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Hanoi - Danang - HCMC (Vietnam Airlines)

Hanoi - Danang - HCMC (Vietnam Airlines)

Old Apr 14, 07, 2:55 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Bangkok
Programs: Thai, Singapore Airlines
Posts: 10
Hanoi - Danang - HCMC (Vietnam Airlines)

Hi Again Everyone!

Here is a short-ish trip report about a recent trip from Hanoi - Danang and then Danang to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon or HCMC) on Vietnam Airlines.

In advance, sorry for the lack of quality of some of the pictures, and sorry for not a lot of cabin pictures, but I only had my camera phone with me, therefore had to switch it off very soon after boarding.

My office had booked me a business class flight for these sectors as Y class was full on both legs and I had no choice but to travel - nice one! ^

Hanoi Airport is reasonably modern, but doesn't have overly great facilities. It seems to work well enough though.

I checked in very easily and was allocated seat 1K. I also received an invitation to the Vietnam Airlines Golden Lotus Lounge, so I went and checked it out.

Entrance to the Lounge:

The Lounge Itself:

There is a sealed-off section in the lounge which incorporates a smoking room - very sensible, and one of the good things about places like Vietnam where smokers are not still treated like outcasts! ^
It was completely sealed off, and I couldn't smell any smoke at all coming from the room so no one else was bothered in any way by it.

Snacks in the Lounge - Tasty!

Shot Of Domestic Departure Lounge in Hanoi

One of the reminders of Vietnam's past is that Air France still uses a 747-400 service to Hanoi from Paris (via Bangkok)

A blurry photo, but a unique aircraft - an Air Dream 727... anyone heard of them? I never have! Didn't seem to be going anywhere in a hurry either.

Our aircraft was a brand-new beautiful Airbus A321-231, which was only a couple of months or so old. Paint still looked brand-spanking new. I love VN's colour scheme! One of the most attractive out there IMHO. The registration was VN-A353. Delivered 08 February 2007. So very new! ^

As the plane was on a remote stand, we had to "bus it" from the terminal. I went down the stairs to the tarmac and saw the big bus waiting there. I was heading towards it, when a ground crew person hustled me onto a minibus parked behind it instead. The minibus was for business class passengers - a nice touch!

On board there were 3 rows of 2 x 2 business class. As the plane was only a couple of months old, everything was sparkling and new. The Captain was French and the first officer Vietnamese. The cabin crew - gorgeous! ^
Only managed a couple of quick shots as had to turn the phone off.

The hour-long flight was quite uneventful. I was a little disappointed in the J class meal service - it was only a couple of little canapes-type things that really did nothing to fill me up. I managed a beer, a Coke and coffee however during the hour! Newspapers were handed out at the start of the flight, as well as a pre-take off OJ or Water and the crew came around with the OJ and water once after the snack service too. Hot towels were provided before take off and landing. The cabin crew uniform (for the girls) is the traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai and one of the most beautiful pieces of clothing a woman can were IMO.

Landed in Danang - which has a VERY long runway! (As it was a US Air base during the war). 10000 feet or so!

A quick taxi to the terminal and then de-planed. My bags had PRIORTY tags, but came out last. No matter. A minor detail.

After a quick weekend in Hoi An getting clothes tailored, it was time to head to HCMC for a few day's work.

Greeting me at Danang Airport was an accident where a bus pulling out from the kerb collected a taxi. Nice one! Of course, being Vietnam, there were a million-and-one on-lookers!

Danang Airport is pretty old, and in need of an upgrade. It was very busy, with flights going out to HCMC, Nha Trang, Dien Ben Phu and Hanoi.
The business class counter was empty however, so I checked in straight away and was allocated a window seat.

I headed to the lounge, and it was old, and distinctly "communist" in terms of decor, but was adequate enough with a decent food selection.

The snacks were good in the lounge.

As I said, the main airport outside the J class lounge is pretty old and in need of an upgrade. The flight was 30 minutes late as it was delayed coming in from HCMC.

Shot of the terminal:

Our bird today was a beautiful Vietnam Airlines 777-2Q8 (Extended Range). Registration VN-A149. It was configured in "international flying" configuration, so great seats were assured!! ^

Here is the beautiful bird - colour scheme looks even better on the 777 than the A321! ^

We bussed out to the remote stand (no private minibus this time!) and I was first to board so managed to grab a couple of snaps of the seats before turning my phone off.

