Singapore's newest airline has taken off amid much fanfare Kate Wick was there for the inaugural Sydney to Singapore flight to bring you the inside scoop on Scoot.
Scoot is Singapore's new "no-frills" long-haul carrier, the latest competitor to join the booming low-cost airline industry, meaning good news for us lower prices. Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather is confident that Scoot's new daily service "will inject about $146 million into the economy every year".
In direct competition with Jetstar, Virgin Australia and AirAsia, Scoot will provide flights to Australia, Singapore, Thailand and China and in October will roll out flights to Taipei and Tokyo.
Standing in Sydney International Airport, there is a buzz of anticipation in the air. Scoot's signature yellow is everywhere, media crews are setting up, and excited travellers queue the check-in lines.
Awaiting the arrival of Scoot's first flight from Singapore so we can make the inaugural journey there, we are informed there are delays due to a medical emergency, the pilot having to turn the flight around just before take-off for a passenger suffering from food poisoning. Rarely do new launches go without a hiccup but this certainty wouldn't have been the outcome New Zealand-born CEO Campbell Wilson would have been hoping for.
Landing slightly behind schedule, Scoot's Boeing 777, named "Goin' Scootin", disembarked with an impressive 400 passengers, Wilson among them.
I was secretly disappointed to find out we would not be flying on Scoot's other Boeing, Barry, or "Bazza" as Wilson affectionately calls it. Named by a Facebook competition winner, I thought it would have been quite fitting to depart Sydney on such an Aussie sounding airplane.
Stepping onto flight TK1, we are met by enthusiastic Scoot crew, dressed in svelte, black knee-length dresses with funky one-sided "Scoot yellow" side panels. Walking through the cabin, I notice the colour-divided seat sections.
Up front, the ScootBiz business class seats are slick-grey leather with an eight-inch (20cm) recline.
The standard economy seats are blue and the "S-t-r-e-t-c-h" seats yellow, which are four inches (10cms) larger in pitch (the distance from seat to seat) than the 31-inch (78cm) standard seats. It's a much roomier experience than you'd expect; Jetstar's maximum seat pitch of 31 inches is Scoot's starting standard pitch.
The S-t-r-e-t-c-h seats, which come at an extra cost, are conveniently positioned in the first few rows of economy.
Crossing my stocking-clad legs comfortably, I'm happy with the space between me and the chair in front in my economy seat. Being packed in like sardines for long durations can be unbearable at times, so Scoot has done well to make this 10-seat wide area feel spacious. The only downside for comfort is there are no headrests, so make sure you sit next to someone with big shoulders.
Economy seats on Scoot.
S-t-r-e-t-c-h seats: Nice and roomy.
ScootBiz: The Business class offering.
The aircraft's notably higher ceilings add to the feeling of roominess in the cabin, with some flight attendants even struggling to reach the overhead compartments. That's another big green tick for Scoot: the compartments themselves are noticeably bigger; I found plenty of room for all my carry-on items.
Despite the medical emergency and short turnaround time, Scoot still manage to get us off the ground only 15 minutes behind the initial departure time. The crew supervisor announces over the PA, "Cabin crew cross check doors, it's showtime!"
The in-flight entertainment system is an up-to-date novelty: a portable iPad 2. Gone are the days of total system resets, where every screen has to be rebooted when there is a problem with the in-flight services (none of Scoot's chairs contain screens).
Collecting my iPad 2, I easily navigate my way around the touchscreen, selecting from a fairly limited menu of movies, TV shows, music and games. The games will be an absolute hit with the kids; the iPad 2 literally acts as a steering wheel when playing the Shrek Kart game. The only limiting factor is the stand attached to the iPad you have to keep your meal tray down to prop it up on or physically hold it, making it less comfortable when kicking back to watch a movie.
Only slightly distracted by the iPad, nothing could put my grumbling tummy at bay and after two hours in the air, I have still not seen a meal tray. This is unusual, as food is usually rolled out within half an hour of take-off.
I look over the food menu, which offers four main meals of lasagna, soya sauce chicken rice, creamy chicken stew and a spicy Indian chicken and rice dish, nasi biryani. They also offer reasonably priced combo meals that come with a choice beverage and snack. You can purchase a number of snacks and alcoholic beverages separately starting at AUD$5.50 and AUD$2.35 for Pringles.
The Ben & Jerry ice creams are an unexpected treat. As I had pre-purchased food, I am instead offered a choice of chicken or lamb. Choosing the chicken noodle dish, I'm extremely happy with the taste and freshness of the food, but disappointed by the size. I ordered another two snacks to fill me up, but it's a challenge to get the flight attendants' attention./p>
Wilson is quick to accept that there are a few things to iron out on the first few flights as crew get used to the new aircraft, and says that they will be sorted out in no time, and you know what, I believe him. The few problems we encountered on the way over ended up being addressed and fixed for our return flight.
There is nothing wrong with giving customers plenty of options but sometimes offering too many "frills" and add-ons, can make us feel a little overwhelmed. Scoot's website is refreshingly easy to navigate, and their bundle packs make booking a breeze.
The result of these types of packs is that everyone's flight experience is different according to their desired wants and needs. If you're on a budget, then choose "Fly" (starts from $158, one-way), an extremely competitive flights-only option. If you know your holiday will involve lots of shopping in Singapore, then select the "FlyBag" (starts from $180) option, and if you can't wait to get to Singapore to try the cuisine, then opting for the "FlyBagEat" (starts from $193) might be the way to go.
Sure it may annoy you that you have to pay extra for snacks or water, but if you are saving more than 40 percent off your flight compared to full-service long-haul carriers, as Scoot promises you will, then it's a small price to pay to cater to your individual in-flight needs.
Despite some flaws, this charming new airline will be doing its best to live up to the stellar reputation of its big brother, Singapore Airlines. Flights leave daily from Sydney to Singapore, and five flights per week out of the Gold Coast. There are still some one-way flights available starting from $179, but be quick as they sell out fast.
Prices are valid as of June 13, 2012.
The writer travelled as a guest of Scoot.