Scoot CEO Apologizes For Riot & Flight Delay… Sort Of

Over the weekend I posted about the story of a seriously delayed Scoot flight between Singapore and Perth, which resulted in a near riot at the departure gate. The flight was delayed by over 22 hours due to a combination of factors (including a mechanical problem), though Scoot got a lot of criticism for the way they handled this:

  • Scoot didn’t offer passengers hotel accommodation for the overnight delay
  • Even worse, the way Scoot communicated with passengers seemed to be terrible, as they had a single contract worker at the gate to tell passengers to bugger off, even though Singapore is their hub

Here’s one of the videos which was posted of the near riot at the gate:

I felt bad for the passengers, though also felt bad for the single contract worker Scoot assigned to be the scapegoat.

Well, now that this story has gone sort of viral, Scoot’s CEO has addressed the situation on the airline’s Facebook page:

Scoot deeply regrets disruption to guests affected by the flight delays over the weekend. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to their travel plans.

The principal cause of the disruption was a technical fault experienced upon arrival of TZ220 at Hong Kong on Friday morning. Initial attempts to resolve the issue failed and, ultimately, a spare part and team of engineers had to be dispatched from Singapore.

With a small fleet and one aircraft out of action in Hong Kong a number of flights were rescheduled, including Saturday’s TZ8 from Singapore to Perth. During checks prior to this flight, a tyre issue was detected requiring a wheel to be changed, a process that took three hours. Regrettably, this new delay meant that the operating crew could not complete the flight in their legal duty time and were obliged to stand down but, because of earlier rescheduling of flights, no standby crew were available. Consequently, TZ8 was delayed overnight until a new, rested crew was available.

The safe operation of our airline is paramount and will not be compromised. Occasional technical issues nonetheless happen, to any airline, and the smaller the fleet, the larger the effect on schedules. As Scoot’s fleet grows from 6 to 11 aircraft this year our ability to absorb such events will significantly improve but, even so, Scoot is also reviewing the handling of these two flights to refine our processes and procedures.

As readers will be aware, Scoot has never shied away from the fact that low airfares come with a quid pro quo, which is that hotel accommodation is not assured in the rare event of disruption, and that travel insurance is highly recommended. These conditions are made known to and are acknowledged by every passenger at the time of booking. Notwithstanding, Scoot elected to provide hotel accommodation in Hong Kong to passengers on TZ221 and lounge access and F&B vouchers at Changi Airport to those on TZ8. Over the next 24 hours, Scoot will be reaching out to guests on the two affected flights with compensation vouchers over and above the Guest Promise stated on our website as an indication of our regret.

We again apologize to those affected, assure them that their safety was at the core of our actions at all times, and commit that we will learn from this experience.

Campbell Wilson,
Chief Executive Officer

First of all, kudos to the CEO for addressing the situation, even if it’s not exactly an apology he’s issuing. And I actually learned something new, as I hadn’t realized ultra-low cost carriers don’t take any responsibility for mechanical delays. Most airlines will cover hotels for you when there’s an overnight delay even if it’s not within their control.

How transparent is Scoot about explaining they don’t cover your hotel in the event of a flight cancellation?

As the CEO states, they do indeed have an upsell offer for travel insurance, as one of the 654 upsells you’re offered during the booking process.

Scoot-Travel-Insurance

But really the only reference to them not covering hotels is on the purchase page, where they list the terms and conditions.

Scoot-COC

That links to the contract of carriage, which in part reads as follows (bolding mine):

9.3 – DELAYED/ CANCELLED FLIGHTS (CONTROLLABLE CIRCUMSTANCES) In the event that a Scoot flight is delayed or cancelled less than 24 hours before departure, we will try our best to put you on the next available Scoot flight between the same origin and destination as soon as possible, at no additional cost. You may also be entitled to compensation per the Scoot Promise. Unless provided for in a Convention or applicable law, we will not be responsible for paying any costs or expenses you may incur as a result of the controllable delay or cancellation. We strongly recommend you carry comprehensive travel insurance throughout your travels.

