I’m flying to Guangzhou on Scoot (or am I?)

When I read the first notification on my phone this morning, I almost jumped out of bed. The notification had the details of my next flight to… Guangzhou…from Singapore! In four days! On Scoot!  The romantic in me rose from slumber. I am to take to the skies again, I muttered to myself, still half-asleep.

The email’s subject had a bit of urgency to it. It told me that I needed a negative COVID-19 certificate to board my flight to Guangzhou on Sunday morning.

Wait, who booked the flight? Who cares? I can barely lift my eyelids, and the email says I need to get tested before my trip!

Where do I need to get tested? Ah! Jurong. When? Tomorrow! Ok! I’d need to take Bus number 15 to Eunos and then change to bus number 506 then walk a bit to get to the testing centre at Shuqun Secondary School. The total journey would be just over an hour. I should get there early to avoid the crowd, so I’d plan on leaving around 7.30 am.

For this “nucleic acid test” (NAT), I’d need my passport and a printout of this itinerary. No problem. I’ll have that sorted. The test would cost $186, which seemed more than the last time I paid Scoot for a ticket. But since it needs to be done, I didn’t think much about it. Nor was I rushing to check my credit card bill for any fraudulent use. I was luxuriating in the feeling of having an upcoming flight after a long time.

A few minutes later, another notification popped up on my phone, this time from Twitter. Mr Brown too was flying to Guangzhou on the same flight and had asked for a meetup. A social-distancing meet up – perhaps right after getting tested? I’m in! Maybe I’d take a half-day off from work for the early reporting for the test and then the meetup afterwards.

Alas, I was shaken from my fantasy and was brought back to reality.

Like the father of the bride who decided to call off the wedding, I received an email from Campbell Wilson a few hours later, shattering the dream of my next flight.

Campbell, the CEO of Scoot, said that the email I received earlier had been, “mistakenly sent to a distribution list containing customers who have travelled with Scoot in the past, or who have a future booking to any destination.”


Everyone who had ever flown with Scoot or had a future booking received that email to get tested ahead of the flight to Guangzhou. Not just over 200 people. Everyone. Including me (and Mr Brown!)

Alas, I wasn’t going to fly to Guangzhou after all.

I wouldn’t be going to Jurong for the testing tomorrow.

Heck, I’m not even in Singapore right now to go for the testing tomorrow!

For a while, it all sounded too good to be true.

And it was.

Campbell, you broke my heart!

P.S: Those of you who know me personally know how much I look forward to flying. From booking the flights to boarding the plane to the flight itself. I have jet fuel running through my veins. The email from Scoot this morning gave me a brief rush I’d been missing for the past few months. The emails from Scoot were missing the typical Scootitude, so I thought I’d add my two cents 🙂

P.P.S: On a more serious note, as you can tell, flying will be different. Testing before travel is becoming the norm if we are to avoid being quarantined. SimpliFlying has launched a monthly briefing on how airlines can restore trust in travel. The first briefing is on getting testing right, on Sep 3. Sign up now.


Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is the Founder and CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s largest aviation marketing firms working with over 85 aviation clients in the last ten years. Nigam is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior executives globally, from Chile to China. Nigam’s impassioned and honest perspectives on airline marketing have found their way to over 100 leading media outlets, including the BBC, CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, and into leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He writes a dedicated monthly column in Flight’s Airline Business, challenging the typical assumptions about airline marketing. His new book on airline marketing, SOAR, is an Amazon bestseller that’s shaking up the industry and inspiring other industries to learn from the best airlines. Born in India, raised in Singapore, he now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Toronto.
Shashank Nigam
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