Introduction: Revisiting Tokyo…Twice
Cathay Pacific The Deck Lounge Hong Kong
Japan Airlines 777-200 Business Class Hong Kong to Tokyo
A Tale Of Two Observation Decks: Tokyo Haneda vs. Narita
Hotel Century Southern Tower Tokyo
Scoot 787 ScootBiz Tokyo to Taipei
Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Business Class Taipei to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific A330 Economy Class Hong Kong to Tokyo
Cathay Pacific 777 Economy Class Tokyo to Hong Kong
One of the pet peeves people have in life is that you always want what you can’t have. I think this became true for me when Scoot pulled their 787s out of Hong Kong, instead substituting them for A320neos. While some low-cost airlines such as Malindo still offer a business class cabin to Hong Kong, none of the major low-cost carriers
besides British Airways offer premium cabin service to Hong Kong anymore, which is a bit of a shame.
So when Cathay Pacific failed to open up any direct award space between Tokyo and Hong Kong, I knew that flying Scoot’s fifth-freedom flight between Tokyo Narita and Taipei was on my bucket list. This was my first time flying a premium cabin on a low-cost airline, so admittedly I don’t have too much to compare it to.
Booking Scoot’s 787 ScootPlus
For a few weeks before our scheduled flight date I was checking Scoot’s website to see how they were pricing a one-way flight between Tokyo and Taipei, though they were charging over HK$3,000 for a seat in the cabin (in comparison, EVA was charging similar prices for a flat-bed product on their 787s). One night I saw that the price had dropped to HK$1,200 per seat, so I alerted my mom, since she’d be flying with me on this flight.
My mom preferred waiting for award space to open on a direct flight between Tokyo and Hong Kong, though that never happened. In the meantime the price for this flight had gone up to HK$1,800 for our dates, though we decided to pull the trigger anyway.
My Experience Flying Scoot’s 787 ScootPlus
Excitedly, I got to Tokyo Narita’s Terminal 2 at around 9:30 AM.
Tokyo Narita Airport Terminal 2
Check-in took a while, as the check-in agent had to verify that we were travelling onward to Hong Kong. We’d arranged our Taiwanese visas in advance (they’re done online, and can be approved in seconds), so we had to show them our Taiwanese visas and our HKID cards. Afterwards, we were on our way to Taipei, and dropped by the observation deck before passing through the messy immigration and customs counters (it’s no secret that I find Tokyo Narita vastly inferior to Tokyo Haneda).
Afterwards we passed through the warehouse-like duty free area. I ended up grabbing a curry with my mother since ScootBiz doesn’t come with lounge access, though others might want to check out the rest area in between gates 61-75 and 81-97.
Tokyo Narita Airport Terminal 2 Rest Area
Our plane was parked at the satellite end of Terminal 2, so it was a 15-minute walk from immigration. It was cool to see the banana-like 787 parked in front of the gate, and I was excited for my first experience in a premium cabin on a low-cost carrier!
Scoot Boeing 787 Tokyo Narita Airport
Boarding was done by lane, with ScootBiz passengers and those who’d purchased Scoot-in-Style boarding first. I’d heard terrible things about the boarding process on Scoot, so I was impressed by how orderly it was – passengers filed into more-or-less single-file lines based on the row they were seated in. Despite the gate area being full of people, it didn’t feel chaotic at all. That probably shouldn’t come as a surprise for Japan, but I’ve heard scary things about Scoot’s boarding process, so was impressed by how it played out.
Scoot Boarding Signs Tokyo Narita Airport
Boarding began at 11:25 AM, and I was one of the first onboard Scoot’s 787 Dreamliner. Before getting too far in the review, here’s the video report that I did regarding the flight:
Scoot Flight TR899
Saturday, June 8, 2019
Origin: Tokyo Narita (NRT) Gate: 83 Dep: 12:05 (12:30)
Destination: Taipei (TPE) Gate: B8 Arr: 14:50 (15:10)
Duration: 3 hr 45 min (3 hr 40 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 Reg: 9V-OJH
Seat: 5K (ScootBiz)
I made my way down the jetbridge, where I had a closeup of the aircraft’s fuselage. Today we’d be flying 9V-OJH, which was less than a year old at the time of flying – what a pleasure!
