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Flight Review: Onboard Vietnam Airlines to Ho Chi Minh City

Where: Vietnam
May 3, 2013 at 9:59 AM | by | Comments (2)

As you can probably tell from our slew of stories on Ho Chi Minh City, we recently traveled to Vietnam. One of the many ways to fly into the country, and the way in which we arrived, is via the green-blue hued planes of the national airline, Vietnam Airlines. Our route had us hopping on at Melbourne to fly nonstop to Ho Chi Minh City and we booked Business Class for a vacation treat.

At first, we considered using the 8.5-hour flight to relax and perhaps nap before what would be a two-week adventure in Southeast Asia, but the airline had a better idea; the flight crew fed us until we were stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Here's a breakdown of what we loved and what we could have done without:

What We Loved

· The uniforms. Each of the female cabin crew sported a deep red áo dài with a clean white silk pant underneath and a cropped jacket for boarding. Lovely and traditional, versus blending in with flight crews of the world.
· Super prompt pushback. We don't know if this breaks any laws, but the safety PA was played on the TV without the demonstration which allowed for a speedy get-away to the runway.
· The food. So. Much. Food. We started with an amuse-bouche, then soup, salad, appetizer, main and multiple trays of fruit, cheese and a delicious brandied-fig ice cream to follow. The food just kept coming and there were two meals in total. Furthermore, everything that we ate was actually pretty tasty.
· The drinks. Along the same lines with the food, the menu for cocktails was ample and featured fun libations like a Cuba Libre, Tropical Sunrise and a Gin Fizz.
· The seat. Although it was not a fully-flat seat, the angle was just perfect for our 5-foot 8-inch frame to get really comfy and sleep for about four hours in what would be our middle of the day.
· Entertainment system. A personal touchscreen loaded with movies, TV, games and music all ready to be enjoyed on-demand with the provided pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
· Lavatory amenities. The business lavatory was all kitted out with lotions and potions to ensure passenger comfort during the flight. We even got to shave with one of the shave kits.
· The cabin. The use of different colored lighting to ease us into sleep or wake us up from a nap was nice; we've never seen the fire orange color and it was actually pretty calming.

What We Didn't Love So Much:

· Temperature. The cabin was left way too hot! We woke up from a sleep almost soaked in sweat and thought it might be just the particular crew, but even the return flight was too warm.
· Service. A bit confusing and not really engaging. We never felt that we could joke or even say anything more than what we wanted to eat or drink. Overall it seemed a bit cold, but perhaps that's just our friendly Midwestern side coming through.
· Amenity kit. Produced by Ugo Vanelli (a brand unknown to us), it was a little on chinzy side. The standard pair of socks, eye mask, toothbrush and lotion also had a brush and lip balm in a zippered pouch, but it felt a little cheap.
· Storage. There was an overwhelming lack of storage around the seat. What pouches it did have were well-loved and ripped up from previous passengers shoving too much crap in them.
· Lounge access. We were flying on a codeshare ticket from Qantas and were denied access to their business class lounge (on the return flight in Ho Chi Minh City) even after flashing our SkyTeam Elite Plus status; instead we were sent to the associated lounge.

Currently, Vietnam Airlines flies two different international widebody services; we were on a fairly new Airbus A330. Any of the European services operate with 777s with the airline holding orders for some Dreamliners and the Airbus A350.

[Photos: Rayme Gorniak/Jaunted]

Comments (2)

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No lounge access for Business class tickets

One of the main reasons I choose to fly business is the access to the airline lounge. Being denied access to the Vietnam Airlines lounge while flying business class was confusing and frustrating. That's a massive negative in my opinion.

Vietnam Airlines Business Great Service!

I have done Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam Airlines Business Class before and yes you should get lounge access,outandabout you should have been been provided a Qantas Lounge pass by the check-in staff. The exception to this airline standby upgrades and optiontown upgrades. I have written my own review here: http://biztravelguru.com/2013/10/vietnam-airlines-business-class-fight-review-sydney-to-ho-chi-minh- city

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