Nina Karnikowski finds the seats squeezy and the crew perky on Scoot's inaugural flight to Singapore.
When I hear that Scoot's maiden flight from Singapore to Sydney is landing one hour late due to a combination of a mechanical fault and a medical emergency, I can't help but hope the new low-cost airline's chief executive, Campbell Wilson, isn't superstitious.
I am, and a series of unfortunate events like these - especially at airports - make me nervous.
Luckily, after a speedy check-in at a desk decorated with bunches of balloons and swathes of bunting in the airline's signature bright yellow, where passengers watch dancers, munch on freebie snacks and listen to a few official launch speeches, we manage to board and depart on time.
Stepping onto the Boeing 777-200 named Goin' Scootin' (not the airline's choice of name, mind you, but the result of a Facebook competition), a refurbished hand-me-down from Scoot's parent Singapore Airlines, I breathe a sigh of relief. Having experienced my fair share of claustrophobic moments on budget airlines, the swooping, high ceilings are a welcome sight.
They're so high, in fact, that a female crew member attempting to close the spacious overhead lockers has to stand on her tiptoes to reach them.
I'm in 42G, the right-hand-side aisle seat of the middle section in economy, and am delighted to discover that like most in the middle section, I have a spare seat beside me. This certainly helps when regular blue seats are a squeezy 17 inches wide, but I'm pleasantly surprised by the legroom thanks to a generous 31-inch pitch.
For $24 extra, you can get a 32- to 35-inch pitch in Scoot's bright yellow "Super" seats.
Scoot has done away with baby bassinets on its bulkhead rows, probably because those have become the $79 yellow s-t-r-e-t-c-h seats, meaning babies are scattered throughout the cabin. I'm lucky enough to have one with a penchant for kicking the seat in front of it placed directly behind me.
About 90 minutes after take-off, complimentary sparkling is served to passengers to celebrate the inaugural flight.
An hour later at 3.30pm - just when I'm considering whether a dash of salt might make my chair arm palatable - the lunch trolley arrives. I'd decided on an Indian chicken and rice dish, one of four hot meal options on the menu, but because I've pre-ordered a meal with my "FlyBagEat" ticket (which also comes with 15 kilograms of checked luggage), it's a choice of chicken with noodles or lamb stew with mash. I order the latter and it's good, although quite small. Thank goodness for the peaches in apple juice that accompany it. And for the snacks I buy an hour later when I'm still hungry: cheese and crackers and a small packet of Pringles, $3 each.
After lunch, I get my hands on an iPad 2. You can rent these for $17 and they come pre-loaded with a small selection of films (about 20), TV shows, great music and games. I watch Joel Edgerton in Wish You Were Here, sneak in an episode of Gossip Girl, then listen to the Black Keys's El Camino.
I fit a kip in there somewhere and give myself a high five for remembering my travel pillow.
BYO pillow is advisable - since there are no head rests on the seats, you'll otherwise have to pay $8 for a pillow and eye mask set (blankets are also for rent for $9).
By mid-afternoon I'm desperate for water ($3 for a 330 millilitre bottle of Evian, no free cups of water offered) but multiple presses of the buzzer get me nowhere. There's incessant
bing-ing throughout the flight and I'm later told that because the buzzers are positioned quite low, passengers are accidentally bumping them with their hips, probably leading crew to assume all calls are false alarms. When I do get served, however, it's certainly with a good dose of "Scootitude".
There's been a lot of talk of said "Scootitude", the word Scoot uses to describe the fuss-free and fun attitude it hopes to portray. It's there in the cabin crew's relaxed uniforms: black, V-neck T-shirts with a swipe of bright yellow down the side for guys, and the same design in a T-shirt dress for girls. And it's certainly there when, towards the end of the flight, the crew run a perky pop quiz on the airline: "Name one destination Scoot flies to other than Singapore and Sydney?", "What is Scoot's tagline and website?", distributing mugs and T-shirts from the Singaporean TV comedy series, The Noose, as prizes.
We then have a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment when the crew ask everyone to check their seat pockets for a golden (OK, yellow) ticket, which scores one lucky traveller a return ticket from Sydney to Singapore, plus $750 worth of accommodation.
Just before our descent, there's an announcement: the crew realise the service wasn't completely up to scratch because it was the first flight, but they're working on it.
Combine honesty like that with free choc-chip muffins and more champagne, plus a flight cost of about $450 low-season return, and you've got a plane full of people who, like me, are willing to compromise between cash and comfort.
The writer flew courtesy of Scoot.
How it compares
Approximate cost to Singapore
Destinations from Sydney
Scoot Three: Bangkok, Singapore, Tianjin. Will be adding Tokyo and Taipei in October.
AirAsiaX 15: Indonesia, five; Malaysia, five; Japan, Osaka; Singapore; Thailand, Bangkok and Phuket; Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City.
Jetstar 18: Cambodia, Phnom Penh; China, Hangzhou; Fiji, Nadi; Indonesia, three; Japan, Osaka and Tokyo; Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur; New Zealand, three; Philippines, Manila; Singapore; Thailand, Bangkok and Phuket; US, Honolulu; Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City.
Flight frequency to Singapore
Scoot Once daily, direct.
AirAsiaX Four times daily, transfer in Kuala Lumpur.
Jetstar Four or five times daily, one or two stopovers.