January 2018 | Dios Kurniawan
Last month during holiday season I decided to try Scoot, a budget airline subsidiary of Singapore Airlines. I have long heard a lot about this low-cost carrier but never had the chance to try it out. Scoot flies long-haul routes to Japan, China, Australia, even to Europe, and just recently transitioned to brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. I took the plunge and booked for a one-way trip to Sydney for a family holiday.
I bought five tickets (3 adults, 2 children) from Traveloka.com to take advantage of payment in Rupiah currency. Just like other no-frills carriers, there was no checked baggage allowance in the standard airfare, so I immediately purchased add-on 2x 25kg luggage allowance. Scoot also offers customers to buy seat upgrade for more legroom, which I did. I paid 15.5 million Rupiah in total, that’s approximately US$220 per person. Pretty good deal. If I had chosen to fly with Garuda Indonesia or Qantas, it would have cost me twice as much.
The caveat: it is not a direct flight, the trip requires a transfer at Changi Airport.
The itinerary says the first leg will be CGK-SIN departing at 8 PM on a single aisle Airbus A320, take a 3-hour layover at Changi Airport and then embark on a Boeing 787-9 at 1 AM for Sydney. The flight should arrive in the destination at around noon. Total journey: 12+ hours. Almost double as opposed to direct flights which normally take 7 hours. Not really convenient, but for saving lots of money I think I can live with that. This is a holiday trip anyway.
Because of terrible traffic, we arrived at Soekarno-Hatta Airport just a few minutes before the check-in counter was about to close. There was no self-service kiosk, thus check-in process was done manually. Our luggage was checked-in too, and tagged for Sydney. Our bags would be taken care of during our transit in Singapore. Good.
The first leg to Singapore is served by an Airbus A320.
Food crumbs on the seat (photo: Dios K)
Boarding started on time, but when we finally found our seats (at the back of the plane, as always), we were welcome by food crumbs and scraps of other matter. It seemed as if the plane was not cleaned at all from the previous inbound flight from Singapore. How filthy.
The flight to Singapore itself was on-time. During the flight, I killed the time by reading and watching movies on my tablet. This is a budget carrier so no food is served, of course. Not much a problem because we are not hungry.
Our A320 landed in Changi at around 10 PM. We did not mind spending 2 hours in Changi Airport, considered as one of the world’s best airports. There were just a lot of things to do there. Food was good and plentiful, too.
Shortly after midnight, we headed down to the designated gate for our flight to Sydney. The gate area was fully packed with other passengers, more than 300 of them perhaps. According to Seatguru.com, Scoot configured its 787-9s for 340 economy and 35 business seats. By looking at the crowded waiting room, I guess all seats for tonight’s flight would be fully occupied.
Waiting rrom is crowded (photo: Dios K)
When we boarded the Dreamliner, we were greeted by bright yellow interior lighting. Not a really nice touch especially it’s in the middle of the night, I prefer something more soothing to the eyes.
The Dreamliner (photo: Dios K)
Seats are surprisingly quite comfortable. Seat width is just right, legroom is abundant. Unlike the first flight from Jakarta, this aircraft is in a much cleaner state, too.
Leg room is just fine (photo: Dios K)
This last leg to Sydney would take 8 hours. You just have to figure out what you will do without in-flight entertainment during such a long flight. There is no TV monitor in front of me. Just plain plastic.
I tried to look at the menu provided in the seat pocket. While the food looked tempting – especially the Nasi Lemak – but the $12 price simply turned me down. Too expensive! Besides I have already grabbed some McDonald’s while at Changi. Scoot officially prohibits outside food to be consumed onboard, but luckily that night the flight attendants did not seem to enforce the policy.
Menu is tempting but the price is not (photo: Dios K)
However, for a long flight such as this, there is no way we can survive without water. I filled up my water bottle in the terminal before boarding but that was not enough for the whole family. So during the flight I purchased a small bottle of mineral water, which cost me S$4. That’s a rip-off! But well, I had no choice.
There was no in-flight entertainment except onboard Wi-Fi which was offerred at exorbitant prices: $18 for 100MB. No way Hose! I ended up watching movies stored in my laptop and then sleeping for the rest of the flight. Oh yes, Scoot does not provide blanket but I have prepared mine in my backpack. No pillows either.
The flight was smooth, weather was good and my kids slept pretty well. I suppose the lower altitude setting of cabin pressure in Dreamliner was playing a significant role in making the journey more pleasant. Unlike any other red-eye flight I have ever experienced, this time I felt much more fresh.
Arrival at Sydney Airport (photo: Dios K)
We landed in Sydney at noon and the deboarding process was swift. We had no problem collecting our luggage in the terminal.
Scoot is an interesting option for travelling to Australia if you are on a budget and you don’t mind the much longer journey time. The first leg from Jakarta was less satisfactory because of the dirty seats, but other than that we were quite happy with our experience. Will I fly with Scoot again? Certainly. The service is not bad, Dreamliner planes are comfortable and most importantly I can keep my wallet happy.