I had been fantasizing with my time and was determined that after Hanoi, I would travel to Hue and Hoian, which was very much recommended by many other travellers I met in my journeys. But, after actually checking the options, I realised that this would have extended my trip by at least five extra days, if I wanted to properly explore them. Hue is 650 km away from Hanoi, so quite long car journey, an extra flight or sleeper train. It would have been great, but I was already pushing it and l had on my list other countries to visit in southeast Asia. In the end, I decided to cut it short and fly direct from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh (better known as Saigon). I had the curiosity to see this famous city, as I used to sell this destination a lot when I worked as a flight specialist for a concierge company back in 2012.
I found three airlines servicing this route, Vietnam Airlines, Jet Star and Vietjet. I also noticed that Vietnam Airlines operates the route in their newest aircraft A350-900 for at least two of their daily flights from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, so I thought it was a great opportunity to experience this new generation aircraft; the fare was nearly double than the others two airlines though. 😬😬 I then remembered that I had few air miles on my Flying Blue Account (Air France Frequent Travel Program), so I decided to check it out to see if had enough for this journey. To my surprise and delight, I did! So I booked my ticket using 10000 miles and paid only €3.12 for taxes. It was so easy, I simply logged in my flying blue account, search for the flight and book it there and then. This was only possible as both Air France and Vietnam Airlines as part of the Skyteam so it is possible common air miles rewards.
I knew little about Vietnam Airlines before, so I did not have great expectations or anything like that.
Intro: Vietnam Airlines is based in Hanoi and it is the national airline of Vietnam and owned by the government. It uses a mixed fleet of Airbus, Boeing planes and ATR planes to operate its large Asian network. The airline also operates routes to Europe and Australia. Vietnam Airline is part of the Sky Team alliance.
My experience at the airport went effortlessly and quick, and Vietnam Airlines staff were at all times helpful. Upon entering the plane, I found a really stylish seating with 9 abreast configuration, nice flight attendant’s smiles along the aisle greeting passengers and a big touchscreen to keep me happily entertained. The seat also had a charging port for my mobile, which it very handy for me since I am usually short of battery. I got a window seat, as usual. My seat, according to my online reading was 32 inches pitch, but it certainly felt much bigger (unless perhaps I’m shrinking!)
The crew was extremely friendly and welcoming, and on top of that the atmosphere lighting felt very relaxing, I was feeling great. Also, for a short flight of only 2 hours 10 minutes, it actually included a full meal! which was lunch at the time of my flight. I found it particularly tasty just perhaps not as nice looking as they airline website show them though.
Apart from appreciating a lovely farewell view of Hanoi, I also enjoyed some reading about the airline industry in Vietnam: I learned that Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh route is one of the busiest air routes in the world! (From 5th-7th busiest over the last few years), I then understood why the airline uses new generation long-range aircraft such as B787 and A350 for a domestic route!. I was on board the A350, which features seating for 305 passengers spread across Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class.
The overall experience was top, I was gladly surprised by the high-level service onboard and all the inclusions. My personal preference for seat configuration is 2-4-2, it did not bother me too much on this occasion.
Top airline and absolutely recommended.!
My Rating from 1 – 5 *:Service: *****
- Aircraft configuration ****
- Meal, Drinks, Snacks *****
If you require assistance booking with Vietnam Airlines let me know, I am happy to help.
Safe travels and don’t forget to smile 🙂