Scoot prepares for growth boom

Our favourite airline, Scoot, is gearing-up for double-digit growth over the next three years.

And, in preparation, the Singapore Airlines offshoot is set to move into Terminal 1 at Singapore’s Changi Airport to provide an improved check-in and boarding process.

Changi has been working to expand T 1’s passenger handling  capacility as part of wider improvements at the airport.

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Scoot says the terminal upgrades will be able to handle Scoot’s  projected growth while improving check-in facilities in a more spacious terminal.

The upgrades include expanded baggage facilities and are expected to be completed in 2019.

A new “meeters and greeters” hall has been in use since April 2018 and the Changi T 1 departure hall now has a zone where passengers can check in and drop off their bags at self-service machines.

Scoot chief executive, Lee Lik Hsin, said the move to T1 would help the airline continue serving its growing customer base, and meet their needs for a fast and fuss-free pre-flight experience,’’

“We are working hard to achieve a seamless transition for our customers, employees and service partners, and we look forward to welcoming everyone to our new home in T1 next year.”

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Changi Airport said it periodically reviewed the allocation of airlines across all terminals to provide sufficient capacity for future traffic growth.

Scoot has carried 60  million guests and operates a fleet of 18 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 27 Airbus A320 aircraft.

The airline’s network now covers 66 destinations in 18 countries and territories.  

Scoot has two Boeing 787s and 38 Airbus A320neo aircraft on order.

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Scoot opens another European air link

Scoot, the low-cost arm of the Singapore Airlines Group, has started its third long-haul service – this time to the German capital of Berlin.

The service, which leaves Singapore four times a week, provides yet another well-priced European gateway for people in Asia and Australasia.

Scoot CEO, Mr Lee Lik Hsin, welcomed the continuing growth of the airline’s low-cost long-haul network, following last year’s addition of services to and from Athens and Hawaii.

“Vibrant, creative and steeped in history, we are confident that the city of Berlin will appeal to any market or demographic, and open a new and exciting part of the continent for travellers.”

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Scoot Operating Officer, Vinod Kannan, welcomes passengers and crew on board to Berlin

Scoot currently flies to 65 destinations across 18 countries and territories, with its fleet of 17 Boeing Dreamliners and 24 Airbus A320 family aircraft.

Three more Dreamliners and 39 Airbus A-320neo aircraft have been ordered, with Scoot’s fleet expected to increase to about 70 by 2022.

With the addition of Berlin, the Singapore Airlines Group network in Germany now encompasses four cities, including Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich, with a total of 29 return services a week.

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More airlines offering stripped-back fares

More airlines are offering stripped-back fares to help compete in the growing market of budget-conscious travellers.

European airlines, KLM and Air France are the latest so-called legacy carriers to introduce a reduced fare that doesn’t include seat selection, check-in luggage or the ability to change a booking.

Reports from the UK say that the fares – scheduled to start in April on transatlantic flights – are part of a growing trend among European airlines.

Alitalia is also offering an Economy Light fare that limits passengers to one piece of hand luggage and does not offer booking amendments or ticket refunds.

Lufthansa also offers a similar fare.

A few months ago, we were charged a fee to slightly amend two tickets on Aegean Airlines.

American, Delta and United airlines also offer basic economy fares – some of which do not allow use of overhead lockers.

And British Airways made headlines last year after it announced that people who bought its basic fare would board its planes last.

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Sales are open for new route to Europe

People planning to fly to Europe from Asia and Australia have another option – and tickets are already on sale.

Scoot, the low-cost arm of the Singapore Airlines group (SIA) has launched initial ticket sales for a second long-haul service to Europe.

From June 20, Scoot expects to start non-stop flights from Singapore to Berlin, Germany.

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Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

The airline already operates popular flights between Singapore and Athens, Greece.

And it recently also began long-haul flights to Hawaii via Japan.

Launch fares

Confirming the starting date of the Berlin corridor, Scoot announced promotional fares from Perth, Australia at $379 one way, with additional charges for baggage and food.

Flying in the airline’s premium ScootBiz class, from Perth to Berlin initially will cost $1199 one way.

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Dreamliner magic

Scoot says that flights from Melbourne or Sydney to Berlin are on sale for $439 one-way (bags and food extra) or $1299 in ScootBiz.

Fares from Australia’s Gold Coast initially are $429 (bags and food extra) and $1299 in ScootBiz.

For more on ScootBiz inclusions, see our age-friendly review of the premium service.

The promotional fares are subject to availability and will remain on sale until one-minute to midnight on January 31 in Perth; until 0159 on February 1 in the Gold Coast; and 0259 on February 1 in Sydney and Melbourne.

These fares are for travel between June 20 and October 26.

Scoot is also offering an additional $30 off selected FLYBAG and FLYBAGSEAT fares for people who key in the promotional code GOBERLIN while booking.

