternative solutions to continue operations but to no success. This evening, they announced their decision to cease operations of Mandala.
Following this announcement, the last flight to be operated by Mandala will be RI545 on 1 July 2014, which is scheduled to depart Hong Kong for Denpasar at 0235 hours. All other flights operated by Mandala (flight designator “RI”) on 1 July 2014 and thereafter will be cancelled. As a result, your flight booking under reservation I5TR8M will be cancelled.
Under normal circumstances, we would make arrangements for an alternative flight or refund the fare paid for flight cancellations. However, we are unable to fulfill this commitment.
The Tigerair Group is willing to assist all affected customers with either a flight transfer or a refund for tickets booked for travel on 1 July or thereafter. Although Tigerair has no legal obligation or responsibility to do so, they have taken this unilateral action as a gesture of goodwill. All legal obligations and responsibilities still rest with Mandala.
If you require assistance with a flight transfer or a ticket refund, you must contact either the Mandala call centre +62(021) 2939-6688 or the Tigerair call centre by 31 July 2014. You may check the Tigerair website,tigerair.com, for additional information.
Please inform any other passengers in your travelling party as soon as possible.
We wish to thank you for your support for Mandala and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused to your travel plans.
President PT Mandala Airlines
What this email actually meant to us?
1. Tiger Air cannot be bothered contacting its customers.
They decided to cancel the flight abruptly and completely. They claimed they are extremely sorry about this incident. Yet they did not even bother to call, or even send an SMS to inform affected passengers about this. They decided an email was sufficient…
Pardon me, they did not even send an email. They forwarded it. It was a freaking FORWARDED EMAIL, which they forwarded to us.
I paid my money to Tiger Air, and before today I doubt most people knew Mandala Airlines was in charge of refunding them should anything happen. I wonder what Tiger Air is and is not responsible now to be honest, and you should be worried too.
2. Tiger Air has the audacity to claim the moral high ground.
Notice the email signature? Is not even by Tiger Air. They conveniently shifted the blame, and state they have no legal responsibilities. Excuse me, but if a flight is being flown under the Tiger Air brand name, I expect some responsibility from Tiger Air. It’s common sense.
According to Tiger Air, they are not obliged to refund customers. Here’s the quote again, in case you missed it the first time.
“Under normal circumstances, we would make arrangements for an alternative flight or refund the fare paid for flight cancellations. However, we are unable to fulfill this commitment.”
The bottom-line is that they can choose to cancel flights as and when they feel like, and there is nothing any of us “customers” can do about it.
3. Don’t expect Tiger Air to solve any problems.
If there is a genuine problem and you want to help your customers, maybe you can start it off by being sincere.
As for Tiger Air, they obviously do not think this is something important to them. Notice how the email is worded.
“If you require assistance with a flight transfer or a ticket refund, you must contact either the Mandala call centre +62(021) 2939-6688 or the Tigerair call centre by 31 July 2014. You may check the Tigerair website, tigerair.com, for additional information.”
First things first, of course I need assistance! I already paid for my flight in full! Do they expect me to simply not require assistance? When you have already collected my airfare in full? Isn’t that fraud?
Secondly, where is Tiger Air’s call centre hotline should I wish to call them? Obviously they want me to call the other party.
And as if the EMAIL cancellation of the flight wasn’t dodgy enough. Tiger Air still had the cheek to include a clause indicating that if affected customers do not contact them by July, it will be assumed that they do not need any help and the case is closed. Who gave them the permission to simply give an arbitrary date? Businesses should be run based on trust and ethics, and I expect the authorities to take a close look at whether they want to expose their people to such businesses.
4. Getting your money back is going to be complicated
Let me save you the agonising experience. After spending about 30 minutes on the phone waiting to get through to the customer service operator so that we can get back our $600, we finally got through. The conversation lasted about three minutes. Why?
Because they give us another number to call instead. They claim that the other number, who is their “agent”, will help with this situation. Again, did their agent collect our money, or was it Tiger Air? Basically they are just round tripping us in the hopes that people will just let the matter die a silent death.
Conclusion & Key takeaways
Book your flight with an airline that actually cares about their customers.
Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.
Tiger Air is not going to screw me twice.
This post was first published on Dollars and Sense.