Scooting to Seoul – Delayed Budget Airline Experience


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In my recent trip to South Korea, I chose to take Scoot for the second time (1st time was in 2013 when they first launched the route) because they had ridiculously cheap prices during their 1 for 1 post-Christmas sale last year (2016). By the way, I paid only $315 for my return air tickets and this price even included 2-way 20kg baggage allowance.

Apart from the lack of inflight entertainment and food plus the additional 1-2 hours transfer wait at Taoyuan airport, there was one huge unpredictable risk if you choose to travel with Scoot to Seoul. The possibility of missing the last bus/train out to the city.

The flight is scheduled to land 21:35 (Previously in 2011, it was 22:35) and the last airport train out to Seoul is at 23:42. This gives you a buffer of 2 hours and 7 mins for potential flight delay, clearing immigration, collecting your baggage, topping up or buying a T-money card plus running to the train tracks. Night buses are available but it only brings you to Seoul Station or Gangnam Express Bus Terminal.

Here are some tips on how you can chiong for the train with reference to my 2013 experience

Seriously Tipping on my crazy experience:

(1) Do check in early at the counter and beg (if you don’t wish to pay more) for a seat as front as possible. Even if you have to be separated from your friend, you have to get a front sit. It is extremely crucial.

(2) Pray hard that there isn’t any flight delay. Once the plane lands, pack everything quickly and stand by in ready position, all set to dash for the exit.

(3) Wear a good pair of shoes, you will need it for your mad dash. Even though you have to rush, please remember that safety comes first. If you think that this mad dash is very kiasu, I’m telling you that the Koreans do it too; or risk not getting on the last train out.

(4) Upon alighting the plane, follow the signs to “Arrival”. In most scenarios, you will be required to take a sky train to the main terminal. You have to be on the first train out!

(5) Observe the crowd and plan your route to weave through and stand in line in the shortest queue at the immigration counter.

(6) Pray hard that your officer is fast and efficient and that there aren’t any troublesome passengers in your queue.

(7) After immigration, look for your luggage belt number on the screen and go down the escalator.

(8) Position yourself strategically right in front of the belt where the luggage falls out.

(9) Wish that your luggage would be the first few to fall out or travel only with hand carry! (I haven’t found any pattern with regards to whether checking in early or late allows your luggage to fall out earlier)

(10) Always use a four-wheel luggage. You will need its four wheels to run faster,

(11) Once you have collected your luggage, proceed to the “Green Zone” custom declaration and hand over the declaration form to the person in charge.

(12) After exiting the final gate, make a dash for the escalator/lift which brings you down to the basement. Follow the signs to “Airport Railroad”.

(13) Run/Jog/Walk as fast as you can! This is an approximately 10 minutes walk towards the train station. This is why you should be using a 4-wheel luggage. You will be able to push your luggage in front of you and run instead of dragging it behind you.

(14) Try to loan a T-money card (ideally with money) beforehand. This way, you do not have to purchase ticket/top up card, ideally saving a few more minutes.

This means that once you get on the scoot flight, you have to pray hard that there is no flight delay.

[Note: This was my experience in 2013] My flight landed at 22:50 and I did manage to make it to the train platform by 23:38 and it involves the effort of all the above that I have mentioned. You can read more details here.

 

Anyway assuming your flight gets delayed and there isn’t anymore airport train, here are your options:

(a) Catch the 23:47 train to ‘Digital Media City’ and transfer to a cab

(b) Late Night Bus (00:15 to 04:40) to Seoul Station or Gangnam Express Bus Terminal

(c) Taxi – approximately 70,000W (inclusive of 20% midnight surcharge)

(d) Find an accommodation near the Airport:http://www.booking.com/airport/kr/icn.en.html

(e) Chill at the airport till the next morning train 05:24.

  • 24 hours options – Burger King, Lotteria, KFC, etc.

For my recent trip in Apr 2017 which we landed at 2:30am, I can’t share my experience because my friend’s korean friend came to pick us up at the airport at 3-4am so we kind of had a private car transfer to our guesthouse in Hapjeong/Mangwon area.

When we landed, the airport was pretty empty but I do see some koreans prepping themselves up for the 2.5 hours wait for the first train out to the city. They were finding some cosy corner seats to rest so I guess it’s pretty do-able but you will kind of waste your first night accommodation (assuming you pre-booked it). If I had been alone, I would be doing this option as it would be crazy to splurge 70,000W on a taxi. I haven’t tried the night bus either so I’m also unsure of how it works but i guess it shouldn’t be too hard. Do share with me (in the comments below) if you have tried the night bus from Incheon airport!

