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FLIGHT#20: SGN Domestic Sasco Lounge, VN452 SGN-NHA Business Class and Sheraton Nha T

FLIGHT#20: SGN Domestic Sasco Lounge, VN452 SGN-NHA Business Class and Sheraton Nha T

Old Jan 20, 11, 2:51 am
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FLIGHT#20: SGN Domestic Sasco Lounge, VN452 SGN-NHA Business Class and Sheraton Nha T

FLIGHT#20
Vietnam Airlines #452
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (SGN) – Nha Trang, Vietnam (NHA)

Date: Dec. 26, 2010
Departure: 07:25
Arrival: 08:20
Length: 0:55
Miles flown since start of trip: 38,082 mi.
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Seats: BUSINESS 1ACD

After Christmas in Saigon, we decided that we needed a little vacation from our year long vacation. I’m sorry if you’re rolling your eyes right now. But after some hardcore traveling for six months, we needed some quiet R&R at a nice beach hotel. We were quickly approaching the exact half way point of our year long trip (details can be found here: My son’s fifth grade year: 97,737 miles, 40 flights, 6 continents and 16 countries)

We were at a party in Saigon with some friends and we met a lovely British couple that also lived in Saigon. They had just come back from a wonderful weekend at the brand new Sheraton Nha Trang about 200 miles north of Saigon. They said it was a great hotel and fairly quiet since it had just opened. They also said that the Club Lounge at the top was well worth the extra money.

So the next day, I booked us a lovely Club room with two double beds. The round-trip airfare was about $100 USD each with one of the segments in business class since economy wasn’t available. We were forced to take business again!

CHECK-IN:
We took a cab from District 2 where we were staying to the airport for about $13. He dropped us directly in front of the Vietnam Airlines check-in. Almost all of the business class check-in desks were empty so we had our choice.


Business class check-in at the domestic terminal in SGN

Check-in was simple since I had checked in online the previous day. I was surprised that Vietnam Airlines allows to you check-in 40 hours before departure! I was able to snag Row 1. Yeah! Unfortunately, OLCI did not allow me to input our Delta Skymiles numbers so I had to remember to do that at this point. The agent printed out our boarding passes and lounge invitations and soon we were off to security.

LOUNGE:
Vietnam Airlines uses a shared lounge run by SASCO. The domestic terminal was fairly basic so we were happy to be going off to a beautiful lounge. We were greeted by a friendly employee who made note of our flight and then showed us around the lounge. Normally the sight of a fully stocked bar would make me smile but it was 6:00am and I was barely awake.

The lounge was very empty at this time of the morning so we found a nice area to set up shop.


Entrance to SASCO Domestic Business Class Lounge


Quiet business class lounge

The food offerings were extensive for a domestic lounge. We all had a hearty breakfast of delicious food.


Large food selection for a domestic lounge


Sliced meat, cucumbers and a rolled rice thingy


Noodles and snacks


My breakfast in the lounge


Lots of Vietnamese breakfast offerings

The lounge also offered fast free wifi so we were able to Skype with the Grandparents and my brother. The furnishings of the lounge were a bit dated and leaned toward mid-century Communist. Nonetheless, it was comfortable and quiet. It easily met our needs.

BOARDING:
Soon they announced our flight and we made our way to the gate. I was a bit saddened when I could see that our gate didn’t connect to a jetway. Instead, we would be busing it to our plane. Ugh.

I have to complain for a few moments about buses. If I’m flying economy class, I accept them as part of the journey. But when I fly first or business they are the great equalizer. We all have to get on the bus. Sometimes an airline will provide a separate bus for premium class travelers which is a good alternative. The worst offender in this category is Emirates at their home hub in Dubai. I have arrived and taken off in Dubai several times whilst flying First Class only to be put on a crowded, hot, uncomfortable bus for a 15 minute journey to the main terminal. I’m always amazed how far away they have to park sometimes. Considering this is the same airline that offers me complementary limousine transfer for each flight, it just doesn’t make sense.

Saigon is Vietnam Airlines’s home hub so busing to the aircraft while passing lots of empty gates confuses me.


Our glamorous ride to the airplane


Our bird of the day

We got off our bus and walked toward the front airstairs where we quickly got settled into our seats.

SERVICE:
The flight was just under fifty minutes. So this meant that they did a quick beverage service and some packaged peanuts. I had a lovely cup of tea and read my Kindle. No in-flight entertainment was offered.

SEAT:
Vietnam uses a 2-2 configuration in their domestic business class on this Airbus 320. The seats were very comfortable and had a decent recline.

I was surprised when our friends in Saigon told me that the country of Vietnam was the same length as the East Coast of the United States. Somehow in my head Vietnam was a lot shorter. A flight from Saigon to Hanoi is about three hours! This seat would be pushing it for flights any longer than that. In row 1 there was PLENTY of legroom for my tall husband.


Row 1 with lots of leg room

Soon enough we landed in Nha Trang and were deplaning. I was extremely happy that a small van was parked by the front airstairs that quickly whisked the Business Class passengers to the terminal. Almost immediate, the luggage belt began to move and all the Business Class bags came out. This all happened before the Economy Class buses had arrived at the terminal. WAY TO GO VIETNAM AIRLINES!!

So they dropped the ball with the bus on the way to the plane in Saigon but did everything perfectly in Nha Trang. Why the inconsistency?

We quickly made our way out of the airport and into a cab. Now, I take all the blame here because I hadn’t done my research about transfers into town from the airport. Normally, I find out what a typical taxi fare is before I leave. Our cab had a meter and I just made sure he used it.

