PLANNING a vacation to a far-flung place like Thailand requires a little (or a lot) of saving for many.
But no-frills Scoot airline is hoping to change that with the launch of a new cheap route from Gatwick to Bangkok, with seats from just £212 each way.
The Singapore airline’s fundamental approach means customers pay a bargain price for the flight only, with no in-flight entertainment, meals or beverages included in the ticket price.
Although you can spend a little more money with extras like blankets or wifi to make your trip a little more comfortable.
And those who fancy a hop on the 13-hour flight from London to Thailand can even upgrade their ticket to a seat in the child-free Scoot in Silence zone, located near the front of the plane with One-Way – Fares are from £256pp
These seats promise a child-free oasis for adults in an “exclusive and quiet cabin.” But is it worth the extra £44 each way?
I flew from Gatwick to Bangkok on the inaugural flight last week to find out.
Much like Ryanair and easyJet, everything is very brand compliant scoot.
Headrests, ceilings and even the aircraft’s exterior are all painted Scoot’s bright yellow.
It reminded me a bit of the famous McDonald’s logo – so can this budget airline do for flights what McDonald’s did for burgers?
The plane itself, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, is a relatively old model, but everything inside feels new, with color-changing lights glowing above the luggage compartment and reading light buttons on the armrests.
I had received fast boarding with my Scoot in Silence seat, another decent perk for spending that extra cash.
However, the main reason it’s so appealing to a solo traveler like me is that passengers must be at least 12 years old to sit in this cabin – strategically placed in front of Economy and behind ScootPlus, the equivalent of the budget airline’s Business Class, with leather seats, more legroom and free power.
But is it even possible to make an area “child-free” if only a thin curtain separates the zones?
If you’re sitting in the back row and a child is crying a meter behind you, this puny curtain will help you sleep.
Scoot in Silence isn’t particularly fancy – you get the same seat and treatment as everyone else in economy class, save for expedited boarding.
But the pros are, with just 33 seats (as opposed to the 278 in economy class) it feels more luxurious.
And on the first flight it seemed most passengers wanted to skimp and save where they could, which meant I had a whole bunch of three to snooze for.
However, that’s not so easy when you’ve just downed a spicy curry before settling down.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served around an hour after take-off and cost an additional £9 for a hot meal with dessert, all from the same menu whether it’s 9am or 9pm.
Meatless dishes are only available in one level of spiciness and it is hot, so for vegetarians it is either the same or the same.
Luckily I don’t mind a bit of seasoning and my veggie dahl with rice was flavorful and had lots of chunky veggies in it.
Meat eaters have more choices with seafood and pork fried rice or chicken curries.
Make sure you fill up before your flight though, as a small meal accompanied by a chocolate chip cookie dessert wasn’t enough to keep my tummy happy (or full) for the nearly 14 hours in the air.
And the airline states that “outside consumption of food and drink is not permitted on board Scoot,” meaning you can’t bring your own snacks either.
So it’s pay or starve.
Unfortunately I got on the plane at 9:30pm when only Wetherspoons was open at Gatwick airport so that meant no dinner before dinner for me either.
Perhaps this explains why one passenger was so drunk that he pushed his way to the front of the plane right after takeoff and slandered the request for a business class seat.
However, I must give credit to the crew as this agitated passenger was dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Rather annoyingly, the real flaws are in the technology, and that’s not specific to the Scoot in Silence zone either.
The only way to order a drink, in any cabin, is via a QR code, on the back of the seats, it doesn’t work.
Even though I entered my seat number on the order form and asked someone where my order was (after not showing up for 30 minutes) they somehow still couldn’t find me…
My overly brewed tea had been going up and down the aisles several times by this point.
But I suppose with a budget airline like Scoot you get what you pay for – unless you don’t because my prepaid wifi package didn’t work.
After an hour of fiddling, I gave up and went to sleep.
It wasn’t until I woke up mid-flight while everyone else was dozing that I managed to make some connection.
So for the ultra-low price of £212 per person, I’d like to say that Scoot really is great value for money and that their Scoot in Silence zone is an absolute stroke of genius – but it’s not.
If you’re tight on cash and want as much budget as possible then you’ll be happy as long as you don’t expect the same experience you get on other airlines and remember to pack plenty of books or a tablet to keep you entertained.
The flights are amazingly cheap compared to what else is out there and for the money spent the service feels about the same – although there should be more garbage collection as my seat was overflowing with empty packages than that Crew their one done garbage pickup.
Definitely worth spending that extra £44 to avoid having little feet stepping on the back of the seat for a full 13 hours.
Everyone else in this zone appeared to be single travelers or couples, all being respectful of those around them.
And I think what you save on the trip you can splash on treats when you get there.
But unfortunately, Scoot’s yellow banners still have a long way to go to reach the same status as Maccie’s golden arches.
Speaking of which, is it time for a Big Mac? I’m starving.
https://www.thesun.ie/travel/8577130/budget-airline-scoot-children-banned/ Within the low-cost airline zone where children are PROHIBITED