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Alright, so back to my experience on the 5 hours and 55 minutes delay on 26 April 2017, Wednesday.

On the morning of our flight, we realised that our flight timing has been delayed from 12pm to 1pm while we were checking-in at the counter. With this ‘delay’, we slowly strolled to Terminal 3 to have lunch at Itacho before heading back to Terminal 2. Sadly, upon reaching the “boarding gate”, we saw that the flight has been delayed from 1pm to 1:45pm.

Note: I am not sure if this applies for ALL Scoot flights but most of their flights departing and arriving from Changi Airport does not enjoy the luxury of “Aerobridge” anymore. This means that passengers will have to wait at a Level 1 Waiting area (which does not have sufficient seats for everyone) for the bus transfer to the plane. You will have to walk the stairs up to the plane which may not be the best option for elderly and young children.


If this was not the case, I guess I am just “lucky” as I had to do the bus transfer for both ways of the trip. It was my first time using the stairs for a departure out of Singapore.

There were insufficient seats in the waiting area and we were somewhat lucky to find some floor space which allows us to sit and lean against the wall. And so the wait continued and announcements of further delay were made. Then, came an announcement that the new scheduled timing was 4:15pm and we had to evacuate the boarding gate area and utilize our $10 meal voucher at the food court at Level 3.

We didn’t plan to utilize the meal voucher as we were still quite full from lunch but since we had to evacuate the gate, we proceeded to the food court which has a massive long queue. Right. Imagine 280 passengers waiting in line to order from 2 cashiers and because it was a free redemption, each order took more than 1 minute to process as there were additional buttons they had to key in the POS system.

By the time it was our turn, the airport staff said that we could only do a takeaway as we had to rush back to the boarding gate. As part of the meal package, we were allowed to take a canned drink from the drinks store but.. guess what? We had to throw the canned drink away when we went through the security check again.

When we left the gate to board the bus, the staff distributed a letter (could be useful for insurance claims) which stated the reason for delay (technical issues) and that our flight was delayed till 4:15PM. In that letter, they also mentioned that they will be sending a $50 Scoot Voucher to us in our email as part of a ‘compensation’. I only received the email on 12 May (17 days after our delayed trip). The voucher was valid for 6 months so now I’m kind of wrecking my head over where to go for my next holiday with Scoot. Good marketing strategy I guess.

So when we finally boarded the plane, the captain made another announcement about a delay, this time round it was due to a hydraulic leak on the runway from a previous aircraft. So it was another waiting game and we ate our takeaway meal and the staff was not strict with the “no outside food and drinks” rule. The staff even filled cups with water and distributed it to the passengers on the plane. I felt it was a good gesture for the staff to make that extra effort.

After finishing my meal, watching a bit of K-drama on my mobile phone (managed to download a couple of episodes using airport wifi during the delay), the plane finally departed at 5:55PM, 5 hours 55 minutes after the scheduled time of 12PM.

NOTE: TRAVEL INSURANCE ONLY VALID WITH >6 HOURS OF DELAY

Well, we were rather unlucky since we missed out on a potential $100 claim, should the plane depart 6 minutes later. Anyway, even though the plane was further delayed from 4:15PM to 5:55PM, Scoot did not provide us with an additional letter with the new delayed timing. I did hear of passengers asking for another letter (with the new timing) while we were on the plane but I vaguely remember the cabin crew said that they were unable to provide the letter and asked them to dispute when they reach the airport. I am not sure if there’s any insurance which does a payout for delays less than 6 hours but I do remember that there’s a clause for missing connection flights.

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The issue with budget airlines is that when one flight delays, it results in a chain reaction for the remaining flights. Being a budget airlines, most (if not all) of the aircrafts are operating at maximum capacity with close to zero downtime. Delays are somewhat inevitable and I guess that’s the ‘price’ to pay for cheaper tickets.

Even though the delay was super annoying, I was pretty calm throughout the entire ‘ordeal’. On one hand, I really paid cheaply (pay peanuts, get monkeys) and the other hand was.. I did not have any scheduled itinerary in Korea which I had to adhere to. We reached our guesthouse only at 5:30am and woke up close to 11am the following day (which we had no plans).

