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.
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!
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.
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..
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.