So technically they are transparent about it, though only if you’re one of the people who reads the dozens of pages you agree to when you purchase airline tickets, including the contract of carriage, fare rules, etc.

Yes, I learned something here. I didn’t realize that airlines like Scoot don’t accommodate passengers in the event of mechanicals, and it sounds like most passengers didn’t know either.

But it doesn’t address what I see as the real failure in all this, which the CEO didn’t address. Scoot, at their hub in Singapore, sent a single contract worker to a gate after they had already been delayed all day to inform them they were out of luck. Whether you’re a low cost carrier or not, that’s not how you communicate with your passengers. Couldn’t they have sent an actual Scoot employee to clearly explain the situation to passengers? That person could have at least made an effort to explain that as part of being a low cost carrier and offering ultra low fares, these things aren’t covered.

I was infuriated when I saw the video, so I can only imagine how passengers felt. A little bit of communication goes a long way in that regard.

What do you make of Scoot’s CEO “apologizing?” And did you realize some low cost carriers don’t cover your hotels in the event of a mechanical delay?

(Tip of the hat to Jim)

Comments

  1. I would have thought this does damage to the overall Singapore Airlines brand, no? It’s hard to believe that a company with such a good reputation would allow their subsidiary to do business in this way.

  2. You get what you pay for – enough said really.

    And it’s the consumer’s responsibility to read what they agree too. If a passenger didn’t know about the hotel issue then it’s no ones fault but their own

    Scoot are a low cost service and as such, one employee is minimum requirement for such an issue. Dont expect more treatment than you pay for

  3. And you will realised that LCCs like Scoot in this region, with T&Cs written in such manner, can simply cancel flights (especially if they have a light load) and merge with the next flight (which might be the next day), to save cost.

    There is no cost to them in cancelling a flight, as they do not even need to look after your lodgings (it is the role of the insurers – that is what they are pushing it to).

    Hard to fly with Scoot, based on such attitudes.

    Is that an apology? Or confirmation of brand damage?
    If I am on SIA board, I will be asking questions.

  4. In my experience, Scoot has always been a terrible airline, even among their low cost carrier competitors.

    I don’t think Singapore Airlines reputation will be tarnished by the incompetence of its budget airlines subsidiaries. They are completely separate entities. Many years ago, Tiger Airways (40% owned by Singapore Airlines) used to be a terrible budget airline too, just like Scoot now. I don’t recall Singapore Airlines ever going out of their way to help them. They managed to turn around on their own after many years.

  5. ‘RIOT’? Seriously? That’s a ridiculous way to describe the passengers here. Yes, they are upset. Yes, they are expressing this. But seriously, this doesn’t even rise to a ‘peaceful demonstration’. I’m bristling because describing this as a ‘riot’ allows the airline to deflect attention from the real problem: abysmal customer service.

  6. Scoot has nothing to apologise for. You get what you pay for. If you can’t be bothered to read the terms and conditions of carriage, which do form the contract you have with the airline, before you book that is your funeral.

  7. Agree, communication style, i.e. clarity, annunciation, pronunciation was limp, feeble, which only agitates the mob at the gate. In such situations it really does zip to get overheated as it isn’t going to get the plane on the runway. Best to cut ones losses as a lesson learnt and quietly make other arrangements to fly out or go with the flow and show up the next morning. Avoid such rock-bottom budget carriers like the plague. Happy travels!

  8. @ takke — In theory, though I think they separate the brands enough so that it doesn’t really hurt them.

  9. @Bill and @Al

    I have to disagree with you. You blame the consumers for not reading lengthy Contracts of Carriage which I would venture to say are not read by 99% of the flying public, whether a low cost carrier or not.

    With something as important as this, the carrier must make a better effort to make important issues obvious. Otherwise, burying them in boilerplate provisions that are not read is a misleading and deceptive practice.

    Ben — Do you think all flyers should read the contract of carriage for every airline they fly?

