Cut-price comfort

Make the most of the Asian air experience

JIM CRAIGIE

Malaysia-based Air Asia X and Singapore-based Scoot have cut the cost of getting to Asia, but what about the cut-price “experience”? Late last year I flew Scoot economy from Sydney to Singapore, flew Air Asia on to Malaysia, overnighted in a basic airport hotel, the Tune, outside the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) and later returned to Sydney in Air Asia’s premium class. I could barely squeeze into the Tune room, but late at night it was an itch-free place to sleep and cost only $54.

On Scoot I paid $60 for extra leg room in a bulkhead line of seats and found it comfortable. Food and drink items for sale were forgettable but, no matter, I had smuggled a roll on board. The flight left Sydney around 2pm and arrived early evening, in time for an excellent dinner at the airport. But Scoot’s return flight to Sydney departs at a depressing 2.30am (flight time around 7½ hours). When it came time to fly back to Sydney, Air Asia was just the ticket. Sure, it departed at 11.30pm but I was in premium class, meaning 12 genuine business class seats, flat-bed reclining and long enough to stretch out with luxurious pillow and duvet. I stretched out straightaway and slept for almost six hours (first time ever). Breakfast (tea and pancakes) was again forgettable, but it was the sleep in comfort that counted.

I’d paid $370 (a special booked months before); now it’s $800-plus one-way, but that’s still a bargain. Air Asia has also introduced a “quiet” economy zone, rows seven to 14, which is only for passengers who are not travelling with children aged 12 and under. So daytime Scoot is fine to Singapore, but go for Air Asia premium if possible on the way back. Scoot economy started at $239 one way from Sydney mid-February – I’d pay a bit extra for more leg room (www.flyscoot.com).

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