Scoot Boeing 787 Tokyo Narita Airport
The entire aircraft was boarded through door L2, so I found the large 295-seat economy class cabin to my right. While economy class generally looked pretty tight (with 31″ pitch – while that’s actually comparable to most full-service airlines, I was more bugged by the lack of an adjustable headrest), the Super Seats at the front of the cabin actually looked rather comfortable.
Scoot Boeing 787 Economy Class Cabin
Directly to my left was the ScootInSilence cabin, which Scoot advertises as an extra-legroom cabin that’s free of babies. Personally I find that rather stupid, since babies are allowed in ScootBiz (and a thin divider isn’t enough to separate the noise), though it did look like a cosy cabin. While 3-3-3 on a 787 is tight, virtually every airline out there operates 787s in a 3-3-3 configuration these days, so the only thing separating this cabin from most full-service carriers was the lack of a TV screen.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootInSilence Cabin
If you’re on a scenic route (Scoot operates some of these 787s all the way to Sydney and Athens), you’ll want to avoid the first row of the ScootInSilence cabin, as it’s missing a window (and it’s not like you get a ton of extra legroom, since the bulkhead isn’t far from the seat).
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootInSilence Seats Legroom
Walking forward, I made my way into the ScootBiz cabin, which featured 35 recliner seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. I quite liked the yellow accents which spruced up the otherwise boring cabin – it gave the cabin identity.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Cabin
I’d selected seats 5H and 5K for myself and my mother. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer the last row of the cabin when sitting in seats that recline, since I can keep my seat reclined throughout the entirety of the flight.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Seat 5K
This was a recliner seat, so it won’t compete with the latest and greatest business class seats out there. However, this product prices itself as a premium economy product, so from that perspective my seat fired on all cylinders; it was wide, featured a legrest, and had a decent amount of recline, despite being a touch on the harder side.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Seat Reclined
The manual seat controls were positioned on the right armrest.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Seat Controls
Meanwhile, to the left of the seat were the reading light and call button controls. I liked that they were positioned in a way that I wouldn’t accidentally press the button with my elbow.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Seat Call Button
ScootBiz seats feature 38″ of seat pitch, which is comparable to a premium economy seat. Now, while I enjoyed the seat, taller people might struggle with using the legrest, especially with the seat in front reclined. Also, window and middle seat passengers may find it hard to climb past the aisle passenger if the seat in front is reclined, though it was comfortable enough. If you’re used to flying Norwegian’s Premium class, don’t expect a similar amount of legroom, even though the seats are otherwise the same.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Seat Legroom
The seat featured a tray table, which was actually very sturdy (there was a latch that secured the “far” end of the table to the other armrest) and great for working.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Tray Table
Overall, when compared to a premium economy seat, I found ScootBiz very comfortable, and certainly didn’t mind spending 3-4 hours in this seat.
Yours truly, perched happily in ScootBiz
That being said, I’m not calling the seat industry-leading by any means. AirAsia X features lie-flat beds in their premium cabin, and Norwegian’s Premium cabin features 46″ seat pitch (compared to this seat’s 38″). In terms of hard product, Scoot ranks along with Jetstar, Malindo Air and a majority of low-cost airlines with premium cabins as decent, but not industry leading.