Another thing which made me keep my sanity was how calm the rest of the affected passengers were. There were many people with babies, toddlers and young children yet they had 0 complains (or none of them expressed it out) on the ground. There were people panicking about their connecting flight to Jeju but none of them raised their voices at the staff on duty. Basically, everyone kept rather calm and the staff maintained their attitude and temper well too. I don’t know how to describe the feeling but it was a little heartwarming to realise that everyone was not trying to many anyone’s day difficult. It was my first time going through such a long flight delay and I would have imagined the crowd to be rowdy and unreasonable but everything was peaceful (at least on the ground).

The unhappy people expressed their dissatisfaction on Social Media – mainly on Scoot’s Facebook Page but none of them received favourable or useful replies which is the norm for budget airlines. I guess most people know that there’s a price to pay for budget airline tickets and if you’re unhappy with it you can simply pay for full flight carrier the next time. Oh wells, it has been more than 10 years and budget airlines seem to be expanding greater than ever..

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Sorry for digressing so much in this post and thank you for reading through to the end. Well, I hope that I can spread the message of ‘being gracious and understanding’ in your next flight delay (though I wouldn’t wish for it to happen) as being angry wouldn’t solve any problem. Screaming and shouting and showing temper at the counter staff or cabin crew ain’t going to make that flight delay shorter. When you’re tired, they are even more tired during such delays as their working hours gets extended and I don’t think they get paid ‘overtime’ from these delays so.. be gracious, calm and understanding and make the world a better place.

Otherwise, just give up taking budget airlines and stick to the full flight carriers and pray that their service is better.

Continue reading about my ‘summary’ of my 12-day trip to South Korea.


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  • Hi Honeystars, I chanced upon your website when I was searching for Korea itinerary. I just want to share with you my flight delay and insurance claim after seeing it is Scoot delay again. I have faced flight delay several times and only twice it met the insurance claims minimum hours.

    Firstly, you need to be patient. It took me several calls and even the need to go down in person to the Singapore Airline office to finally receive the official flight delay letter. After going through so much trouble to get this letter, Singapore Airline, a reputable airline, can still issue the flight delay letter with typo mistake (They swapped the arrival and departure time in the letter). Luckily the travel insurance company we bought from still deemed the letter as a good proof and we managed to get the flight delay claim. Another note is the generic or last minute delay letter that airline prepared to inform the passengers when they are about to depart from or arrive at destination may not be enough for the claim if it does not state the proper flight delay reason and actual arrival time. If the flight delay reason is not clear enough (Scoot Airline stated in the letter the reason for flight delay is “Flight Delay” which is genius), the travel insurance company can still reject your claim.

    Secondly, it is good to call up the insurance company to check whether you qualify for the claim. My flight delay hours did not meet the full 6 hours; it was 5 to 10 minute short. However, i thought why not just try my luck and submitted the claims. And eventually i gotten the cheque for the flight delay. I was later told by the travel insurance company that they will still allow the claim if it is within 15 minute grace period. Eg. 5 hr 45 mins, 11 hr 50 min etc.

    Hope my experience can help you in case of future flight delay which is so frequent not only in budget airline but even reputable airline.

    • Hi there! Thanks for spending time to write such a lengthy and useful comments! If only I know about it earlier, I could have tried to appeal for my flight delay insurance~~ But I guess it is too late since it has been more than 2 months. Thank you once again and hope you found something useful on my blog for your korea trip planning!

  • Hi Honeystars,
    chances upon your blog while searching for itinerary for my upcoming Korea trip in October via Scoot as well. Would like to check with you, since Scoot will transit in Taoyuan (1 hr), do I have to collect the checked baggage, clear arrival immigration at Taoyuan and check in again for the connecting flight to Seoul? Kindly advise me as I’m a bit confused as the itinerary sent by Scoot mentioned about the flight transfer.

    • Hi there! For the scoot flight from Singapore to Incheon (stop over Taipei) which is about 8 hours travel time, you do not have to collect your checked baggage or clear arrival immigration. Upon reaching Taipei, you will have to evacuate the plane with your hand carry, queue and collect a transfer card upon leaving the gate, go through security scan and then walk back to the gate and await for boarding. The whole process will take between 30 to 60 mins. You do not have to collect your checked in baggage (it still remains on the plane) or go through immigration (no chop on passport). You can read my experience in my 2013 blog post – http://www.flyhoneystars.com/2013/08/03/second-plane-ride-alone/