Sunday, January 27, 2013

TRAVEL: Pre-Taiwan (Part I)

On January 7th, M and I went for the first of our many 'honeymoons'. Haha. It was actually a graduation trip. Yes, wohoo!!! Both of us are finally out of school and all ready to enter the workforce (M actually started work last Monday!). We decided on Taiwan because I was/ am really poor and Taiwan's a lot less expensive than Australia (Which is going to be this year's trip! Taiwan is counted as last year's.).

And because I am still very excited about the trip, my Taiwan travelogue is going to be pretty 'massive', with tons of details so if you don't really care for these, just scroll on and mentally erase the words. And just a note, we barely did any sightseeing because it was raining most of the time and visibility was really bad. And ummm... I'm really not a sightseeing person. So what can you expect from this travelogue?!? FOOD and MORE FOOD, of course!!! Haha. I gained like 1.1kg (I just got myself weighed at True Fitness last week. Lol. And I have started my 14-day trial with them. Double lol.).

So anyway, this entry and the next are all about the boring stuff; booking, tickets, our research etc. It's really information meant for all the newbies out there. For those who aren't, I hope it helps too, if you are new to booking with Scoot and Agoda or need new resources. (:

I first encountered Scoot back in July, when I was at the Kingsford Smith International Airport, Sydney, Australia. There was this guy, all decked out in Scoot's colours, calling for the passengers to "Please head this way!" with a cheery and friendly smile. And I thought it was really nice, came home, did my research, found out it was a subsidiary company of Singapore Airlines and decided to book my tickets to Taiwan with them.

Recently, the budget airline has been fraught with way too many problems. If you were to head on over to their Facebook page now, you can actually see tons of complaints. I was really worried before our flight but thankfully for us, other than a slight delay when we were coming back, we had no other problems. Everything went pretty smoothly.

For our trips to and fro, we arrived way before check-ins were opened so we weren't bumped (To be bumped is to be denied a seat when you have already paid for your ticket. It is actually a very common practice among airlines, especially so for budget airlines, because this helps to reduce their losses when passengers don't turn up for their flights.). Leg room was alright, we were given our pre-paid meals on board the planes (There was a mix-up on the way back but everything was resolved in a minute. The complaints online were that meals were sold to passengers who didn't pre-purchase them first so then, whatever that remained were given to passengers who actually pre-purchased their meals. And there were instances when the latter didn't receive what they paid for because the meals were sold out.), got our baggage allowances increased twice without much trouble, received our luggage and everything went pretty much smoothly. Our Scoot experience was actually pretty good.

So in spite of the recent happenings, we would fly with Scoot again but it would depend on our destination, the duration of the flight, prices, and of course, the public's feedback on social media platforms. I do think that the airline is biting off more than it can chew though. With only 4 aircrafts, it is really stretching itself.

And that's my two cents worth. Anyway, back to the booking procedure. After keying in your destination, dates and the number of tickets you want to book in the orange box on the top right corner, there are 4 simple steps involved:

Step 1: Select Flights
Step 2: Passenger Details
Step 3: Pick A Seat
Step 4: Review & Pay

Step 1: Select Flights
7 flights, along with the ticket prices, on 7 consecutive days are provided for each trip. Most of the departure flights leave slightly after midnight. The approximate flight duration is 4 hours and 13-45 minutes, so you will reach around 5-6am, so do plan your itinerary accordingly. Most hotels' check-in time is at 3pm. You can leave your luggage with the hotel and go shopping... 'Stoned', if you can't sleep on flights. Or alternatively, use the time that you are 'stoned' to travel to another part of Taiwan (For instance, you can take the bullet train to Kaohsiung高雄. The ride's about 2 hours plus and the train's really comfy so you can take a nap.). That way, you kind of 'maximize' your time. (:

Scoot has 4 different options for passengers:

Fly: Yourself + Hand-carry 7kg + Laptop 3kg.
There is no complimentary baggage allowance, but you can purchase a minimum of 15kg up to 40kg.
FlyBag: Yourself + Hand-carry 7kg + Laptop 3kg + Complimentary baggage allowance 15kg.
FlyBagEat: Yourself + Hand-carry baggage 7kg + Laptop 3kg + Complimentary baggage allowance 15kg + Meal.
ScootBiz: Yourself + Hand-carry 7kg + Laptop 3kg + Complimentary baggage allowance 15kg + Meal + In-flight entertainment. And you get to board first.

We chose FlyBagEat because we can't live for more than 3 hours without food. Boarding is done in an orderly manner, according to row numbers.

Step 2: Passenger Details
This is where you list your personal information, purchase additional baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment and insurance and select your meal options. Prices will all be indicated in the beige box on your right.

On our flight to Taiwan, we both had the Turkey Ham and Cheese Croissants. Each came with a bottle of Evian, an Evian bag tag and a packet of dried fruit chips. The croissants were pretty alright (Slightly salty.), except that they were cold. A ex-crew member friend mentioned that we could have got them heated up but the Scoot crew didn't say anything. We didn't mind but if we had that option, we would have opted for it because it was pretty cold on the plane.

On our flight back, I had the Roast Chicken Focaccia and M had the Soya Sauce Chicken. Again, each was accompanied with a bottle of Evian, an Evian bag tag and a packet of dried fruit chips. My sandwich was decent, though cold. M's meal was a little of a disappointment to him because there wasn't any braised egg, unlike what was pictured on the website. Haha. The rice was like those rice dumpling粽子's kind of glutinous rice.

Step 3: Pick A Seat
Self-explanatory... Remember to pick seats near the toilets and nearer to the front of the aircraft, if you don't like waiting!

Step 4: Review & Pay
Key in your credit card details and start counting down (For IPhone users, you can download the T-Zero Countdown Timer app! Haha!).

Once everything is done, you will be sent a copy of your itinerary and your certificate of insurance (If you had purchased it.). Please remember to print out a copy of your itinerary and bring it to the airport with you! No physical copy of the itinerary, no holiday for you! :\

And just a little more information on increasing your baggage allowance after booking/ during your trip... You can purchase additional baggage allowance online via the 'Manage My Booking' feature on Scoot's website. This has to be done at least 2 days before your flight. Alternatively, you can purchase it by calling Scoot's customer service executives at +65 3158 3388. The line's open 24/7 (We called around 2am and were placed through immediately.). (:

Alrightly, on to hotel booking and miscellaneous information!

P.S.: We paid Scoot S$925.10 in total, for 2. (:


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