Scooting from Gold Coast to Taipei

While I'm no novice to budget airlines, I like my comforts just like the next person, so let's find out what the experience is actually like when you fly on the cheap, long haul. Is it worth sacrificing a few comforts to save some dollars?

Scoot airlines have just celebrated their first birthday in Australia. They fly to ten cities including Singapore, Sydney, Gold Coast, Bangkok, Tokyo, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenyang, Nanjing, Seoul and Taipei. I am test driving their Gold Coast -Singapore -Taipei route.

Scoot General Manager Daren Wright is a friendly face at the airport as we check in. He tells me that they have 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft on order, due to arrive in 2014. Darren’s a man who has it made. As Scoot Australia’s only full time employee (ground and flight crew are all contract workers) he works from his home, a property in Northern New South Wales. Rather than some dreary office view, his desk overlooks acreage and farm animals. Good one Darren!

First issue is Scoot only leaves from the Gold Coast and I'm in Brisbane, about an hour a way.  This is solved by my very helpful partner who says he can work in the Gold Coast office that day and rises at 5am to drive me to the airport.  (You are a wonderful person K2! x)

The Gold Coast airport is small in comparison to Brisbane and it's easy to find my way around, though not much in the way of duty free shopping.

My travelling companions.  Note the space between seats - very comfy!

Checking in and boarding the aircraft don't seem very different except I notice there are some smart systems the staff use to ensure everyone moves swiftly and efficiently to the plane. No air-bridge here, it's climb a set of stairs but that isn't hard. Just as well I kept my cabin luggage light. No problems as I have 20 kilos of check-in luggage.

I'm sitting in Scoot Biz which is in the pointy end. I've got more than enough leg and seat room. As instructed on my e-ticket I downloaded the free Scoot TV app before I left home (you can't do this in flight). It also comes with a free code to access the in flight wi-fi which costs $16SGD. The selection is somewhat limited but I've found a few to watch.

Lunch was a mixed bag with an okay salad and a surprisingly good square bit of cake but also a meat pie that was not so good. On another flight I have a mushroom fritatta and a chicken dish (at least I thought it was chicken). Other meal choices are more Asian in origin and it seems strange to be eating fish for breakfast at 2am in the morning.

There's really little choice as Scoot does not allow you to bring your own meals onboard. Having suffered through the smells of other’s food on different flights, I can understand why. Balancing the food against the price and other benefits, I would still recommend Scoot. My best tip is to don't board starving, and make sure there are a few snacks in your bag. (Don't forget to throw or declare them when landing.)

My reclining seat is certainly comfortable and there's a foot rest as well. It's not bad for an “upright” nap. Bonus - the toilets are always clean.

I like the sound of some of Scoot’s Singapore options, and would so even more so if I was on the final leg of a long flight. Scoot-Thru offers passengers with connecting flights at Singapore's Changi Airport to continue their journey without having to pass through immigration, no having to collect their luggage during transit. Also if a delay causes you to miss your onward flight, Scoot will make sure you are booked on the next Scoot or partner airline flight without rebooking fees. There is still a queue at the Scoot-Thru desk but not having to negotiate customs or hassle with my bags is great.

Scootinstyle is a package of premium privileges for $39 which gets you four hours in the SATS Premiere Lounge before take-off, express service when you check-in and the chance to be first on board. Depending on the length and stage of your journey, these could either be treats or life savers.

When I arrive back at the Gold Coast after a Taipei - Singapore - Gold Coast connection, Gold Coast airport is super easy and quick to get through and Customs are friendly and helpful.  I board a bus which brings me back to Brisbane for under $40.

Check out the fares but you can probably travel with a little luxury and comfort in Scoot Biz for about the same price as an economy flight on other airlines. It's worth the money.

Bottom line: compare the fares and the extras when evaluating airfare costs
Best tip: eat up before you fly.

More information:

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled to Singapore and Taiwan courtesy of Scoot Airlines and Tourism Taiwan.