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What’s the Best-Worst Business Class to Japan?

What’s the Best-Worst Business Class to Japan?

On one hand, comparing the “business class” cabins of Scoot vs AirAsia is a crapshoot. Neither low-cost carrier offers a proper business cabin on its flights from Southeast Asia to Japan, in spite of flying new wide body aircraft on these routes.

However, whether you’re thinking of flying Scoot to Japan or are more in the AirAsia X camp, I do think you should read what I have to say. I’ll help you determine which of these carriers is a better value, and how much of an upgrade the “premium” product on each is worth paying.

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Scoot vs AirAsia Flight Schedules

If you’re considering flying Scoot vs Air Asia to Japan, you have plenty of choices. From its home base of Singapore, the airline offers nonstop service to Osaka-Kansai, which it also serves from Bangkok-Don Mueang along with Tokyo-Narita. From Taipei, Scoot flies nonstop to Tokyo-Narita and Sapporo, though the later is on a seasonal basis.

AirAsia X routes to Japan are more numerous, on account of the airline’s multiple-hub strategy. From Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia X flies to Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka and Sapporo while Thai AirAsia X serves Tokyo-Narita, Osaka and Sapporo (on a seasonal basis) nonstop from Bangkok-Don Mueang. AirAsia X also operates services to Japan via Indonesia AirAsia X, which operates CGK-NRT and DPS-NRT non-stops.

Finally, both Scoot and AirAsia X operate flights between Honolulu and Osaka-Kansai. Although some local traffic flies on these routes, they are ostensibly feeder segments for flights between Japan and Kuala Lumpur.

Scoot Business Class vs AirAsia Premium

Scoot business class seats are the same ones you find on regionally-configured Singapore Airlines wide-body aircraft (with the important exception of the 787-10s currently coming online). You might even think of the seats, which are in a 2-3-2 arrangement, as more of a premium economy product, since their recline is nowhere near close to lie-flat.

When you fly AirAsia X business class, meanwhile, as many Air Asia reviews will attest, you’ll enjoy an angle-flat seat that I actually found to provide a better night’s sleep than some of the lie-flat seats on full-service airlines. Unfortunately, the “service” on AirAsia X is even more minimal (if that was possible) for premium passengers than it is for those in economy: My foil-wrapped meal and small bottle of water arrived more than halfway through a seven-hour flight, after the entire 300+ passenger economy cabin had been served.

(I also didn’t like the fact that two small children were in AirAsia business class, and wailed like banshees the entire night without a second of intervention from either of their parents, nor from the flight attendants. This is not AirAsia’s fault per se, but it’s still obnoxious, especially considering that children are banned in the “Quiet Zone” section of economy just behind business.)

Scoot’s service is much better, to be sure, in spite of the similarly poor food and beverage selection. I would even go so far as to say the Scoot cabin crew approached SQ level in terms of their professionalism, though obviously their gaudy yellow uniforms would never fly on a carrier of such prestige.

Somewhat randomly, I received a free WiFi voucher upon boarding in DMK, but the service never ended up working at any point during the ScootBiz flight.

Price of Scoot vs AirAsia Business Class

I’ll admit: The Scoot price is what led me to book a “ScootBiz” seat on my DMK-NRT flight in May, when I visited Koyasan and the Kumano Kodo and was choosing between Scoot or Air Asia. I paid around $200, all-in, for the ticket, which was less than double what I would’ve paid in economy. You get what you pay for in the world, and I suppose I can’t complain about the experience I had given how little it cost me.

The AirAsia price, on the other hand, was quite a bit higher, at more than $300 for my one-way journey from Bangkok-Don Mueang to Sapporo. To be honest, if the food and service had been a touch better (having at least one dedicated flight attendant up front isn’t too much to ask, I don’t think), the nearly-flat seat would’ve justified the high price of the ticket. Alas, I feel like it was too expensive.

Air Asia vs Scoot Planes

My Scoot plane was a Boeing 787-9, which is necessarily quite new (the aircraft type has been in service less than five years), but seemed very weathered on the inside. The 1990s-style configuration of the business class cabin (again, this is exactly the one I’ve flown on the decrepit 777-200s Singapore Airlines flies within Southeast Asia) added to the airplane feeling older than it was.

The AirAsia plane, like all AirAsia X aircraft, was an Airbus A330-300. I generally dislike this plane for a lot of reasons I won’t go into, and the garish red color scheme with which Air Asia X outfits theirs doesn’t help, to say nothing of the cramped and filthy toilets and the condition in which low-cost air travelers tend to leave planes in general.

Scoot vs AirAsia—Which is the Best Low-Cost Business Class to Japan?

When it comes to Scoot vs AirAsia, there’s bad news and there’s worse news, I’m sad to say. While AirAsia X offers nearly-flat seats on its A330 fleet and the service onboard Scoot’s 787-9s is somewhat professional, neither of Asia’s long haul, low-cost carriers (AirAsia vs Scoot) can claim to offer a truly premium experience. Unless you happen upon an exceptional sale (say, $250 one-way or less), I’d say to use miles to book business JAL or ANA, or buy an “extra legroom” seat—and a glass of wine, or two—on Scoot or AirAsia X.


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