Australia to Singapore Scoot 2 for 1 Sale

Posted on: August 22nd, 2014 by: Martin J Cowling

For two days only. Scoot is offering a very cheap way to get to Singapore from Gold Coast,  Perth and Sydney. Flight dates: from today until 30th November.  The first passenger pays fare and taxes and the second passenger only pays taxes. The offer does not apply to their Business Class fares.

In addition, the airline is also taking 15 per cent off the price off Super & Stretch seats which give you 35″ of leg room.

I found good availability looking through October and November. The cheapest price I found from Sydney to Singapore was AUD 646.95 return for two ($US602). Thats $A323.47 each ($US301). The most common roundtrip fare for two is $AUD727.

Note you need to add:

  • seat (a super seat costs around $50 a person for each segment)
  • a bag for $34 each way per person
  • meals and drinks with a light meal combo including drink costing $12 and hot meal combo being around $15

A round trip in a super seat with a hot meal on each flight and sharing a bag cost around $1000 for two people. This compares to $620 per person with Air Asia or around $700 for Malaysia and $750 for Qantas, Malaysia, Emirates and Etihad.

Watch out for Scoot sneakily trying to add travel insurance of $144 per passenger and they charge a $9 per passenger per segment “processing fee” for a Credit Card payment which I find galling.

Bookings have opened from today 22 Aug 2014 until 2359 hrs, 24 Aug 2014  (Australian Eastern time) and can only be made via this page.

140822 scoot

Scoot is Singapore Airline’s low cost subsidiary.   They have a 3 star rating from Skytrax.  Scoot customers give the carrier a rating of 7 out of 10 on Skytrax. My Overall rating of Scoot is 74%.

Related Posts

Scoot crams 375 people into 787


Standing Room Section for Planes? Will it fly?

Posted on: July 9th, 2014 by: Martin J Cowling

A paper published this week concludes that a cabin dedicated to standing only passengers “has a potential to be applied by low-cost airlines servicing short-haul flight markets.

Sounds like just the recipe for Ryanair, Spirit Airlines and Air Asia! It brings a whole new meaning to the term “cattle class“!


F. I. Romli et al in the International Journal of Engineering and Technology, suggest that by installing a “standing seat“, airlines could fit 21 per cent more passengers into a cabin. The distance between seats could be reduced from the usual 30″ to a mere 23″. By removing the overhead bins and placing them on the side, airlines could maximise the number of standing passengers by installing the vertical seats as close to the cabin wall as possible. 


Example of a “standing seat” known as the “Skyrider”

The low cost Chinese carrier Spring Sirlines has considered standing room sections. They have said “one of their motivations was to make the operation of air transportation more flexible and affordable like using the public bus.”

The authors of this week’s study conclude that “the flight ticket price can be reduced by as much as 17% from the currently offered by the low-cost carrier” and for a “full-service airline, the price difference could be as much as 44% lower for certain flight routes“.

The factors that would count against a standing only seat are:

  1. Safety considerations
  2. Passenger comfort
  3. Passenger interest


1. To tackle safety, the authors note that the cabin needs to be evacuated “within the allowable time limits during any emergency cases.” and the “seat” must satisfy design requirements for aircraft seats.

2. The study suggests that the limit for a passenger in this seat would be a three hour flight.

3. The final question is will passengers be attracted to the concept? Jean Medina, spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the US airline industry trade group  said: “Airline customers ultimately determine what works in the market, voting with their wallet every day,…and comfort is high among drivers of their choice.

While researching this post, however, I found a number of polls on websites that asked “Would you stand on a flight for a cheaper airfare?” Overwhelmingly, 70 to 80 percent of respondents said “no“. However, 20 to 30 percent said “yes“. I, know enough backpackers and students who would sacrifice a seat for a hop across Europe, the USA and Asia if it meant saving a few more dollars. Just give them wifi and they would be happy! There may indeed be a market there?

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Not People’s Express…Puh lease

Posted on: June 13th, 2014 by: Martin J Cowling

So it seems the PEOPLExpress name which belonged to a low fare carrier that disappeared in 1987 has been revived. The new PEOPLExpress is selling tickets on its website  for flights starting June 30.