The seat was one of the most comfortable J class seats I've experience. I rated it even better than the Singapore Airlines J class seat. (Not the brand new one, the current one they've had for a while - The Space Bed).
The controls were really simple to use, and not complicated. Pitch was great with heaps of leg-room. I would love to use this seat for a long-haul flight! ^

The load was full in J and Y class. (Sidenote: Parents - if you are have to let your toddlers fly business class, please keep them under control and not run around the cabin screaming and creating havoc!! Children... grrrr....)

Towels were handed our prior to take off and again before landing.
The meal service was again a couple of canapes which really weren't that great. Again - got 3 drinks in, so that was ok. ^
Newspapers and magazines available too.

Great having the nose-wheel camera to watch the take-off and landing too! ^

Bags came off again near the last despite being tagged.

Anyway, I was very happy with Vietnam Airlines J class product domestically. I would imagine internationally it would be very good too.

Also, they suffer delays - a lot!!! Probably about 1 in 3 flights I take with them are delayed an hour or more.

But for a developing country, it is an impressive and growing airline, and I hope they keep up their service standards to the level they've achieved now.
Thanks for reading!
Bangkok Boy
Bangkok Boy is offline  
Old Apr 14, 07, 1:12 pm
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Portland, OR
Programs: NW Plat (now they call it DL Diamond) 1MM, soon to be DL Plat, Hilton Diamond, SPG Gold, Dusit Gold
Posts: 2,702
Unless you flew on March 9, 2007, I think that the Air Dream aircraft may be a permanent fixture in HAN. It appears to be parked exactly where I saw it on that date. It also was there the next day when we followed your exact routing south. We even arrived on the every other day AF flight from BKK.

Good report and good pictures even with the limitations of a camera phone. We flew Y so cannot comment on the lounges. AF would not give me a pass to the SGN lounge even though I have a NW lounge membership and am gold. AF in BKK provided an invitation with only the gold card, although the CIS lounge at BKK is better than the AF (IMO).

We got an unexpected upgrade to business DAD-SGN, although my seat was beaten up and broken. Food was the same as that in Y, so it appears that you pay the up charge for the seat (and lounge).

Hard to believe that there could be an accident in front of the DAD terminal as there are very few vehicles normally in front of it.
opushomes is offline  
Old Apr 14, 07, 8:27 pm
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,937
Impressive report!
hairpeace is offline  
Old Apr 14, 07, 9:44 pm
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: DEN
Programs: nada these days
Posts: 438
Wow -- great report! I loved the photos. J on the 777 looked very nice.
erdehoff is offline  
Old Apr 14, 07, 10:35 pm
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 23,996
Thanks for a report on an airline we don't see very often!^ If you don't mind me asking, how much did this trip cost in J? Looks like an overall impressive product!
lucky9876coins is offline  
Old Apr 15, 07, 12:50 am
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Bangkok
Programs: Thai, Singapore Airlines
Posts: 10
Hi Lucky...

I'm not sure as the company I work for bought the ticket. I do remember looking at the ticket when I travelled (as it is so unique to travel with a paper ticket these days) and I am pretty sure that it was in the range of about $250USD for the two flights. Sorry I can't be of more help!

Bangkok Boy
Bangkok Boy is offline  
Old Apr 15, 07, 2:33 pm
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Portland, OR
Programs: NW Plat (now they call it DL Diamond) 1MM, soon to be DL Plat, Hilton Diamond, SPG Gold, Dusit Gold
Posts: 2,702
The fare in coach

The exact same itinerary in "H" class 10 Mar, VN317 HAN-DAD and 16 Mar, VN325 DAD-SGN came to 1659000 dong if one bought it directly from VN. $1 US is presently 16000 dong.

Each of our tickets cost $134 US + 3% credit card fee from a company called TMK Travel in Saigon. This came to more than 35% premium for the travel agency. I will no longer use a travel agency for tickets. Instead I will buy them in country from VN or have the hotel conceirge arrange for them.

It has already been mentioned that at least for the DAD-SGN segment food is exactly the same in J as in Y so the difference is the seat size and pitch as well as the lounge access.
opushomes is offline  

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