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Photo courtesy Scoot

The four-times-weekly Singapore-Berlin return flights will feature ultra-modern, widebody, twin-aisle Boeing 787 Dreamliners, subject to regulatory approval.

See our detailed review of the remarkable Scoot 787 Dreamliner.

Germany applauds new service

Director of the German National Tourist Office in Sydney, Stefanie Eberhard, described the new Scoot flight to Berlin as “fantastic news for Germany”.

“It opens up many new opportunities for Australian visitors and, with additional flights, travellers can easily explore the capital Berlin and nearby cities such as Dresden, Leipzig and Hamburg.

“Berlin is a happening city packed with exciting events, concerts, exhibition and shows all year round. Germany’s focus for 2018 is ‘Culinary Germany’ which aims to introduce travellers to the country’s gourmet highlights”.

Taste of Scoot

Scoot’s taste of Germany – photo courtesy Scoot

Continuing to expand choices

Scoot’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Lee Lik Hsin, said the airline’s long haul flights to Athens and Honolulu had lived up to expectations.

“Our guests tell us that the 787 Dreamliner has been key to convincing them to travel long-haul on low-cost.

“With Berlin, we continue our mission to add more choices for great value, long-haul, low-cost travel.”

Scoot currently flies to 63 destinations across 17 countries.

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Powering the Scoot Dreamliner

The airline has a fleet of 16 Dreamliners and 24 Airbus A320’s – with a further four Dreamliners and 39 Airbus A320neo aircraft on order.

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Berlin cathedral

The new Berlin route will be flown four days a week – each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

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Leaning toward a ban on plane seat reclining

We were flying Economy from London to Sydney with British Airways when a man in front abruptly reclined his seat the full distance, almost striking Sue in the face.

He then took a tablet and seemed to fall asleep. This occurred so quickly that there was no chance of negotiation.

Before his companion had time to do the same, I raised my feet and pushed hard on the back of the seat to prevent that one from also reclining.

The woman tried several times and then gave up.

Standing on the seat

Now, Sue is, by nature, a gentle soul, but when she was unable to lower the table for a meal and was forced to stand on the seat to get out for a call of nature, she alerted the cabin crew.

However, neither the man nor his companion could be woken by the crew  and the steward finally shrugged and promised to seek an alternative seat for Sue.

We didn’t want to be separated, so we suffered the situation for most of the trip.

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Hence, we’ve watched with interest as the question of banning reclining seats – initially on domestic flights – has become a hot issue in recent months.

This is not an ‘Age-Friendly’ issue: fully reclining seats can cramp the space of all passengers.

However, it is one of the biggest travel complaints that we hear – and we’re not alone.

Late last year, several flights were diverted after midair passenger fights over reclining seats.

And in the past few weeks, British Airways, announced that it would ban seat reclining – at least on short flights. In doing so, it joined several other  airlines, including RyanAir.

For decades, it was assumed that if you bought a seat, then you had the right to recline it.  This argument still has plenty of supporters.

Times change

But, times change and a few recent online polls of air travellers appear to have  shown a preference for non-reclining seats. Obviously, the issue has been simmering for some time.

The way we see it, whatever space there is in Economy, is effectively shared space.

If, for some genuine reason, we needed to recline a seat, the person behind would be informed first.

Most people wouldn’t consider reclining their seat sharply in a car. So why is a plane any different?

What do you think?

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Taking sustainable tourism seriously

There’s two sides to the question of sustainable tourism.

In Europe, there have been surges of resident concern about overcrowding and the impact of cruise ships on fragile ancient cities like Venice, Barcelona, Dubrovnik and Italy’s Isle of Capri.

Tourism contributes enormously to economies and job-creation, but also creates pressure on local cultures, the environment and energy resources.

Anyone who has visited the Greek islands, Venice or Capri in Summer will attest to the problems of cruise ships and coaches disgorging thousands of people into tiny, Medieval streets.

However, there’s another key side to the issue that doesn’t necessarily grab the headlines, but is even more important.

Positive action is being taken across a range of areas to ensure that mass tourism doesn’t destroy the attractions that draw people in the first place.

One of the most high profile measures occurred when the United Nations highlighted the issue by designating 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

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This gave important impetus to a range of industry measures that were able to be highlighted during the year.

Its tourism body, the UNWTO, encouraged practices like minimizing the use of plastic; protecting natural and cultural heritage such as rain forests and historical sites; supporting local communities by employing local staff, buying local products and engaging in charity work.

However, sustainable tourism measures were well underway before 2017.

The airline industry, for example, has long been investing in new-age planes that burn less fuel and provide health and cost-saving benefits.

For example, we recently rated the Age-Friendliness of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Scoot Airlines between Australia and Athens.

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It was an eye-opening experience.

The Dreamliner is made of composite plastic, uses less fuel, leaves passengers feeling more refreshed upon arrival and seems much quieter than similar-size jets.

