Budget airline Scoot recently relaunched its direct Gatwick-Bangkok flight with flight prices starting at £340.
The airline is also the only airline to fly direct from Gatwick to Bangkok and most fares are a fraction of the price of the majority of London-Thailand flights. A direct flight, however, means a 12-hour flight time (14 hours on the return trip), so 12 hours without the usual benefits you would expect on a long-haul flight.
Scoot Airlines, a subsidiary of Singapore Air, relaunched the route for the summer season in March. I joined the maiden flight to see for myself if sacrificing the frills of the flight was worth it for the savings.
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Scoot is a low-cost, no-frills airline and needs preparation and anticipation to make it as enjoyable as possible.
My first priority was food, meals on board cost extra (£9) and the menu was quite limited to veggie curries or spicy meat and rice dishes whatever time of day so I grabbed a meal and a bag of candy from the duty free to help me out. Scoot’s website actually states that “consumption of outside food and drink is not permitted on board Scoot”, but no one stopped me while I ate my sandwich.
My second priority was entertainment. Like the vast majority of budget airlines, Scoot doesn’t have a built-in entertainment system. Passengers are encouraged to plan ahead and download movies or TV shows and bring laptops or tablets instead.
With my tablet and meal offering in hand, I boarded the plane – a Boeing 787 Dreamliner – and measured out the seat that was going to be my home for the next 12 hours. Although smaller than standard economy long haul seats, they aren’t too bad and not as cramped as a typical Ryanair flight seat, which is what I’m used to in Europe.
After takeoff, I settled in to watch shows I had downloaded and realized that only three-quarters of the plane’s seats were full. I flagged down a cabin crew member, or “Scooties” as the tannoy had called them before takeoff, and checked that there was no problem changing to an empty row .
With a full row of three to myself, I managed to lay down and get a few hours sleep. The cramped makeshift bed was a million miles from the fully reclining business-class beds whose influencers are increasingly sharing reels on Instagram and Tik Tok, but I was grateful for the rest.
For an extra £44 each way you can upgrade to the ‘scoot in silence’ area which is like a quiet car on a train, with no children allowed. Or you can upgrade to one of the 18 Scootplus seats at the front of the plane, where fares start from around £373 with ease.
There’s still no entertainment system in Scootplus and only one (quite bland) meal is included for the entire 12 hours, but the seats are more comfortable and spacious, which certainly helps to get the edge on such a long flight. Scootplus has integrated charging stations, for which you have to pay extra in economy seats. There is also an option to buy wifi on board, but it’s quite slow so I wouldn’t recommend worrying about it.
So the meals weren’t great, but is airplane food always that good? Yes, the seats were a bit cramped, but no more so than on most economy flights. Was it worth it? Yes, completely.
Flying with Scoot made me realize that the frills of a long-haul flight are just nice to have and don’t make much of a difference to the trip. With a little preparation and planning, you can get through theft and save hundreds of pounds.
And the money you save will go a long way in Thailand, where luxury service is incredibly affordable. An hour after getting off the plane, I was in a five-star Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Bangkok, complete with rooftop bar and swimming pool, with luxury service for around £110 a night. Worth every minute of the flight.
In the end, it’s just a bit of discomfort for 12 hours of your life, like most flights, in exchange for what could be an affordable vacation of a lifetime.
How much do Scoot flights to Thailand cost?
Flights from London Gatwick to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport cost from £340 with Scoot. With deals and specials this can be even lower and there is currently availability for week long trips from £295.
This is the price of the flight alone. Up to 20kg of luggage costs an additional £38 each way or luggage with a meal costs an additional £47.