Their hub is Newport News in Virginia, a city of 180 000 people and the airline will offer one daily Boeing 737 service to the cities of Boston, Newark, Pittsburgh and West Palm Beach. 


New People Express flight map

PEOPLEexpress is billing itself as a Low Cost Carrier which will offer better treatment I am not sure what better treatment will look like because almost everything costs:

  • Check in Baggage starts at $20 for the first bag
  • Any Carry-on Bag that you want to put in the overhead locker will cost  $25.00 per Customer
  • Exit row seats cost $25 extra
  • drinks will cost $1 to $2 with free snacks

It sounds very like Spirit Airlines so far – and everyone hates them! Maybe PEOPLExpress will collect the money with a smile?

Flights can only be bought per segment. So if I want to fly from Newark to West Palm Beach, I have to buy two tickets and pay for two lots of luggage fees. United will get me there for $121 non stop and I can take my bag on as hand luggage for free. The same fare on PEOPLExpress will cost me $112 with the stop in Newport News and my hand luggage will cost $50 so the whole package would be a total of $162.

Their choice of hub seems odd. Does anyone remember Skybus, an ultra low cost carrier based in Columbus, Ohio? They didn’t make it to a year – and there are 800 000 people in that city.

Then the airline is called PEOPLExpress but the website is called Not a very logical or easy connection. Why didn’t they just name the airline Flypex? And thats the clincher for me. Why have they revived the PEOPLExpress name?

PEOPLEpress flew from 1981 to 1987 offering ultra low fares which the staff collected on the plane. I was fascinated by them and they certainly captured public attention. Staff were cross functional. Pilots also collected fares and undertook administration. Flight attendants doubled as gate agents and check in clerks. The staff owned shares in the carrier. PEOPLExpress was based in Newark and flew into Europe, Canada and the UK. It became the fifth largest airline in the USA. 

Then they came unstuck. PEOPLExpress was universally nicknamed People’s distress as profits failed to follow growth.

It tried to go upscale by adding First Class and a frequent flyer program before being forcibly sold to Continental.

I don’t understand how or why the new PEOPLExpress want to bring back the old name. No one under 35 is going to connect the two. People over 40 will remember that it is a failed company. The Braniff airlines name has been revived twice as has Pan Am. All have failed.

In summary, PEOPLExpress will fly from one of the smallest metros on the east coast to four destinations once daily using a failed airline’s name. I give them nine months.

Good luck to all who fly with and work with them.


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Jetstar at ten

Posted on: May 24th, 2014 by: Martin J Cowling

I make no secret of my dislike of Jetstar (JQ), the low cost arm of Australian airline Qantas. We have never really bonded. I am not alone according to the complaints on the Don’tflyjetstar website.

Some would say that Jetstar has been then saviour of Qantas and others would say the advancement of the budget carrier has come at the cost of the mainline carrier.

The story started when QANTAS acquired Impulse Airlines, a Newcastle based independent carrier. It took its lessons from that to launch Jetsar in May 2004. The aim was to compete directly with the new low cost carrier Virgin Blue. The Impulse Air Operators Certificate gave Jetstar a head-start. Ironically Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia) has become a full service carrier.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Today Jetstar has 73 planes including four 787s with ten more jets on order. They fly to 35 destinations in seven countries and have Jetstar subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.

Skytrax rates them a three star carrier. I give them a rating of 60 percent. By contrast I give competitors Tiger Airlines Australia 40 percent, Air Asia 58 percent, and Scoot 74 percent.

Tomorrow the carrier turns ten. Undoubtedly, they are here to stay. There are two questions about Jetstar’s next ten years:
1. Who will own them? Will Qantas float them off? Will they end up buying legacy Qantas?
2. Will I grow to like them?

Lets re group in 2024 and see!


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Scoot crams 375 people into 787

Posted on: February 28th, 2014 by: Martin J Cowling

787 scoot

Singapore Airlines subsidiary Scoot two weeks ago announced  that their 787-9 will have a whopping 375 passengers aboard. This number of seats is a far cry from Boeing’s promise of roomy flights with passengers sitting 2-4-2.  Budget airline Jetstar has gone with 335 seats on their 787-8s and Norwegian has 291 seats on theirs.

