Australian Business Traveller was invited on the delivery flight of Scoot’s first Boeing 787, and we've got the world’s first review of Scoot's latest ‘ScootBiz’ business class seats aboard the Dreamliner.
While Singapore Airlines' offshoot Scoot is undeniably a low-cost airline, this doesn't mean its planes are packed with economy seats from tip to tail.
ScootBiz is Scoot's business class cabin, and in the Boeing 787 it spans 35 seats in a 2-3-2 layout at the very front of the plane.
It also challenges the notion of what 'business class' really means.
Let's be clear on this: ScootBiz is not in the same league as the business class on full service airlines such as Qantas, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand or just about any other airline you'd care to name.
Scoot's yardstick is more realistically the premium economy cabins of those airlines; the 'premium' cabin of low-cost competitors such as Air Asia X; or what business class used to be like some two decades ago.
Each ScootBiz seat on the Boeing 787 includes an adjustable headrest and a sizeable armrest between every passenger.
There's AC power for every passenger and the universal sockets accept Australian pins without requiring an adapter.
Each group of seats can provide up to 250W of total power, so if you’ve packed a large, power-hungry laptop, avoid the middle set of three…
… and instead aim for a twosome on either side of the aircraft:
This means there's more juice to be shared between the two seats, which reduces your chances of tripping the power supply and being unable to charge up your laptop in flight.
Disappointingly there are no USB sockets – something we rate as a major oversight considering how many travellers bring a smartphone or tablet on board but might not care to carry the device's AC charger.
Wherever you’re sitting in ScootBiz, you’ll have 22 inches of space between the armrests and 38 from headrest to headrest (also known as 'pitch'), which makes legroom more than adequate:
But you can forget about an angled or fully flat bed – that's not what ScootBiz is about.
All seats – even those in the back row of ScootBiz with the bulkhead behind – can recline up to 8 inches, which is once again on par with most airlines' premium economy.
To top things off, there’s an extendable leg rest (most visible in this PR-supplied shot below) to help you snooze on long overnight flights.
You’ll find the seat controls at the end of the armrest…
… while the flight attendant call bell and switches for the reading light are at the side of the seat:
There's also a single seat pocket in which to store all of your kit...
... although the space next to the seat doesn't pack in a pocket.
Scoot’s Boeing 787 ScootBiz: inflight entertainment
Rather than offering seatback entertainment screens as you’d typically find on most international airlines, Scoot beams movies and TV shows to travellers’ own smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Scoot's Dreamliners also boast satellite-fed inflight wireless Internet access.
The top speed – which we achieved early in the flight by being the only passenger connected to the network – came in at 6.59Mbps for download, with uploads at 0.09Mbps and pings of 808ms. That's on par with satellite Internet services.
But as other passengers began to connect the speeds dropped noticeably.
By the time we had 40 passengers online at the same time download speeds dropped to a mere 0.35Mbps with uploads at 0.01Mbps – making the connection almost unusable.
Pricing starts at US$11.95 for one hour through to US$16.95 for three hours and US$21.95 for a 24-hour pass that includes Internet access on any onward Scoot flight where Wi-Fi is available – a significantly better deal than airlines that charge per megabyte rather than per minute.
Scoot’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner: the comfort factor
Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or fly just once a year, the first thing you’ll notice is just how quiet the Dreamliner is.
If you’ve worn active noise-cancelling headphones on older generation aircraft such as the Boeing 747-400 or the Airbus A330, that near-silence you enjoy with the headphones on is what passengers can now expect with their headphones off.
The cabin is also pressurised at a lower 6,000 feet as opposed to the typical 8,000 feet, which means there’s a little more moisture in their air.
Having taken countless journeys of similar length aboard older Boeing 777 aircraft, I’d noticed that my skin would always dry out after four or so hours in the air unless I’d moisturised beforehand.
Yet on the Dreamliner, my skin still felt soft and fresh closer to landing – certainly a welcome change and subtle improvement to the overall experience, aided further by the adjustable mood lighting in the cabin:
That said, the lack of personal (adjustable) air vents did make it somewhat harder to get comfortable, and as leather seats don’t breathe particularly well, the two aren’t a good mix on ultra-long flights – but should be comfortable enough for shorter hops such as from Australia to Singapore.
As with other Dreamliners the 'electrochromic' tinting of these very large windows lets you make things darker or lighter at the touch of a button rather than fumbling with a manual shade.
Transitioning from fully-bright (‘open’) to 99.9% dark ('closed') takes roughly two minutes, so be patient.
Scoot’s Boeing 787 ScootBiz: the verdict
ScootBiz isn’t your typical ‘business class’, but it doesn’t pretend to be.
It’s more akin to either domestic business class or international premium economy, filling the gap for travellers looking for a little extra comfort on their journey yet without the hefty price tag.
And what you pay for ScootBiz can be quite competitive, which drives its appeal to business travellers on a budget.
However, the lack of seatback inflight entertainment is particularly noticeable at meal times when there’s nowhere to stash your iPad, and on overnight flights where you’ll have to balance your tablet on your meal tray as you try to rest and hope that it doesn’t fall to the floor.
There also aren’t any airport lounges available to ScootBiz passengers outside of Singapore – so while travellers can shower and relax before Scoot’s overnight flights to Australia, the same isn’t true on the return.
That’s easily overcome for Sydneysiders that hold an eligible Platinum, Black or Centurion AMEX card and who can access the American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport regardless of the airline they’re travelling with, although that option isn’t one for everybody.
But lounges and entertainment aside, when one-way ScootBiz flights from Sydney to Singapore can often be found for A$399, there’s not much to complain about when you’re paying the price of an economy airfare for a premium and business-friendly experience.
Scoot’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner will fly its first paying customers on February 5 between Singapore and Perth and will be introduced on all Scoot flights to Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast throughout this year.
Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Scoot and Boeing.
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