tip off
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Scoot scoops up your small change for connecting at Changi

A secular parable about how Scoot’s $$ Changi connecting flights fee could send an airline broke

Scoot has devised a hitherto unknown ancillary charge to extract dollars from penny conscious budget flyers with a fee of either $SG 16 or $SG 20 for making low fare connections using its flights or Tiger’s at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

You either prepay (cheaper) or pay at the counter to make your connection, or get sent through the border formalities to reclaim your baggage before then coming back through the passport and security checks to check-in for your onward flight.

It isn’t clear yet whether you can avoid this charge if you don’t have checked luggage.

But one can imagine that being rejected from making your connecting flight because you were flying with or without checked luggage and hadn’t coughed up the Changi Connects fee and tried to do what is free for every other airline on the planet, even on Jetstar, might give rise to a rebellion on a similar scale to Ryanair when it proposed to charge a gold coin to use a pay toilet on its 737s in Europe on flights offering unlimited free water.

The really awesome worry for travellers at large is that other carriers, even full service carriers, might invent their own connecting flights fees.

It will work this way.

The ambitious work experience bean counter in let’s say, airline X, works out that on average flights in the past year at airport Y, 20 passengers per flight out of 400 flights per day changed to another flight. So at $10 special connection fee to avoid retrieving and rechecking your bags, with the avoidance of a security check as an added incentive,  airline X might collect on average 20 times $10 ($200) times 400 ($80,000) per day, or roughly $250,000 a month, or $3 million a year, per gateway airport, or say $30 million a year in Australia, of pure skimmed cream.

(Which could be more than the entire Qantas group might make on an overstated under-uber-underlying profit before tax basis in the six months to 31 December this year.)

The kid sells the idea to the board. Gets job. A year later, under administration, the receivers discover the main reason why the airline went down the gurgler, is that the connection fee of $10 caused a critical 10% of price conscious travellers to do something unthinkable, and switch to flying on the competing low cost carrier, not only saving themselves a collective $30 million that the airline expected to harvest with the new ancillary charge, but depriving airline X of $300 million in ticket sales, which meant it just missed its lease and fuel payments, and thus ended its days in a media orgy of live video casts of terminals full of stranded customers watching on as the repo pilots seized the jets and fly them off to Luxembourg or Shannon.

Kid gets real job with Telstra, Optus or your local electricity company, devising new ways to ‘improve’ customer interfacing with billing system.

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  • 1
    StickShaker
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I think I would be quite nervous if I was using this service that I would pay the fee, then pass through Changi enjoying browsing the shops or lounges on the air side only to finally arrive at my destination to discover that my luggage was still sitting on the baggage carousel at Singapore. Scoot would of course apologise and insist that their computer shows the connecting fee wasn’t paid.
    As well as being irritating it opens the door for all sorts of lost luggage nightmares.

    No doubt the other LCC’s will be watching with interest – I hope it doesn’t catch on.

  • 2
    moa999
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    The not-retrieving bags issue… meh… never a customs immigration issue at SIN. I have been out of immigration collected, rechecked and cleared in under 5 min (and that was on Jetstar)

    However the service also offers:
    “No worries: You’ll be put on the next Scoot or Tiger flight, without extra charge, should the connecting flight be delayed.”

    This is worth its weight in gold, particularly as any travel insurance will only cover you for connecting (ie same ticket/PNR flights) and thus is virtually useless for LCCs.

  • 3
    moa999
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Which to take the opposite of the secular parable, actually means that you are far safer flying a Scoot/Scoot or Scoot/Tiger combination, than say Scoot/Jetstar hence driving business towards Scoot/Tiger and away from the competition.

    I think it works where a company controls both airlines (eg. Jetstar/Jetstar) but is probably not so good with other airlines where you run into issues as to who controlled/lost the bag. eg. Qantas will now online interline to QF/JQ/other oneworld carriers if not on same ticket.

    While there are some advantages, one could also see that this is almost the same as increasing checked baggage fees – just look to the US for how well that works – pax carrying the kitchen sink as carry-on

  • 4
    nightflyer
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    This is very naughty because it’s not the individual airline’s staff who do the through checking and baggage retrieval (they are rarely to be seen), but third party contractors who work for the airport authority. In Singapore (for instance), Singapore Airport Terminal Services, SATS. I don’t of course know what they then charge an airline for this facility, but I am sure it’s already built into the ticket as part of the airport departure tax. Just another too-clever-by-half and disingenuous way to turn a buck.

  • 5
    Dwyer
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure JQ already does this, but just doesn’t call it anything.
    I have previously travelled MNL-SIN-MEL on JQ. They offered it as a through fare which was about $100 more expensive than booking 2 separate to tickets. With a 4 hour connection in SIN, I was about to book the two separately, when I noticed Cebu Pacific had an even cheaper MNL-SIN going at the same time. So in the end it was exactly as Ben predicts here – I took the risk an alternative, cheaper carrier, and JQ only made a few bucks on the SIN-MEL leg.

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