The budget carrier will receive the first of their twenty 787s in November. The plane will replace their six Boeing 777-200s which were originally flown by Singapore Airlines. The plane will initially fly from Singapore to  Australia, Japan and Taiwan. The airline has orders for ten 787-8s and ten 787-9s. Eight or nine 787s will arrive in 2015. The rest of its 787 order is scheduled for 2016 and 2017.

On the 787-9, Scoot is planning to install 35 ScootBiz (effectively a Premium Economy) seats (configured 2-3-2) at the front.

Source: Scoot

Source: Scoot

The five rows consisting of 45 seats behind ScootBiz will be dedicated to the airline’s Scootin Silence section. The seats in this zone are for passengers over 12 years of age. The seats on the 777s have a more leg room and I assume this will be the same on the 787s. The extra roomy seats will have a 35″ seat pitch.

The rest of the plane will be taken up with 295 seats (also configured 3-3-3) in a regular economy cabin. Most of the seats will be a slimline style with a 31 inch pitch and  headrest.

Scoot also plans to roll out an option called MaxYourSpace which will allow passengers to buy an adjacent  seat, if its is empty. Air Asia offer the same service through their partnership with Optiontown.

The 787-8 will have 340 seats.

There will be AC power sockets and internet access at every seat. Scoot will offer tablets for rental with the option of downloading entertainment,.

In the introductory video from Scoot about their 787, the seats are dancing inside the plane. Not sure why, maybe they are trying to avoid DVT?


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My “Scoot” to Singapore!

Posted on: February 4th, 2014 by: Martin J Cowling


Singapore airline launched Scoot in 2011 as a low cost carrier. I think their intention is to position Scoot between ultra low cost Tiger and regional subsidiary Silk Air. Late last year, Scoot announced an arrangement with Thailand’s Nok air to extend the brand from Thailand so I think Scoot is here to stay for a while.

Scoot has gone with a vibrant youth focused vibe. It feels somewhat more “hip” than its parent. For example, they refer to “cuddly” passengers who they encourage to buy two seats.

Booking: 10 out of 10

Their booking engine (, available in Cantonese,  English, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin) is user friendly, fast and straight forward.  They take what could be a confusing number of choices and options and reduce them to seven steps which I found very easy to move between:

Step One: Passenger selects destination and date

Step Two: Scoot displays all flights and prices for the week across four fare options:

  1. Fly
  2. Flybag
  3. FlybagEat
  4. Scoot biz (their business class cabin) with wider seats, more leg room and included meal. These are not the equivalent of a Qantas, Delta or Malaysian Business class seat


Step three: Passenger data is added. Scoot offers bolt ons including Extra baggage, Entertainment kits, Sleeping kits and Meals. Everything a full service airline used to include!  Scoot also charges for scoot thru which allows a passenger to connect between flights in Singapore. All of the options are cheaper if booked online in advance than on the actual flight.

The thing that impressed me is that none of those options are forced onto the customer. You do not unwittingly proceed to payment with an insurance option chosen. This happens with Air Asia and Ryanair.

I also like Scoot’s very generous 10kg of hand luggage.

Step Four: Seat selection

Selecting a seat ahead of schedule costs:

  1. Standard (a nominal fee of around $US5- Scoot’s economy seats are arranged 3-4-3 configuration which means you risking getting stuck in one of the middle seats if you don’t pre select)
  2. Super (a fee of $US20 to $US30) are located in a special child free section with more leg room. I highly recommend these for their 35″ of leg room and their “private cabin” feel
  3. S-t-r-e-t-c-h ( emergency ecit and bulkhead seats) for an extra $US50 to $us60

Step Five: More Extras: Hotels and rental cars

Step Six: Payment

Here is where I suggest you watch things carefully. On another trip, while searching a fare to Japan, while Scoot started as having the lowest price, with extras such as luggage, meals, and super seating the fare jumped to $400 more than Malaysian Airline’s best fare!

A Confirmation email came quickly.  Scoot then gives you twelve hours in which you can change your date and time and even name for no fee.

