One of Australia’s leading travel writers, and friend to Cruise Passenger, David McGonigal is off to Borneo. You can follow his journey right here over the next 10 days. 

Part One.

Q. What’s the cheapest way to fly from Sydney to Singapore to join a cruise?

A. It depends. A friend suggested that, if we were prepared for “just a flight” then Scoot was ridiculously cheap. I knew Scoot was Singapore Airlines’ budget offshoot and I’d heard that Australian travel agents weren’t happy with the commissions it was offering. And I guess I had in the back of my mind that, with SIA heritage, it couldn’t be that bad. And it certainly was cheap – $517 one way for two adults. And that was including the better (yellow) seats over the cheaper blue ones but still not forking out for business class. And a total of 40 kg of baggage plus a couple of meals – the chicken biryani was passable but the meat lasagne was virtually inedible. And pre-ordered meals can’t be swapped (or eaten, I found).

Purchasing was relatively painless and I picked a couple of seats (23A & B) in the relatively tranquil section just behind Business. I received an emailed confirmation and that was that.

With the sanction of $25 per kilo for excess luggage I spent a lot of time pre-flight working with a set of scales. The biggest challenge was a mere seven kilo allowance for hand luggage – 10kg with a computer. My camera lenses weigh more than that.

At Mascot, two hours pre-departure, the check-in line was not too long and it moved quite fast but we still passed a few ads to upgrade to Scoot Biz for $99. Check in was quick and courteous although our one-way tickets required me to show a credit card so that we could afford our apparently indefinite stay in the Lion City. We were told to be at the gate an hour before take off – and that was when the gate opened. However, boarding started more that half an hour before departure and was done by zones. We took off on time, more or less.

Now the moment of truth – what does the aircraft look like? It was a 777-200 and the interior was clean and bright. Fortunately the flight was not full. Our seats has reasonable recline but seemed lacking in lumbar support. You can pay extra for a blanket, pillow and eye mask and I rather wish I had. There weren’t a lot of crew around but they were friendly and efficient. Flight deck announcements were minimal for our 8 hour flight. Scoot Biz was quarantined by a curtain but a quick look suggested it wasn’t Krug and lie-flat beds up there, either. We didn’t use the in-flight entertainment, pre-loaded on iPads.

We were largely left alone during the eight-hour flight and that was okay, too. We slept and read and worked – and watched the hours slowly pass. And we landed more or less on time and our bags were on the carousel by the time we walked there. Sadly, at no stage was our weight-conforming hand luggage weighed.

Would I fly Scoot again? Probably not if it starts flights to London or New York – that would be a Scoot too far. But for a flight of less than 10 hours, at the price it offers in a modern, clean aircraft I’d certainly consider it if my upgrade points on a full-fare airline were lacking.