Well it turns out the airport is 35 miles from the center of Nha Trang. Keep in mind this is not a big city in the least. I’m guessing the taxi cab companies had a big part of getting so far away! By the time we got to the Sheraton, the meter had $35 on it.

What we should have done was pre-paid the taxi at the airport for about $13. There were many signs advertising this price. I just assumed the metered price would be cheaper. In the future, I’ll know to pre-pay this journey.

SHERATON NHA TRANG:

Since we were staying on the Club Floor, someone escorted us up to Floor 25 were the Club Lounge was located and we checked-in there. I was forced to book a smoking room online because it said that no non-smoking rooms were available. Even though it was 9:00am, I was willing to wait for a non-smoking room. She said that I shouldn’t worry because we were the first people to ever stay in our room. It was a virgin smoking room.

They escorted us to the room and pointed out all its features. It had a stunning ocean view of the beach and ocean. Besides two double beds, it also had a large settee where our son ended up sleeping each night.

Like many Asian hotels, the wall between the main room and the bathtub was glass so that you could look out at the ocean while in the tub. A privacy screen could be lowered if needed.

The highlight of this hotel was the Club Lounge. It’s double ceiling height and patio area made it a very comfortable place to hang out. Our room rate included a buffet breakfast downstairs but we actually preferred to eat in the lounge. A chef would make both Vietnamese breakfast items plus omelets or any style eggs.

Snacks and drinks were available throughout the day and a nice tea service began at 3:00pm. The evening cocktail service was excellent with lots of spirits and wine/champers. The pupus were also wonderful. Two of the evenings, we never made it to dinner.


Having an evening cocktail

Free wifi was available in the lounge so we spent more waking hours in the lounge that we did in our room. The infinity pool was also nice and we enjoyed the nearby games room often playing foosball, ping pong or pool.


Playing in the wind by the pool


The gingerbread house in the main lobby



Corbin and me by the lobby Christmas tree

OVERALL:
Both Vietnam Airlines and the Sheraton Nha Trang were great and we would gladly repeat this vacation in a vacation anytime!

Previous reports in this year of travel:
FLIGHT#22: SGN International Sasco Lounge & TG 551 Business Class with photos
FLIGHT#20: SGN Dom Sasco Lounge, VN452 SGN-NHA Biz Class and Sheraton Nha Trang
FLIGHT#19: BKK Royal First Lounge & LH772 BKK-SGN in First Class with photos
FLIGHT#18: TG242 KBV-BKK in Biz Class with photos
FLIGHT#17: TG245 BKK-KVG in Biz Class with Photos
FLIGHT#16: THE CABIN & CX751 HKG-BKK in Biz Class with photos
FLIGHT#15: CX748 JNB-HKG Biz Class with photos

Last edited by olafman; Jan 20, 11 at 12:12 pm
olafman is offline  
Old Jan 21, 11, 3:36 am
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Fantastic episode in this now-legendary trip report. As someone who grew up as a bit of an expat brat (an ex-brat?) I think the whole concept of your year is just wonderful. Enormous kudos!
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Old Jan 21, 11, 8:08 am
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another great TR...the more i read the more i think about doing exactly what you are doing....have a few years to plan. that pool looks outstanding.
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Old Jan 21, 11, 7:49 pm
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This journey has captivated me for much of the previous few months and aside from making me green with envy it also serves as powerful encouragement to get out of my comfort zone and see the world. I am in awe of your sense of adventure, as well as the time and effort the planning and execution of this journey must have taken. So from me, and my girlfriend - to whom i have been relating each new development in your journey - a big thank you.
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Old Jan 22, 11, 5:25 am
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Great TR, thanks for sharing.

Originally Posted by olafman View Post

So the next day, I booked us a lovely Club room with two double beds. The round-trip airfare was about $100 USD each with one of the segments in business class since economy wasn’t available. We were forced to take business again!
Forced to take business class is a great problem to have!
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Old Feb 20, 11, 2:20 pm
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Originally Posted by olafman View Post
I was surprised when our friends in Saigon told me that the country of Vietnam was the same length as the East Coast of the United States. Somehow in my head Vietnam was a lot shorter. A flight from Saigon to Hanoi is about three hours!
Huh? The coast of Vietnam is half the length of the coast of the Eastern US. Saigon to Hanoi is only 700 miles, a 1.5 hr flight!
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Old Feb 20, 11, 9:11 pm
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Originally Posted by dabears1020 View Post
Huh? The coast of Vietnam is half the length of the coast of the Eastern US. Saigon to Hanoi is only 700 miles, a 1.5 hr flight!
Indeed. Maybe his friend was referring to the US West Coast, which would be a closer match, if measuring by airport distances (700 miles for SGN-HAN compared to 950 for SEA-LAX) but still not that long.

Regarding the 3 hours of flight to Hanoi, the flight is normally 2 hours, but I guess that his friend, being a seasoned expat in Vietnam, included the mandatory 1+ hour Vietnam Airlines delay in his calculations
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Old Feb 23, 11, 1:40 am
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Okay, it's the same as the coast of something! And my friends failed geography.

Originally Posted by luckylex View Post
Indeed. Maybe his friend was referring to the US West Coast, which would be a closer match, if measuring by airport distances (700 miles for SGN-HAN compared to 950 for SEA-LAX) but still not that long.

Regarding the 3 hours of flight to Hanoi, the flight is normally 2 hours, but I guess that his friend, being a seasoned expat in Vietnam, included the mandatory 1+ hour Vietnam Airlines delay in his calculations
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