Check in: 9 out of 10

Online check in was easy and fast. Check in at the airport opens 180 minutes and they will accommodate you oif you are in the queue 60 minutes before it closes. Scoot offers Early Check-in at Singapore only for a fee of SGD 5 at Scoot’s check-in counters. At Sydney, I was surprised at how mnay people were choosing to check in with luggage at the airport rather than pre check. I was in line for less than two minutes. My hand luggage was weighed and at 7kg was well under their 10kg limit. I had no check in luggage.


Customers at Singapore airport can pay $SG39 for access to the SATS Premier Lounge in Terminal 2 with food, beverages and shower facilities for up to four hours. There was no such facility available at Sydney airport.

Boarding: 9 out of 10

Boarding was stress free. We were warmly welcomed on board by smiling crew.


On Board: 8 out of 10

Image from Seatplan


The plane feels spacious and light. The current Scoot fleet are ex Singapore Airlines craft in very good condition.

Business Class has four rows of eight seats arranged in a  2-4-2 layout. The black leather seats are 22 inches wide and have a 38 inch pitch. There is an AC socket which is shared between every two seats.

Super Seats are yellow, have a 17″ width and a 35″ pitch. They are arranged 3-4-3 but as previously mentioned in a small private child free cabin at the back of Business.  It was a marvellous space to fly in. The yellow was not too garish.

Standard Seats are Blue with Stretch seats highlighted in yellow at the emergency exit rows.

The crew worked very, very hard. They were selling meals, drinks, duty free, entertainment kits etc and maintained a very warm and pleasant demeanour. The cabin manager, had come from Singapore Airlines but the rest of the crew were new to flying.

Lavatories were maintained at a spotless condition for the entire flight.


Entertainment: 5 out of 10

There is no seat-back entertainment system but you can hire portable DVD players or stream material to your own device for a fee. Bring your own laptop or even a book is my advice.


Meals: 3 out of 10

All Scoot meals cost.  Take a look at the selection. Pre ordering is cheaper and if you must buy a meal, recommended. The meals are expensive by Singapore standards. Most were double the price of what I would pay in a hawker’s market or food outlet in Singapore. The portions, however, are smaller than one would expect. The quality was also disappointing. Water was not available on the flights and had to be paid for at a cost of $SG4 per small bottle.  This galls me.


Arrival at the super efficient Singapore Airport was a breeze and I was on the street, no more than 20 minutes after landing.

The Verdict

My Flight Rating: Overall 74% (3.7 out of 5).
My Overall rating of Scoot: 74%  (Tiger gets 27% from me, easyJet 76%, Jetstar 63%)
Skytrax: Scoot has a 3 star rating from Skytrax.Its customers give the carrier a rating of 7 out of 10 which is good for a Low Cost carrier
Positives: Crew,  Website, Super seats
Negatives: Meals, lack of free water, Entertainment
Would I fly them again? Yes

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Singapore ups Low Cost ante


Airlines that vanished in 2013

Posted on: January 3rd, 2014 by: Martin J Cowling

Twenty carriers disappeared in 2013 compared to twenty-six 2012 . Six of them were based in Eastern Europe/former USSR countries.

Most of the carriers were small regional airlines with tiny fleets. Kingfisher of India was only one carrier that could have been considered major, although it has been some time since they were India’s largest airline.

Nearly all of the airlinest that vanished are young but a few Evergreen, JAT, OLT Express and Ryan International are old names in the airline game.

I thought Air Zimbabwe would finally vanish but they managed to get enough aid from an impoverished government to re start some domestic flights and a daily Harare to Johannesburg service.

One airline that collapsed and returned was Russia’s Red Wings after a spectacular crash at Moscow airport . Grounded on 4 February, 2103 because they lacked the financial resources to provide ongoing operations while maintaining a high level of safety, they came back again June 2013 after being sold for a symbolic one rouble to new owners. Hope their safety has improved. See Red Wings Wingless.

In 2014, I expect B & H to collapse. I wonder how Fastjet will survive and how long Virgin America can plough through cash? Despite all logic, Alitalia will probably make it through the year!

This year’s list of vanished airlines is in alphabetical order below. I have not flown any of the carriers that vanished this year. Last years list can be found here.