    And if so, should they re-read it before every single flight to see what changes the airline may have made since they read it last?

    I would suggest that this would be somewhat unreasonable and burdensome, although from this Scoot event we have learned that you can’t trust low cost carriers and if you want to learn your rights (or lack of rights) you will definitely have to read the contract of carriage.

  10. Looks like a pretty fair statement. At the end of the day, you should realize that you can’t expect the service of a full-service when you elect to pay and fly budget.

  11. I’m rather astonished by the number of LCC apologists commenting here and on the preceding posts.

  12. I’m a little amazed that anyone would expect an LCC to cover a hotel. Especially when most of them strongly push travel insurance at purchase that specifically covers for canceled/delayed flights. Wouldn’t this kind of be the same situation as someone declining to pay for a checked bag at purchase and then being upset at check-in to discover there is a checked bag charge because when they fly non-LCC they always get checked bags for free?

  13. And to further explain, I think it would be fair to expect better when you fly a full service, even if you’re not paying much, like deep discounted tickets, mistake fares, award flights etc. However, in this case passengers elect to fly scoot and drop the services they deem useless, eg ground personnel who are ready to hold their hands in this kind of situation, so that they save airline the cost of operating those services, which are then reflected on their fare. This is a conscious choice.

  14. Am I reading it correctly that the travel insurance only kicks in with delays at overseas airports, i. E. Not at the airport where your round-trip begins?
    So good luck if you’re based in europe/USA and book a scoot flight as part of an Asian vacation.

  15. The fact that they did not provide accomodation isnt the problem here, its the fact that they sent a single contract worker, at their hub and base of operations in Singapore, to deal with the passengers. If you were flying that day, and You had your flight delayed without a clear explanation, forced to wait for over 20 hours, yptrust me, youd be pissed too.

  16. Some (most ?) higher end credit cards include travel delay compensation/ allowance when the ticket is bought w the card. My Amex card does after a four hour delay.

  17. Behaviour like this is invititing more regulations – something the airline industry is fighting against so strongly but without any willingness to show any kind of common sense. I have made very negative experiences with Silkair as well – where they refused to rebook me on other flights that where available. All the SQ subsidiaries have business practices that have a lot of room for improvements.

  18. Last year I purchased a “business class” ticket from Perth to Hong Kong. I was notified by email 48 hours before departure that the flight was delayed by 5 hours, putting me out for the onward flight to Hong Kong. It was only because I’d read the terms and conditions that I knew to phone them and organize the first flight out the next morning, and to book a night of cheap accommodation at the Tune Hotel (which was actually a lot better than I was expecting).
    Thankfully I actually had taken the time to read the T&C’s.

  19. Great old saying – “Don’t hate the Player hate the game..”
    I’ve flown the Scoot 787 PER-SG , SG-PER (aka “Barry”) exclusively 6 times in 2015 and it surpasses
    both VA and QF offer Had and Soft products domestically here in aust in fact streets ahead
    Q are now copying Scoot with “bid for ugrade” , the aircraft is perfect in my eyes and highly recommend Air-asia for the budget savvy traveller
    simple – pay for more on SQ or Q. Q are running the 717; Ex HOB-SYD on PER-SG which Joyce is bringing back after fuel price issues for twice the price of what Scoot can do
    As there are checks and balances in place best be taken care of than a Catastrophic Hull Failure … wouldn’t one think ?

  20. Where are the Australian & Singaporean consumer protection agencies ? There are laws in both jurisdictions that protect the consumer from the behaviors of Scoot. The sickening disregard for customers by this airline runs unchecked in two of its key markets.

    Comments like “you get what you pay for” are simply ignorant! Yes, consumers should get what they PAY FOR !

    For the record Scoot is not cheap anymore Q and BA are regularly cheaper. Scoot just behave cheaply.

  21. Looks like this is not the first and not the last time for Scoot……flight from HK to PER transit in SIN delay for 10 hours already and still no confirmation when the passengers can start boarding.

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