The flight attendants were friendly and proactive when we were settling down, and after the door closed we were provided with a “pre-departure beverage”, which was packaged drinking water. The cheaply presented water was juxtaposed against the flight attendant’s greeting, where I was addressed by name (though she read off a roster, and struggled to pronounce my last name – I had no problem with being called Alvin, so she called me that for the rest of the flight). We were welcomed by the inflight manager Elsa, who confirmed our meal orders.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Pre-Departure Beverage
While most 787 operators activate their window dimming capabilities in the air, the window dimming for this plane was activated on the ground (though they were all set to the brightest setting before takeoff and landing).
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Window Dimmed
The cabin soon filled with other passengers, though it wasn’t anywhere near full – we more or less had the row to ourselves except for someone else in 5A, and most of the seats in the center section were also unoccupied.
The crew also activated Scoot’s signature mood lighting, which was an unfortunate yellow – yes, it’s Scoot’s signature colour, though yellow lights in a white airplane cabin give off worn-out-office-y vibes.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Cabin
The captain came onto the PA to give his welcome. He was so enthusiastic – “as you can see out of the window, the weather is quite bad today”. First he announced a ground delay of around 15 minutes, due to ATC orders. I was glad we’d switched our connecting flight to a later A350-1000 flight – we’d already been sitting on the ground for 15 minutes before the captain came onto the PA, so our original flight would’ve had us cutting it a little close. Later, he came onto the PA to apologise for the delay and announce our prospective flight time of 3 hours and 5 minutes.
While we enjoyed some great weather in Tokyo, this wasn’t one of those days, as it was rainy and foggy on the tarmac. We taxied past a Korean Air 777 and an A320 from Far East Russian carrier Aurora (ooh, interesting!).
Traffic Tokyo Narita Airport
There was quite a line for takeoff, so our total taxiing time was around 20 minutes. While it was very foggy, I still managed to spot some cool traffic, including a Star Wars livery ANA 787
Peach Airbus A320 Tokyo Narita Airport
ANA Boeing 787 Tokyo Narita Airport
Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A320 Tokyo Narita Airport
Jetstar Airbus A320 Taking Off Tokyo Narita Airport
I also managed to spot a Korean Air A220, which I haven’t seen in the past.
Korean Air Airbus A220 Tokyo Narita Airport
At around 1 PM we made our way out of Tokyo Narita Airport, where we had good views of the airport in the meantime (unfortunately due to the rain on the windows my camera had a hard time focusing, so we had almost left the airport completely before I could get a good picture).
Views Taking Off out of Tokyo Narita Airport
After takeoff I briefly visited the lavatory, which stayed clean throughout the flight.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Lavatory
One of the things about low-cost flying is that you can customise your own experience by buying add-ons where needed. I knew that Scoot doesn’t provide complimentary amenities, so I pre-ordered a sleeping set online. The crewmembers didn’t bring the kit over until I prompted them, and even then they had to check my boarding pass, and that’s despite the crew otherwise being very competent (more on that later). So don’t expect to receive anything you pre-order unless you explicitly ask for it inflight.
My sleeping set cost HK$98, and came in a plastic bag, with each of the elements also individually wrapped (a huge waste of plastic in my opinion, but…) It featured an eye mask and a blanket, both of which were quite comfortable – despite the blanket being quite thin, it was actually softer and less scratchy than most economy blankets I’ve had, so I actually found it to be quite nice.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Sleeping Kit
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Sleeping Kit Eye Mask
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Sleeping Kit Blanket
Meanwhile the kit also provided an inflatable headrest, which was almost comically uncomfortable. It was very, very scratchy, and also quite tight on the neck (I have quite a thin one). Still, though, HK$98 for a pillow and blanket is worth it on a longhaul flight, and they also had some cool Scoot branding on them.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Sleeping Kit Neck Pillow
In addition, the crew forgot to come around with inflight entertainment access codes, so I had to explicitly ask for them. You need to download the ScooTV app in advance on your chosen device if you want to use Scoot’s entertainment system at all, and it’s not free if you’re seated in economy.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz TV Voucher
The movie selection wasn’t too extensive, and I certainly wouldn’t see the need to purchase it if seated in economy, especially on a flight this short. Still, though, I found this better than nothing.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Entertainment Selection
Scoot doesn’t explicitly tell you that the ScooTV app needs to be downloaded in advance, so if you find yourself in need of some entertainment inflight and haven’t downloaded the app, you’re out of luck unfortunately – unless you decide to purchase the inflight WiFi. While that’s tragic, it’s noteworthy that this applies to most airlines with streaming entertainment. I’ve flown Cathay Dragon’s A320, which features streaming entertainment, and they also require you to download the app in advance without explicit notice.