Ukraine: 25 March 1994 to April, 2013

Fleet: 4 (at collapse),

Destinations: 12 (at collapse), 72 (at peak)

Aerosvit entered bankruptcy in late December, 2012 stranding passengers around the world. The airline attempted to re-start through January before handing most of their fleet back to lessors in february and finally ceasing to exist in April. Most of their operations were absorbed by Ukraine International Airlines.

Related Posts:

Aerosvit Zero


Air Asia Japan

airasia_japan_logo-200x Japan: August 2012 to October 2013
Fleet: 5
Destinations: 7

This joint venture between Malaysia’s AirAsia (33%) and Japan’s All Nippon Airways (66%) failed to meet passenger volumes. One of the factors for this was, bizarrely, that the Air Asia online booking system was not fully translated into Japanese. It was therefore unusable for many domestic customers. In addition, Japanese fliers remain wedded to travel agents for domestic bookings and Air Asia eschews agents. There also appeared to be difficulty in the relationship between ANA and Air Asia.

Air Asia Japan still exists in a form. It was rebranded as “Vanilla Air” under full ownership of ANA. The carrier is focussing on “resort destinations”. With ANA already owning an other low cost carrier Peach, it will be interesting to see how long Vanilla lasts. Vanilla Peach anyone?




Armenia: March 29, 2013
Fleet: 7
Destinations: 35

After almost two years of speculation and threats by Armavia’s owner to shut the carrier down, the airline finally succumbed to economic reality.

The airline is the third Armenian carrier to go after Armenian Airlines collapsed in 2003 and Armeninan International merged with Armavia in 2005.

In the post bankruptcy discussions, the collapse was blamed on poor management, high airfares, insufficient government support and bizarrely Armavia’s monopoly position!

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Augsburg Airways

Germany: 1980 to 31 October, 2013

Fleet: 15

Destinations: 35

Staff: 450

Augsburg Airways flew routes on behalf of Lufthansa Regional from 2000. Lufthansa announced the termination of its contract with Augsburg Airways in October, 2012. The last flight by Augsburg Airways under the Lufthansa Regional brand took place on 26 October 2013 and the carrier shut down days later.


Bahrain Air

Bahrain: 3 February 2008 to 12 February 2013

Fleet size: 4

Destinations: 17

Takes a brave company to launch a discount carrier in a country which already has a major loss making airline. Bahrain already had Gulf Air who operate empty aircraft at a hefty financial cost. After failing to succeed as a LCC, Bahrain air became a full service carrier. They collapsed blaming the politcial situation in the Gulf state. Poor business planning and a non existent market may have been more of the reality.


Indonesia: 2002 to January 31, 2013
Fleet: 34
Destinations: 48

At one point, Air Asia was looking at taking over Batavia and merging it with Air Asia Indonesia. That deal fell through in 2012. Batavia was declared bankrupt by the Indonesia court system last year, after it failed to make lease payments. Six airlines planned to take over the Batavia network.

Belle Air

20140102-112641.jpgAlbania: 2005 to 24 Nov 2013

Fleet: 7
Destinations: 24
Employees: 420

On November 12, the company announced “Belle Air is obliged to temporarily suspend its operations due to the general economic situation, the decline of the purchasing power, recession in the markets it operates as well as from the freezing for over 18 days of its bank accounts.”

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Belle Air Europe

Kosovo: 2009 to 25 Nov 2013
Fleet: 2
Destinations: 14
Belle Air Europe announced on November 26 that operations would continue as normal but then suspended all flights the next day.

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Chathams international

Tonga: 2007 to 2 March, 2013

Fleet: 5

Staff: 54

Air Chathams operates services from New Zealand to the Chathams, an archipelago 680km (400 miles) east of New Zealand. In 2007, with the blessing of the Tongan government, they launched into the Tongan market. They were the 11th airline to try and break into the market.

In early, 2013, the Tongan government were given a MA60 (50-seater) aircraft by China which they leased to a new airline called Real Tonga. The government promised a ten percent reduction in fares.

Air Chathams then shut down Chathams Pacific believing it could not compete in the tiny market.


