Last week, I managed to try Scoot’s premium ScootBiz product on one of its all-Dreamliner fleet while flying to Amritsar in India. The airline had expanded its network last year to cover more destinations in the subcontinent, including Amritsar which it is currently serving as a monopoly.
In some respects, Scoot is not your typical low-cost carrier (LCC). There is not a single narrow body plane in its fleet and as of this writing, it is the only Singapore-based LCC with a premium cabin. This is not to say that you can fly business class on Scoot. Think of ScootBiz as something more similar to premium economy, with slightly bigger seats and a few extras compared to other budget carriers.
These “little” extras were evident from the moment I arrived at Changi Airport for check-in formalities. I had already checked in online but had to queue in order to get a boarding pass. ScootBiz passengers get a dedicated counter. This was especially convenient as the regular Scoot passengers share the same queue as Tigerair and I could see that the wait was quite long. Before being handed my boarding pass, the ground staff politely reminded me that I could check in up to 30kg of luggage for ScootBiz flights. However, I deliberately did not check-in anything knowing how long it takes for bags to come out upon arriving in India.
It is also entirely possible for both ScootBiz and regular passengers to check-in via one of the terminals in order to avoid the lines.
Part of the ScootBiz proposition is the ability to board the plane first. While this is normally not a marked convenience for me, I appreciated the fact that I did not have to go through the bottleneck that normally forms at the aerobridge during the boarding process.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner accommodates 35 ScootBiz seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. My seat for the flight was 1A but the ScootBiz cabin was only around 20% full and I switched my seat a couple of times during the flight due to my tendency to get restless during long journeys (please do not judge me).
Except for the black leather upholstery, the ScootBiz seats remind me a bit of the old school reclining business class seats that you can find in 2 of Singapore Airlines’ 777-200 business class. It’s not exactly the most luxurious one out there but it works for the price the airline is charging.
The seats come with a 38″ seat pitch, width of 22″, 8″ of recline and adjustable legrest and headrest – a marked improvement compared to the 31″ seat pitch and 18″ width at economy.
Upon boarding, a member of the crew approached me to confirm my meal choice for the flight and to serve me my welcome drink which essentially consisted of a cup of mineral water.
Due to the relatively limited recline, the seat controls are relatively simple – one to control the headrest and another for the legrest. There is also a power outlet on one side of the seat to allow passengers to charge their gadgets or laptops. In Economy, this capability is chargeable.
Scoot segregates its menu into hot meals, light meals and premium meals. ScootBiz passengers can choose the premium meal options free of charge and they get 2 sides along with the main dish. For some reason, I overlooked this and realized I only prebooked one of the hot meals instead. As a result, I was served this pretty modest tray of Braised Chicken with Rice. It came with a bar of Cadbury chocolate and my choice of drinks.
It is usually not mentioned anywhere but water is provided free-of-charge for ScootBiz passengers.
Entertainment on Scoot
The airline’s entertainment system called ScooTV is provided free of charge for ScootBiz passengers and a quick run through at the selection revealed a few movies and TV shows. The list was not extensive and the movies aren’t the newest blockbusters either but are more than enough for a 6 hour flight. There are no in-seat monitors and passengers need to use their own gadgets for streaming.
My attention was actually directed more at the inflight wifi capabilities – an aspect which Scoot does very well. Internet is provided via T-mobile and users have the following options: US$11.95/16.95/21.95 for 1 hour/3 hours/entire flight. There is also a budget US$5 option which packs 20mb of data. Prices are definitely a lot more reasonable than the sister airline, SQ, which charges based on usage.
In terms of price, ScootBiz is comparable to or perhaps only a tad more expensive than economy class in full-service airlines. In exchange for the bigger seat space and more intimate cabin, you only lose out (slightly) on the entertainment at most. Perhaps on the food as well if you’re comparing to SQ economy class. All in all, I find these to be small trade-offs given the extra comfort – practically a necessity for medium haul flights which define the bulk of Scoot’s network anyway. Plus, you do get to fly on a really new wide-body aircraft.