In addition, I also decided to pre-purchase an 80 MB WiFi package for US$14.99 (it would’ve cost US$16.99 if I’d decided to purchase it onboard). The WiFi wasn’t particularly fast, though definitely usable – it measured 0.53 Mbps up and 0.47 Mbps down, which is on the slow but usable side. Scoot uses Telekom as their WiFi provider, which I generally find to be quite reliable – despite that, I certainly would’ve preferred if they’d charge by time as opposed to usage (since it’s more of an investment, I don’t think any low-cost airlines offer that as of yet, though).
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz WiFi Speed
Before I get into the meal service, I think it’s worth pointing out that all outside food and beverages are prohibited on Scoot. This wasn’t reinforced at all on this flight, though I’ve heard that the rule has been much more strictly enforced on similar flights (on the exact same route, actually).
I actually have a big problem with that. Low-cost flying should be about choice – about deciding whether you want to take cabin baggage or not, whether you need a blanket on the flight or if you can bring your own, whether you’d like the airline to provide you a meal or if you can bring your own, etc.. It’s about unbundling the airline experience and only buying what you need – not about limiting your choice and nickel-and-diming you (on a longhaul flight, this policy is basically a nicer way of saying “buy our food or go hungry”). I watched a video from one of my favourite travel YouTubers, Paul Lucas – his flight was vastly inferior to mine as a whole, from rude cabin crew to a chaotic boarding process, but this is one takeaway from his video that I still agree with after my own experience with Scoot.
Tokyo Narita Airport sells some appealing bento boxes, which I didn’t get to enjoy on this flight due to the above policy. Fortunately, my ScootBiz fare did come with a free meal.
For those who’d like more, or those seated in economy who’d like to eat, the menu read as follows (the below menu is for the entire plane, and not just for ScootBiz):
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Menu
I ordered a Nasi Lemak, which came in a plastic container. The container wasn’t easy to open, since the plastic cover had melted in the microwave and thus stuck to the container underneath, so I ended up stabbing it with a knife. The meal came with a complimentary drink, so I selected Somersby apple cider.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Meal
The meal was okay. I’ve heard horrendous things about meals on Scoot, though I actually found the nasi lemak to be flavourful without being too salty. There was a piece of fish that felt rather sausage-like, though the flavour was quite tasty as well. This doesn’t rank anywhere close to the best airline meals I’ve had, though I thought it was perfectly acceptable.
The meal was served with a Ritter Sport Cornflakes chocolate bar, which was described as “breakfast in a chocolate bar”. Breakfast it certainly wasn’t, but it was a decent chocolate bar, and I had quite a few squares of it.
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Meal – Nasi Lemak
My mother chose the braised chicken, which was Taiwanese-style. It tasted decidedly like a meal you’d get at a Taiwanese fast food restaurant (and considering this is food on a low-cost airline, that’s a compliment).
Scoot Boeing 787 ScootBiz Meal – Braised Chicken Taiwanese Style
It took a while for our meals to be cleared. However, despite taking somewhat longer to clear trays and not handing us sleeping sets, I found the crew to be very professional. I was addressed by name whenever they came by, and even though I didn’t see them after the meal service, all interactions with them were courteous and accompanied with a smile.
Narita is quite a distance from Tokyo, so the 12 PM departure time meant we were awake by 6 AM. That caught up with me quickly, so I nodded off after the meal service, waking up around 35 minutes out of Taipei.
