Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tiger Airways

I took Tiger from Hong Kong to Singapore this evening. My first impressions weren't great: check-in was at 4:30 for a 6:30 flight, and I got there at 4:40 to see an entirely stationary queue. It started moving around 5, and I was actually checked in reasonably quickly, but that wasn't a good start.

The guy on the desk told me no liquids in carry-on: I was worried this was a 9-11 anniversary special, but I went through security with my usual selection of sub-100ml unguents without a problem. Was he a wind-up merchant? Who knows?

Because they're a cheap airline, Tiger's gate was at the far end of the airport. At least they're not as cheap as Jetstar (a gate hidden down a flight of stairs, round the back of the toilets and then a bus to the plane because they're not paying for an air bridge). But having got there with 45 minutes to spare, and there being no plane at 6:15, I was sceptical about their commitment to punctuality.

Because we're in Asia and everyone is apparently a moron, even though seats are already assigned everyone queues up immediately at the gate, as if they might be missed off otherwise. Not wishing to miss the fun I joined in. The woman behind me jostled me once, and I thought about telling her to go combine sex and travel somewhere, but relented to my better judgment. When the flight did begin to board, it turned out Tiger are too cheap to pay for the barcode scanners everyone else uses as the gate. That seemed a bit ... odd.

The woman behind me then tried to push through me to hand her ticket to the gate staff. Being made of sterner stuff, I made myself as wide as I could and stomped off down to the plane, admitting of no overtaking, and then jammed myself into seat 2F.

Perhaps sitting up front wasn't such a good choice, as I got a good strong whiff of the toilets. I don't think it's asking too much to have a plane that doesn't smell of urine. We stayed sat on the ground for half an hour, until the excuse (air traffic control and bad weather) was announced, and then a few minutes later we pushed back and took off.

However, we were flying much lower than usual (27,000 feet rather than 38,000) to avoid other planes, so although I had a lovely view of Disneyland and small boats as we flew out, we went straight into a thunderstorm. The plane was struck by lightning twice, and although the Faraday cage is a wonder of electromagnetism and whatnot, the cabin began to be permeated by a smell of burning. At least you couldn't smell stale piss any more.

Apart from that and the turbulence for all the flight, things went without a hitch. When we touched down, somebody sprinted forth from the back and tried to get in front of me, but with the aggressive "excuse me" honed from years of travel and having paid for a seat at the front, I body checked him with a Samsonite suitcase and legged it out. Fourth off the plane, first one to Customs, straight into a taxi and into the hotel room within 30 minutes. Efficient, if nothing else.

Thankfully, the hotel room doesn't smell of any bodily fluids. I was scared that might be a leitmotif of the trip.


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