Dutch Antilles Express

FlyDAE aircraft with DAE logo

Curaco: April 30, 2005 to August 30,2005
Fleet: 8
Destinations: 10

Nationalisation of the airline in 2011 did nothing to prevent the carrier running out of cash. Unable to pay its bills, it was shut out of its own home airport. Bankruptcy followed when the government cut its cash.


Evergreen International


USA: November 28, 1975 to December 31, 2013

Evergreen planes always intrigued me. An slmkst entirely 747 carrier in the last two decades, they flew more “confidential” missions for Uncle Sam

The airline was mooted to close at the end of November a charge the carrier denied. December 31 the threat came true and seven associated companies went into liquidation.

The 89 year old founder and owner Delford Smith of the airline also owns Evergreen Air Museum which seems to have not been affected by the closure.


Fly Non Stop

Norway: April 25th, 2013 to October 29th, 2013

Fleet: 1

Destinations: 17


This airline’s short history was the result of a combination of the founder’s lack of airline experience, a lack of sufficient cash and a poor business plan. The airline’s business model was based on flying non stop services on haphazard timetable pattern from a small regional town north of the Arctic circle to 17 European destinations. Unsurprisingly, a passenger market never emerged and the owner’s cash vanished.

Related Posts:

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Serbia: April 1st 1947 to October 1st, 2013

Fleet: 7

Jugoslovenski Aerotransport (JAT) was very successful carrying millions of passengers through Belgrade on a mainly jet fleet until the 1990s. Sanctions and war crippled the carrier and it never fully recovered. They changed their name to Jat Airways on 8 August 2003. The government of Serbia then unsuccessfully tried to privatize Jat Airways in 2008 and 2011 before approaching Etihad in March 2013. Etihad took a 51% stake and renamed the carrier Air Serbia.

Related Posts:

Etihad takes on JAT



India: 9 May 2005 to February, 2013 (licence revoked)
Fleet: 6 (at close) 64 (at peak)
Destinations: 25 (at close) 60 (at peak)
Employees: 5696

Kingfisher, backed by the largest brewery in India, a five star Skytrax airline and on track to be a member of One World, lost money from day one. The situation became critical through 2012 with the slow death of the carrier becoming almost a tragic soap opera. Planes were grounded, bank accounts frozen, litigation over unpaid taxes and employees on a hunger strike. Still the airline’s CEO continued to promise a bright future until the Indian government finally cancelled Kingfisher’s operating licence.

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Germany: 2009 to January 29, 2013.

Fleet: 13

OLT Express was founded in 1958. It took over part of the insolvent Cirrus Airlines in 2012. In December 2012, after losing two international contracts, OLT Express Germany announced major cuts to its network, staffing and fleet as part of a reorganisation. It ceased all operations on 27 January 2013 after talks with its Dutch owner Panta Holdings about a reorganisation plan failed. The company filed for bankruptcy on January 29.

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Pet Airways

Florida: 2009-2013
Fleet: 0
Destinations: 14

The carrier ran out of cash and completely ceased this year after not flying most of 2012.

RAK Airways

UAE: 2007 to 2009 then 2010 to 31 December, 2013.

Fleet size: 2

Destinations: 11

RAk was the national airline of Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven United Arab Emirate states. It attempted to be a “value for money” carrier, positioned between Low Cost and full service carrier. In a statement, the company said: “The decision for suspending operations was taken following increased pressures on the carrier’s performance due to continuous market conditions, increased operating costs and the impact of the regional political instability on the overall aviation industry.” I am not sure the UAE has room for more airlines?


Ryan International (not Ryanair of Ireland)

USA: 1972 to January 11, 2013

A charter carrier, Ryan International has been struggling through 2012 before finally succumbing to market forces in 2013.


Tartarstan Airlines

Tatarstan, Russia: 1999 to December 31, 2013

Fleet: 9

Destinations: 13

Following the crash of one of their 737s in November killing 50 including the son of the Tatarstan president and the the head of Tatarstan’s Federal Security Service regional office. A Russian government investigation found violations in established flight norms, working hours and rest periods for the flight crew and qualification standards of the crew. Enough to close them!


