Jetstar: Reliably unreliable
CHOICE members’ biggest gripe with Jetstar is its frequently delayed flights: “The only reliable thing about Jetstar is that it will depart late,” says Declan. But Janet takes a different view: “The in-flight service was the best I have ever experienced. We were very impressed with the staff.” Members’ other major gripe is Jetstar’s cramped seating. “If you’re more than six feet tall, you’ll be in constant pain as the seats are too close together,” warns Derek. Members also found Jetstar’s web check-in service confusing.
Tiger: Budget prices, budget service
In our previous survey, most member complaints around Tiger Airways related to flight delays. Little has changed – delays without explanation and slow check-in processes continue to grate with members. Those travelling to or from Melbourne (the airline’s Australian hub is at Tullamarine) bore the brunt of Tiger’s infrastructural shortcomings. Says Ashley: “The check-in staff were rude, extremely strict on baggage allowance and only accepted cash for excess luggage. The long walk to baggage collection is fenced off and outdoors – we felt like livestock.” However, many members who flew with the airline were realistic. Says one member: “You get what you pay for – Tiger is a basic, no-frills carrier, but is very cheap. Because I fly quite regularly to visit family interstate, Tiger is the best compromise for me.”
Virgin Blue: Victorious again
Virgin Blue once again tops our member survey as the preferred domestic carrier. Overall, its satisfaction scores ranked first or second across the board. CHOICE member Murray, who flies interstate regularly, says: “The Virgin Blue people have always – and I mean always – given great service.” Virgin Blue also rated well with less able passengers. “My husband is a 120kg paraplegic, and this airline gave service that we have only experienced in US,” says CHOICE member Gene. “They were attentive and professional under the stress of a late departure.” But several members were not happy that Virgin’s in-flight entertainment system was not working on some of its flights. “I travelled with a two-year-old, so it was a priority,” says one. “But it didn’t work and was a disappointment.”
Rex: A touch of personal service
Rex (Regional Express), the only airline to fly to several regional destinations, scored the highest for in-flight service. Many members praise its old-fashioned, personalised service. “Rex is the smallest airline but the best,” says CHOICE member Cathy. “The in-flight crew are always courteous; they give you a cuppa and a muffin, and a mint just before you land, plus they’ll ring a taxi for you – and they always say goodbye as you leave the plane.”