Exactly 10 years since the low-cost airline link between Australia and the UK was scrapped, the route is back and due to take off in the coming weeks.
Singapore-based low-cost carrier Scoot is reconnecting Australia and the UK from mid-December for the holiday season, with the route to become permanent from March.
It marks the first time a low-cost carrier has provided a service between the two countries since Scoot’s rival AirAsia dumped its London service in January 2012.
From December 16 to 29, Scoot is offering fares from $489 one way from Sydney and Melbourne to London, and from $999 in the ScootPlus premium cabin. A Qantas trip during the same period starts from $2643 return.
Which is where the difference needs to be noted. Aussie passengers will be able to get to London for a value price, but a Scoot trip will be something of an adventure.
Flying Scoot from Sydney and Melbourne involves a first stop in Singapore, followed by an 8 – 11 hour layover. A second flight will then stop at Bangkok, followed by a one hour layover. A third flight will then travel the 13 hours from Bangkok to London’s Gatwick airport.
In total, the trip will take just over 33 hours. The return trip will take almost 36 hours, including an even longer Singapore layover.
For the traveller who likes a budget deal and who considers the destination more important than the journey, this Scoot offering puts new focus on low cost long-haul journeys.
But like any low-cost bargain airfare, knowing what’s included, and at this time of Covid travelling, knowing what’s involved is an essential to make the trip a smooth one – if not necessarily faster.
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Table of Contents
As there are two transit stops along the way to the UK, three different set of rules must be considered.
Scoot uses the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) service to Singapore from Australia, which allows quarantine-free travel for travellers who are fully Covid-19 vaccinated, hold a vaccination certificate in English, have undertaken a pre-departure Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, obtained a negative result 48 hours prior to the flight, and meet the entry requirements of their final destination country.
In Bangkok, passengers must not leave the transiting area and must have a certificate showing a negative PCR test result.
The UK currently doesn’t require a pre-departure Covid-19 test if you are fully vaccinated, but you must supply a vaccination certificate, a passenger locator form and undergo a Covid test on or before two days of arrival.
Due to the ever-changing landscape of world travel, Scoot does allow one free date change per itinerary.
Scoot offers three cabins, with Economy seats the same dimensions as Qantas – 78.7cm pitch and 45.7cm width. There’s also a in Scoot-in-Silence section, with the same seats, but where babies and children are not allowed.
At the front is ScootPlus – a low-cost version of Premium Economy, with leather seats of 56cm width, 96cm legroom and 15cm recline. For the long-haul trip, these will be in hot demand and an onboard upgrade can sometimes be snared for $150AUD.
In the cabin
A Care Kit, consisting of anti-bacterial wipes, sanitiser and a mask, is on every seat, and it’s mandatory a mask is worn throughout the trip, except during meals. Movement around the cabin is discouraged except for using the toilets, which are disinfected every hour.
The airline also uses High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) air filters which changes cabin air every three minutes. Wherever possible, space between passengers will be maximised. And remember this is low-cost travel, so if you want it – like a pillow or a blanket – you pay for it.
Scoot, along with its parent company Singapore Airlines, boasts over 90 per cent of crews are fully vaccinated. Being a low-coast carrier, engagement with the crew on Scoot has always been limited but is even more so now.
So aside from boarding, meal and drinks services, and toilet cleaning, don’t expect to see them venture out of the galley often.
Dishing it up
Booking meals in advance is recommended as choices can run out, but onboard, passengers can use the ScootHub QR code to access the menu and pay for meals and drinks. The menu runs the gamut from snacks like wraps through to hot meals, including new items like Laksa and Veggie Korma.
Scoot does not allow outside food to be consumed onboard but recommends bringing your own water as it’s not supplied free. And remember to have a credit card as debit cards are not accepted.
Upload a range of movie and TV shows on your own device before flying as Scoot did away with screen entertainment years ago, but Wi-Fi is available, commencing from $7AUD for 20MB and passengers in ScootPlus have 30MB included.
And be sure to pack a good book as Scoot no longer publishes an in-flight magazine.
In the bag
Passengers with tickets on a single booking to London can check their luggage all the way to Gatwick. Economy passengers are allowed two cabin bags with a total weight of 10kg and checked baggage costs from $125 for 20kg one way.
Booking baggage online in advance is up to 30 per cent cheaper than doing so at the airport. ScootPlus passengers are allowed 30kg of checked baggage plus 15kg of cabin baggage.
At Singapore’s Changi Airport, transit passengers have to remain within a designated zone while waiting for the connecting flight and can book into an airside transit hotel for the duration of the layover.
In Bangkok, the layover is an hour, and it’s being determined if passengers will remain onboard or be allowed into a secure holding area.
The other end
Remember you’re landing at Gatwick, which is further from London than Heathrow, but being a smaller airport, I prefer Gatwick as it’s easier to get through. A ticket on the Gatwick Express train to the city starts from $33 one way and takes 30 minutes, or a taxi will cost about $160 and takes 50 minutes.
With the two transit stops, as well as strict Australia quarantine laws, it’s worth checking out the Scoot website as well as www.smartraveller.gov.au for any updates about flying in the days before heading to Gatwick for the flight home.
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