Winston Aldworth flies from Berlin Tegel to Changi, in Singapore aboard Scoot TR735.
A snazzy 787-800, with the jagged, yellow-edge graphic design of Scoot, the cheeky low-cost subsidiary of Singapore. It's a good-looking plane.
Scoot's cut of the market is to appeal to those who want to save money on the flight to get spend more on experiences on the ground. This service (which started a few months ago) is by far the longest haul out of Tegel Airport, otherwise little more than a regional hub for European carriers. It would also be — and this is a total no-research reckon — pretty much the longest low-cost, no-frills flight in the world. More on that in a moment.
If you've based yourself in Australia in recent years, you might have encountered Scoot (formerly Tiger Airways). The connection via Singapore (and the codeshare with Singapore Airlines) makes Scoot a fine way for Kiwis to get to otherwise fiddly-to-reach Berlin.
Class: ScootinSilence is Scoot's take on Premium Economy. The seats are the same width as regular Economy, but with more legroom and a frankly genius no-children policy.
There are 33 seats in ScootinSilence, 21 up front in Business, and 281 down the back.
Seat: 5D. An aisle seat.
Flight time: Trick for young players — always check your flight status before heading to the airport. Like daft chooks, we reached the Tegel terminal in time to be told there was a three-hour delay Anyway, our 9.40am take off eventually became 1.40pm. Once airborne, we pretty much hit the scheduled 12hr, 10m to Changi.
Airport experience: Berlin's planning-related airport woes makes Mangere look like Doha.
Still, we used our extra time to good effect with people watching and clothes purchasing.
I found time to down a tall beer and eat a really good chicken burger (both purchased with a $17 voucher we were given for the delay). Chaps should take a minute to admire the vending machines by the urinals that sell sex toys — you thought Auckland Airport had tapped into all revenue options …
Fellow passengers: A broad mix with plenty of Aussie representation.
How full: Of the 33 seats in our cabin 12 were empty (meaning I got a row of three to myself). Economy is pretty packed while on my quick recce into Business I spotted three empties.
Food and drink: Here's where the low-cost factor kicks in. This is not a full-service flight.
You can buy a meal package before the flight (on our flight: beef or chicken; both were pretty good) or purchase them on the spot (S$12). There are light meals and snacks at various prices — best deal to plug the gap is probably the instant noodles at S$5). Even drinking water comes at a cost (S$4 for a 330ml of Evian). Be aware: You're not meant to bring your own food or drink on board (though I spotted a few illegitimate water bottles).
It's quite astounding to go for 12 hours without free water. I can understand paying for water on shorthaul, but this is 12 hours — half a day! Part of me thinks consumer reaction (and — y'know — the basic need for humans to consume fluid) will see a change in this, but the other part knows that travellers love a bargain and will book regardless.
Entertainment: Being low cost means no seatback screens. It's actually quite lovely. I read Jess Berentson-Shaw's A Matter of Fact before getting some work done and snoozing.
About a quarter of the passengers watched their own devices, some having downloaded the Scoot app.
The final word: A fascinating, fabulously low-cost option for getting into and out of Berlin, Europe's coolest city. Just be sure to allow for a couple of bottles of water in your budget.