Flight Review: Scoot TR981 from Hong Kong to Singapore by Airbus A320neo (Scoot’s First A320neo: 9V-TNA “Chapati Party”)

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Scoot TR981 is Scoot’s evening flight from Hong Kong to Singapore. On most days, Scoot operates 4 – 6 flights in all between Singapore and Hong Kong, and on the day of my flight, this was the last flight out of Hong Kong for the day. My flight was operated by Scoot’s new Airbus A320neo, named Chapati Party and registered 9V-TNA. Scoot currently operates two such aircraft and the Singapore-Hong Kong route is one in which these aircraft are usually assigned on, others being Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, Taipei and Tiruchirappalli.

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The new aircraft was not the only ‘new’ feature of the route. With the upcoming expansion works at Hong Kong International Airport, Terminal 2 is now closed, and all check-ins happen at Terminal 1. Scoot’s check-in counters are thus now located in the new extension of the Terminal, namely, check-in rows K and L located at the Eastern end of the departure hall. Other airlines using these rows include El Al Israel Airlines, VietJet Air and AirAsia.

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Arriving at about 5pm for my 7.15pm flight, lines had formed before the two check-in counters that were open for the flight. According to the boarding information, check-in counters open 2.5 hours before the flight at Hong Kong International Airport. It should be noted that there are no online check-ins available for this flight, and in order to be able to board, you need to strictly meet the check-in counter opening timings, which close 1 hour before the flight. This also explains why there are longer than usual queues at the airport, as every passenger onboard the flight will need to be physically present at the line.

Despite the seemingly long line, I was done in about 15 minutes. Upon reaching the counter, I asked for an aisle seat as is my usual preference only to be told that seats are assigned randomly. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was allocated 28C, an aisle seat indeed. My carry-on bag was tagged with a “cabin bag ok” label at the check-in counter.

With about two hours to go before my flight, I proceeded to have a quick dinner before the restricted area, as the food outside is somewhat cheaper and some of the food courts in the restricted area are still being renovated.

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Upon clearing security and immigration, I proceeded to the Automated People Mover system to reach the Midfield Concourse. Scoot flights always operate from the 200-series gates which are located at the Midfield Concourse. Do not alight at the first stop, but only at the end of the line to reach this area. I highly encourage having your meal before travelling to the Midfield Concourse as there are limited food options here, including a Maxims branch, an Ajisen Ramen, and a LINE Friends café, none of which I find particularly affordable or value-for-money. A food court, or fast food outlet will be a welcome addition to the Midfield Concourse which serves not only short-haul flights but also longer haul flights such as Virgin Australia’s flights to Australia.

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The gate assigned was initially 205, however, this was changed to 201 about an hour prior to departure. Boarding began at 6.45pm and the doors were closed punctually at 7.15pm.

Before boarding, a ground staff approached me, requesting to put one of my carry-on bags into the hold, as the flight would be full. I assented as I was not in a particular hurry to leave the airport upon arrival, and it would mean not having to carry my bag onto and off the plane myself. No additional charges were imposed in this situation.

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My first view of Scoot’s new Airbus A320neo. This is Scoot’s first A320neo, registered as 9V-TNA and christened Chapati Party.

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Boarding the Chapati Party. Unfortunately, no actual chapatis were available for sale on board 9V-TNA or any other Scoot flights for that matter.

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The first row of seats on Scoot’s Airbus A320neo are sold as Stretch seats for an additional fee. These extra legroom seats can be found on the bulkhead row 1 and exit rows 12 and 13 as with other A320 aircraft.

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On this flight, the seats featured Visit Indonesia advertisements on the headrests, which definitely removed from the aesthetic of the otherwise rather minimalistic interior.

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The legroom on board Scoot’s new Airbus A320neo is slightly more generous than the existing Airbus A320s due to the slimmer Recaro seats and moving the literature pocket to the top of the seat, rather than at your knees.

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Take note that rows 11 and 12, located in front of an exit row do not recline, so if you are pre-booking a Stretch seat, make sure to do so on either row 1 or 13 to make your money’s worth.

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Row 13 is an emergency exit row which offers reclining seats.

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The view of the literature pocket in front of my face when seated. The headrest covers continue on the back further advertising a day trip to Batam and Bintan, on top of the Wonderful Indonesia branding.

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The flight was about 90% full.

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Scoot’s Airbus A320neo aircraft can be easily recognized by their new slimline Recaro seats, as well as the presence of an extra row of seats, giving a total of 31 rows. This space was freed-up by relocating toilets to the tail area in the back of the plane.

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The view of the aircraft from my seat.

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The new safety card for the Airbus A320neo. Interestingly, the safety card uses the seat cover pattern of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, rather than the actual shade of grey. You can also tell that this aircraft is used regularly on TR981 thanks to a souvenir a certain “Mao Miang Ming” from “Zhu Hai” left behind.

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The plane departed the gate at 7.20pm and was in the skies in 15 minutes following a rather bumpy take-off through overcast clouds. About 20 minutes into the flight, the cabin crew, also known as Scootees, commenced their meal service – new onboard is a pair of Old Chang Kee curry puffs for S$6 ensuring you get a taste of Singapore even before reaching back. I didn’t see anyone order them, and perhaps a review is in order for the next flight.

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To save space, the toilets on the Airbus A320neo are located right at the rear of the aircraft, beside each other, as compared to the opposing toilets before the rear exit doors on the normal Airbus A320s. One toilet door doubles up as a crew seat to further save space.

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The new toilet design, while a little cramped, remains functional, practical and not overly uncomfortable. Notice that there doesn’t seem to be sufficient space to place the soap bottle on, hmm.

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It was a fairly uneventful 3.5 hours and the plane touched down at Singapore Changi Airport at 11.10pm, 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled arrival. Taxiing into Terminal 1, the aircraft docked at the C pier. This follows Scoot’s recent move to Terminal 1, and other Scoot aircraft can be observed occupying many gates at the C pier.

It was another pleasant Scoot flight, probably my fifth on Scoot on the Singapore – Hong Kong route in the last two years. The flights have been consistently reliable, on-time and comfortable. This has been made better with the introduction of the new A320neo aircraft, whose seats I find marginally more comfortable than on the A320ceo. With some recline and some luck that the neighboring seat is empty, you can be assured of a good rest even on a short flight. As more A320neos arrive and replace older aircraft, Scoot will easily be my preference for short-haul flights around the region.

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