Tulpar Air

Tatarstan, Russia: 2004 to December 25, 2013

Fleet: 13

Destinations: 9

Tulpar Air was nominated Russia’s least punctual airline with in 2010 with 21% of flights delayed! Following the Tatarstan crash, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsiya, reported that the Air Operator Certificate of Tulpar Air has been revoked due to safety issues.

Rating US airlines

Posted on: May 31st, 2013 by: Martin J Cowling

As a regular flier, I like to rate who I fly with. I am not alone. Over 16,000 readers of Consumer Reports magazine reviewed 31,732 US domestic flights in February, 2013 for the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

The carriers were rated by the readers on six dimensions:

1. Ease of check-in
2. Friendliness and responsiveness of cabin crew
3. Cabin cleanliness
4. Baggage handling
5. Seating comfort
6. In-flight entertainment

The results were not a huge surprise as to where the eleven US carriers ranked. The ranking was very close to my own assessments for 2012. My ordering was slightly different. For example, I put JetBlue as my number one rated US airline last year, although I dearly love Virgin America too.
[table “3” not found /]

I am interested that the airlines’ booking systems were not rated. Thats an important consideration for me as is on-board catering. This is of course, almost non existent in the US but I still like to have some sense of how good the food is that the carrier is selling.

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Poorly Maintained Red Wings Wingless

Posted on: February 7th, 2013 by: Martin J Cowling

Red Wings was founded in 1999 as  VARZ-400. It aimed to be a discount airline.  It became Airlines 400 in 2001 and then adopted their current name Red Wings in 2007.

The airline owned ten Tupolev TI 204-100B, passenger jets capable of flying 210 passengers.

On December 29, 2012, one of their planes crashed in Moscow overshooting the runway and ending up on a highway. killing five crew. Faulty brakes were found to be the cause. This was the second overshoot for the carrier.

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsiya  held a series of unscheduled operational and maintenance inspections of Red Wings from 10 to 16 January 2013 The Agency found  significant violations across the carrier. Flight operations, aircraft maintenance and pilot training were all discovered to have shortcomings.

Rosaviatsiya suspended the operator on February 4 because of safety issues. They noted that Red Wings lacked the financial resources to provide ongoing operations while maintaining a high level of safety. A somewhat scary assessment. The airline had already ceased flying and had announced there would be no attempt to revive the carrier.



Aer Lingus: Budapest to Dublin (updated)

Posted on: November 27th, 2012 by: Martin J Cowling



Aer Lingus is the flag carrier and second biggest airline in Ireland. Operating since 1936, its name an Anglicisation of the Gaelic Aer Loingeas means “air fleet” .

A lot has changed for Aer Lingus in the last six years not the least being the Irish economic situation. The government reduced its 85 per cent stake to 25 percent through a listing on the Stock Exchange in 2006. Ryanair, arch rival and biggest Irish airline has now picked up close to 30 percent and attempted three takeover bids in five years.Abu Dhabi-based and owned Etihad Airways acquired 3 percent in May-2012.

Aer Lingus operates a “hybrid model” here they compete as a Low Cost Carrier on European flights and operate as a full service carrier on North American flights. Aer Lingus moved out of One World but continued some relationships with One World carriers. Ryanair claims that since privatisation, Aer Lingus cumulative after tax losses are 91 million Euro and Ryanair’s profits have been over two billion Euro.


Booking: 5 out of 10 has to be one of the most cumbersome booking systems I have ever encountered.  It took seven screens from enquiry to completion. On the plus side, there are very good explanations for each step.

One frustration I had, was that Aer Lingus quoted everything in Hungarian Forints (HUF). Yes, this is the currency of Hungary but I don’t use Forints very often.  I have no reference point to understand fares in Forints.    There seemed to be no option on their website (unlike many other airlines) to switch currencies. I  used  to understand the costs of luggage and seats etc. For example 1600 Forints is meaningless to me but 5.66 Euros or USD 7.35 makes sense.