Approaching Taiwan Taoyuan Airport
I manage to get decent sleep in premium economy seats, so didn’t have a problem sleeping in this seat. So I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready for our quick transit in Taipei!
Ready to land at Taiwan Taoyuan Airport!
While weather in Taipei wasn’t amazing, we still managed to get some nice, rustic views of Taipei during our approach into Taoyuan Airport, before touching down at 3:00 PM.
Views upon Landing into Taipei Taoyuan Airport
We taxied past some interesting aircraft on our way to gate B8, where we’d be parked. While we were ending our journey with Scoot here, the passengers continuing onto Singapore were also invited to alight the aircraft.
Can anyone identify this aircraft?
UPS Boeing 747 Taipei Airport
We managed to taxi past two EVA Air A321s, one of which had an adorable Gudetama livery.
EVA Air Airbus A321 Taipei Airport
EVA Air Airbus A321 Taipei Airport
We parked next to a couple of Cathay Pacific aircraft at gate B8 – though neither of them would be operating my flight to Hong Kong, as our aircraft was still on its way from Osaka.
Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 Taipei Airport
When we deplaned, we were given customs cards by the flight crew, which we had to hand to a designated officer before transiting or, in our case, going through immigration (we had to pass immigration to retrieve our luggage). Unfortunately, Taipei Taoyuan Airport is even more of a dump than Tokyo Narita is, and it took quite a while to enter the arrivals hall. What’s worse, our bags actually took around 45 minutes to come out of the carousel.
After we retrieved our bags, we exited the arrivals hall and made the 5-minute outdoor walk to the departures hall.
Bottom Line: Scoot 787 ScootBiz
Since I was walking in with low expectations, Scoot impressed me. ScootBiz seats are fairly comfortable, though they do fall on the lower end of the scale as far as low-cost airline premium cabins go. These seats can’t compete with the seats operated by airlines such as AirAsia X, Lion Air, or Norwegian (despite Norwegian having the same seat “bones”, they’ve made significant cutbacks to seat pitch in order to reduce capacity, and still have around double the legroom, so I’ve heard) – however, ScootBiz seats are more than enough if you’re flying on a short flight, and comparable to a premium economy seat if you’re flying on a longhaul flight. I found the crew to be friendly on this leg as well, and they were also very professional, despite a couple of slip-ups.
I also found the add-ons for ScootBiz to be acceptable as a whole. Ultimately, Scoot should make it clearer that their ScootBiz passengers have to download the ScooTV app in advance in order to maximise their free entertainment perk, though they aren’t the only airline that can be held culprit of that. I thought the meals were decent, as they were edible, and came with a free drink – though I’d definitely appreciate some more premium food and beverage options for Scoot’s premium cabin (in contrast, Norwegian gives their premium passengers unlimited free drinks, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, whereas Scoot only provides one for their ScootBiz passengers). I was also happy that there was WiFi, even though it was a little on the expensive side. Furthermore, I also thought the sleeping kit was good enough, despite the inflatable pillow being hideous.
I have to note that I’m irked by the policy that you can’t bring outside food and beverages on Scoot. Low-cost airlines can generally be split into two categories – those that try to give you more choice and unbundle the flight experience (think Cebu Pacific), and those that just try to nickel and dime you throughout the entirety of the flight (think Ryanair). Unfortunately, the no-outside-food rule means that Scoot teeters towards the latter category.
I found this a comfortable flight, and wouldn’t hesitate to fly ScootBiz again. Scoot offers fifth-freedom flights between Taipei and various airports in Japan, and the fares for these routes can be quite reasonable, so I’d probably fly one of those flights if I decided to fly ScootBiz again. That being said, I’d love to try some other low-cost airlines’ premium products as well, as they’d help put this flight into perspective.
Have you flown ScootBiz before? How was your experience?