Are low cost airlines as bad as people think?
I’d be lying if I said that the thought of flying with budget airlines didn’t fill me with apprehension, especially those with questionable names, such as the Hungarian-owned Wizz Air. However, following my recent experience flying from Singapore to Melbourne with Scoot, I may have to adjust this mindset.
Having left Australia without a return journey booked, I found myself desperately seeking, with rather specific criteria, a way home from Singapore. Oh, and this was only a week before I was hoping to be back on Australian soil. When the Skyscanner search revealed Scoot to be my best option – offering a direct flight on my preferred date and at a suitable time – I was forced to face my budget airline preconceptions. The fact Scoot is owned by the reputable Singapore Airlines did reassure me.
But the decisive factor for me was the cost – I paid $760 for the one-way flight (Changi Airport to Tullamarine), including opt-ins for 20kg of checked luggage and one hot meal (an extra $16). To put it in context, Jetstar was the second most affordable option, at over $1000. While I find Skyscanner a wonderful way to sniff out airfare alternatives, I usually prefer to then book directly through the specific airline’s website. Booking online at www.flyscoot.com was straightforward with an immediate email confirmation.
Arriving at Terminal 2, Changi Airport, three hours before the flight was due to take-off, I was dismayed, but unsurprised, to see a seemingly endless queue snaking around and out of Scoot’s check-in counters.
There goes my time browsing duty-free goodies, I thought. Thankfully, the ridiculously long line was for a flight to Qingdao, China, and the queue for the Melbourne flight was much shorter, though moving at the same snail-like pace. But – aha – as I’d already checked in online and printed my boarding pass, I got to head straight to the Web Check-In counter, bypassing the queues.
I found Scoot’s staff faultless from Singapore to Melbourne: polite, friendly and efficient service was provided at check-in, the departure gate and by the entire cabin crew. A special mention must go to the flight attendant who hastened to double-check that I’d received the blanket I purchased onboard, and then, upon noticing I was disembarking sans yellow blanket, kindly suggested I retrieve it from my seat so I could keep it for next time.
The plane itself was one of the newer, cleaner and more spacious I have experienced. Top marks must be awarded for the overhead lockers being located much higher than on the average aircraft, allowing one to stand without fear of ending up with a bump on the head. That said, the lack of any headrest, in-flight entertainment or complimentary snacks or drinks does remind you that Scoot is a no-frills airline. Having paid $16 extra for a hot meal, I would save that money next time. After all, we really only need the bare necessities for a seven-hour flight that departs shortly after midnight.
I was thoroughly impressed, and pleasantly surprised, by Scoot. As far as budget airlines go, I think they could be a cut above many others. And it seems I’m not alone in my opinion, as the lack of empty seats on my flight attests!
Lucy Fallick travelled at her own expense in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
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