Aer Lingus offer three types of fares. For this 1,916 kilometre, three hour  flight the options and fares for the same Economy seat were (rounded to nearest dollar):

  • Low:  Free Check-in and Assigned Seating (a dig at rival Ryanair who charge for check in and to get an assigned seat) $US91
  • Plus: 1 checked bag, Free Seat Selection, Gold Circle Points  $115
  • Flex: 2 checked bags, Full flexibility, Lounge access, $142 Refundable ticket

Aer Lingus have an option where you can hold the flight for around 5 Euros/7 Dollars. If you proceed with the booking within 24 hours, that money is deducted off your fare. Handy way to lock in a fare or a handy way for Aer Lingus to make more Euros?

In many ways, Aer Lingus is repeating the Ryanair model of charging for every extra possible:

  • an admin fee of around seven dollars for my Credit Card. I imagine their actual processing cost would be closer to one dollar.
  • an extra $US 1.40 for a SMS confirmation of my flight- Seeing that would cost the airline a few cents to do, here is another way of making easy money for the airline
  • an extra $18.37 for a 20kg bag.
  •  $5.51 for seat selection or $11.70 for an emergency exit seat

I found it important to do some research here because cheapest was not always the better option:

  • For a customer who chose the Low fare, accepted what ever seat and turned down SMS confirmation would pay around $US98 for Budapest to Dublin.
  • A customer on the same fare with one bag and making the choice of a seat would pay $121.88 which is more than the Plus price which includes those features and gives you frequent flyer points.
  • The same passenger on the same Low Fare wanting to choose their seat and carrying two bags would pay $133. For a mere $10 more, you could purchase the airline’s Flex fare for $142 and get Lounge access, full flexibility and frequent flyer points.

Buyer beware!

 Check In: 7 out of 10

I thought the Aer Lingus online check in system to be very “clunky”. I still needed to see an agent at the airport to sight travel documents. Check in was a little slow. Three passengers ahead of me had to repack their bags as they were over the regulation 20kilos. Instead of stepping to the side to do it and letting the agent serve others, they removed items at the counter. It is all a joke really because the person then wore the item removed from the luggage or put it in their carry-on. My check in agent was very pleasant and friendly. No questions were asked of my hand luggage.

Security was thorough and very structured with agents actively helping each customer with their computers, liquids etc

Boarding: 8 out of 10

The incoming plane was late. Boarding did not start until well after departure time. No announcement was made to advise us of the situation or to apologise.

When boarding commenced, the boarding area became a bit of melee with multiple lines cutting across each other. Despite specific rows being called, that did not actually matter.

I got the warmest welcome in lilting Irish tones from three of the cabin crew. If there is one way that Aer Lingus and Ryanair would differ, this would be it. I find the Ryanair greeting non existent or surly. The welcome was so warm, it made up for the lateness.

As I chatted to the flight attendant standing near my seat, I asked her if there any pain killers on board as I had an aching tooth. She got some for me before takeoff and brought them down to me (in exchange for my name and address to satisfy regulations). She did not charge me for the water! :)

On Board: 6 out of 10

The 174 Economy seats on the Aer Lingus A320 have a pitch of 30″ and a width of 18″.  My emergency exit seat had more room but not a huge amount more. Ryanair have the same pitch on their 737s but an inch less width on ever seat. Aer Lingus seats recline- whereas Ryanair’s don’t. The interior looked tired and didn’t grab me.

Meals: 4 out of 10

Aer Lingus sold a selection of snacks, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks on this flight. I wanted the chicken sandwich but the last one was sold to a gentleman a row ahead of me! Not wanting a BLT or a “Toastie”, I opted for a Snack Pack. Aer Lingus make a big deal that they sell the Irish Independent newspaper on board. Service was very warm and friendly.

Entertainment: 0 out 10

There was the window to look out of or sleeping. No wifi.


We landed a little late. Passport control was swift and I was in Dublin after a short ride.


The Verdict

My rating: Overall 62% (3.1 out of 5)- my overall rating of Aer Lingus based on my  previous flights is: 3.0 out of 5. I think the friendly welcome boosted this score. By comparison, I also give Ryanair 3 out of 5.

Skytrax Rating of Aer Lingus: 3 star

Positives:   Friendly staff

Negatives: Entertainment system, lack of wifi, booking system, check in

Would I fly them again?  Yes- it was okay


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