Scoot has set a tremendous example of sustainability and environmental consciousness by dominating its fleet with Dreamliners.

And, of course, that is only part of an important trend.

Treading in the right direction

10462890_747168288660125_7424016551669484611_n.jpgOther notable and praiseworthy steps toward sustainable tourism include the TreadRight Foundation, a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands, which include prominent industry players AAT Kings; Trafalgar Tours; Red Carnation Hotels; Insight Vacations; Contiki Tours; Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection; and Creative Holidays.

TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit that encourages sustainability by providing grants to protect natural attractions and unique heritages. To date, TreadRight has helped support at least 40 sustainable tourism projects worldwide.

An example is the first-of-its-kind guide for sustainable river cruising. This guide suggests strategies for reducing water and energy use and waste generation on river cruises.

These type of positive initiatives allow travellers to select and support companies that are showing a commitment to sustainable tourism.

The cruise industry itself has also been involved in ocean conservation measures such as reducing exhause emissions – and has invested in fuel efficient ships and water and waste conservation.

And, importantly, cruise companies are increasingly looking beyond their ships to the places they visit – encouraging onshore tour providers to adopt sustainable practices.

The Centre for Responsible Travel (CREST) is a research organization with the aim of increasing the positive global impact of responsible tourism.

CREST says it helps governments; policy makers; tourism businesses; nonprofit organizations; and international agencies to find solutions to critical issues confronting tourism.

For the individual traveller, there are alsoa growing number of online travel purchasing platforms, such as Kind Traveler, claiming to help consumers choose companies that are giving back to their communites.

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Airline Review: Eurowings

After a wonderful roadtrip through Germany, we had picked up low-cost tickets to fly with Eurowings from Hamburg to the United Kingdom.

It was our first flight with the German carrier – and an ideal opportunity to rate Eurowings Age-Friendliness.

Here’s our rating:

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Hamburg Airport

Q: Was the booking process simple and easy to complete?

A: Yes. The Eurowings website was straight-forward and we booked ticketes without any problems. Later, we needed to make a change to Passport details – and the airline ’s telephone customer service did so without any problem or any additional charge.

While booking, we noticed the Eurowings also advised of the following help, if needed, free of charge:

Assistance for hearing-impaired passengers during boarding and deplaning
Assistance for visually impaired passengers during boarding and deplaning
Carrying passengers with impaired mobility to the plane and transport of one wheelchair
Assistance for passengers with impaired mobility from check-in to the plane
Assistance for passengers with impaired mobility on the steps to the plan

Q: Did Eurowings communicate after you booked tickets?

A: Yes were advised to be at the airport at least two hours before departure. Eurowings is also active on social media, so we kept a watch for announcements in the weeks running up to our flight.

Q: How was check-in?

A: Smooth. As expected, there were a lot of Eurowings luggage check-in desks at Hamburg airport. We printed our boarding passes at one of the many automated facilities – and checked-in our luggage within minutes of arriving. Many older travellers tend to shun the boarding pass machines, but these couldn’t be easier to operate.

Q: How was the airport experience?

A: Hamburg is a fairly big regional airport, but the arrival/departure boards were easy to follow and we were soon through security and into the departure lounge area. Eurowings advised one person on our flight that she could take her wheelchairs with her, subject to battery inspection. While checking in, it was politely suggested that we allow 30 minutes to get from check-in to the gate.

Q: Were there any problems boarding?

A: No. Our plane was on time and we boarded via a jetway and easily found our seat for the relatively short journey to London Heathrow.

Q: How was the aircraft?

A: Our plane was an Airbus A320 and was spotlessly clean and tidy. We were seated in Economy, which was comfortable enough. We had flown premium cabin from Australia to Europe on a Scoot Airlines 787 Dreamliner — and the Airbus certainly didn’t compare. However, for a short journey, the Eurowings offering was fine.

Q: Were the seats comfortable?

A: The seats were the usual Economy fare and, overall, the flight was comfortable and relaxing.

Q: How was the cabin crew?

A: Efficient, professional and polite. Although the flight was only about one-and-a-half hours, we were given light refreshments and a drink of water.

Q: Did you land on time?

A: The flight left Hamburg on time and arrived at London Heathrow about 10 minutes early. Both the take-off and landing were smooth – and there were no problems leaving the plane as we steeled ourselves to face British customs.

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Our Age-Friendliness Rating

8/10. From our experience, Eurowings is ideal for all ages – at least on a short to medium haul flight. The airline’s reputation of being a reliable, no-frills carrier doesn’t quite do it justice. We found that it communicated well; had a smooth check-in and boarding process; provided a clean and tidy aircraft and did absolutely nothing wrong on the ground or in the air. The Airbus Economy seats were comfortable without being anything to write home about; the personal space was adequate.

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