Sunday, February 24, 2013

Budget Airlines are cheaper for a reason...

TJ and I have learned our first lesson of budget travel: sometimes, it isn’t worth it.

Over the two days that we traveled with Delta to get to Singapore, we were well taken care of. The flights were long, but the flight attendants were friendly, food and drink were offered regularly, and the entertainment exceeded our expectations. We really had no complaints.

Then we booked a flight with Scoot Airlines to fly from Singapore to Sydney. It is advertised as a relatively new, budget airline, and I was excited to try it out. It is based in Singapore and runs international routes to a lot of the cities we are planning to visit, so it could have been a good option for us during our trip. Ticket prices are very low because they use a different business model than higher priced airlines. You pay for the flight itself; everything else costs additional. Where the Delta flights we were on were pretty much all-inclusive, this flight offered drinks and food for purchase on board. Blankets and pillows are extra. You get the idea. They also fly out at a ridiculous hour – 2:10 AM – which worked just fine for our jet-lagged bodies, and I imagine it costs them less, too.

The problem comes from having to pay for things you do NOT want, like checked luggage. They had a strict 7 kilo limit on all carry-on bags, and both of our bags were over that limit. The desk clerk that checked us in informed us that each checked bag would cost us $80. Woah! I tried negotiating with her, but the furthest I got was to finally succeed in explaining that we would check one bag, and we would take out the heavy things in the other bag to bring it under 7 kilos. It was the best case scenario under the circumstances, I suppose.

At this point, we were both physically and mentally exhausted. We had been standing in line to check in for 45 minutes. We were watching the clock countdown to when the check-in desk closed one hour before flight time. Now we were dealing with an unexpectedly high extra expense. Suddenly, everything the airline did was infuriating.

We waited in a second line to pay our fee while they held TJ’s luggage and boarding pass. This line was only about 5 people long, but it moved painstakingly slowly. Eventually, they informed us that they could only accept cash for the payment and that there was no ATM nearby. TJ hurried downstairs to the arrivals part of the airport to find an ATM, and we were able to pay the fee, plead with the clerk to tag and load the backpack, and rush off to our gate.

Then we had to deal with Singapore airport security. The security at this airport is set up outside of each gate, instead of for the whole terminal. Since everyone is arriving for the same flight, that means long lines at the gate while the checkpoints for other gates stand empty. Our bags went through the scanner, and the lady asked me to pull my scissors out of my bag. These scissors had been pulled out in Tokyo, too, and they were specifically approved by security there because they were small and rounded. I told her that they were ok in other airports, and she nodded and said “Not ok in Singapore, ma’am.” Great. She took my boarding pass and sent me to another security agent, who wrote up a report about the confiscation and asked me to sign it before returning the pass.

As I write this, I’m sitting on the plane with no concept of what time it is or how long we have until we land in Sydney. The only time a flight attendant has spoken to me was to ask me to raise my seat so the man behind me can eat, immediately after I woke up. The “drinking water” supply is so cloudy people have complained, and even the flight attendants seem grumpy. The land down under is looking more promising by the minute. 


  1. On a scale of 1 to 'well shit', that experience definitely counts as a 'well shit'. No scissors for you!

  2. As Jimmy Buffett says "We do it for the stories we can tell." and y'all are already starting to collect some great ones.