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UA116 SGN-HKG: How early to arrive at SGN?

UA116 SGN-HKG: How early to arrive at SGN?

Old Aug 4, 14, 4:46 pm
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UA116 SGN-HKG: How early to arrive at SGN?

I've searched this forum, including http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...l-sgn-hkg.html and http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...ounge-sgn.html but I can't find anything recent.

I am traveling on UA116 from SGN to HKG on a Thursday morning in early September. Flight is scheduled to depart at 530a from SGN. We will be checking bags.

What are the international departure procedures like at SGN early in the morning? How early should we plan to arrive SGN? We will be staying at the Sofitel Saigon Plaza in District 1 and I'll add on ~20 min. to suggested airport arrival time to have our taxi pick us up.

Thanks for any advice.

Last edited by NgatesSEA; Aug 4, 14 at 5:44 pm
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Old Aug 4, 14, 4:54 pm
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I usually arrive at the airport about an hour before the flight, but I think most people would recommend 90 to 120 minutes. It's a small airport but immigration and security can take 30 minutes. Early morning should be quick as there are only a few early morning international departures.
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Old Aug 4, 14, 5:04 pm
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
I usually arrive at the airport about an hour before the flight, but I think most people would recommend 90 to 120 minutes. It's a small airport but immigration and security can take 30 minutes. Early morning should be quick as there are only a few early morning international departures.
I would agree with this. To be safe get there around 90 minutes prior.

Last time I was there I arrived around 3 am and it was way to early. I pretty much felt like I was the only one in the whole terminal. One of the security guards was even napping on the chairs at the gate.

If I recall correctly it's similar to SIN where they don't let you down to the gate until a certain time anyway.

There is nothing open that early either so keep that in mind.
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Old Aug 4, 14, 5:06 pm
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The last time I flew out of SGN on UA I arrived at 4am. There was already a long line at the ticket counter but it moved quickly. That was a while ago though then it was a 747 and I think it departed closer to six. 90 minutes should give you plenty of time. SGN security is quick
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Old Aug 4, 14, 5:08 pm
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Last time I got there around 90 minutes before departure, or about 4:00 am. There was no line for check-in and I had time to kill. Your best bet is probably to go to the lounge (which should be open) and have some breakfast if you end up with time on your hands.
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Old Aug 4, 14, 5:10 pm
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90 minutes is plenty of time, because unless you're flying J, there's no *A lounge access, eateries airside aren't great, and there are only a couple of duty free and souvenir shops. Plus, they keep the terminal on the warmer side, so very much not a pleasant place to wait for your flight, even with it being a new-ish building.

After checking in, they may make you wait while they "screen" your bag through the X-ray before the move it on, and you can leave. They may ask you for a "fee" because of some questionable things they found. DO NOT pay any fee, because they aren't authorized to collect... all they can do is inspect for things that are dangerous. If necessary, ask for the supervisor on duty at the ticket counter to come have a chat... they screeners really don't like it when you do this

While waiting for immigration, keep an eye on other lines they may be opening. As soon as one does, it's socially acceptable to push, shove, and elbow your way to the shorter line. Stand your ground, do not let anyone in front of you, thinking that you won't say anything. It's worked plenty of times for me.
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Old Aug 4, 14, 5:53 pm
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Thanks, all, very helpful. I am UA Plat/*G and flying in Y on SGN-HKG (I didn't think this flight was worth blowing miles or an RPU). I am presuming that I will have lounge access as a UA Plat/*G, so long as I ensure I have an invitation when I leave the check-in desk. I've seen much discussion on these threads about *G in Y obtaining or not obtaining lounge access in SGN (including the threads I cited in my original post), but I've never had issues with contract lounges so long as I leave the check-in counter with an invitation.

I've never tried this in SGN - have any *Gs in Y recently not been able to obtain an invite at SGN when checking in?
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Old Aug 4, 14, 7:43 pm
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Originally Posted by NgatesSEA View Post
Thanks, all, very helpful. I am UA Plat/*G and flying in Y on SGN-HKG (I didn't think this flight was worth blowing miles or an RPU). I am presuming that I will have lounge access as a UA Plat/*G, so long as I ensure I have an invitation when I leave the check-in desk. I've seen much discussion on these threads about *G in Y obtaining or not obtaining lounge access in SGN (including the threads I cited in my original post), but I've never had issues with contract lounges so long as I leave the check-in counter with an invitation.

I've never tried this in SGN - have any *Gs in Y recently not been able to obtain an invite at SGN when checking in?
I would treat it as a bonus if you actually do get an invite.

Here's the fun thing... the contract lounges, while better places to wait, are abysmal (not usual the FT doom-and-gloom, but genuinely bad). Unless you consider instant noodles to be J-lounge standard. I'd rather maximize my time enjoying the city, and spending as little time in the terminal as possible.

IMO not worth the extra effort to visit the lounge... unless you wanted to go see how bad it was

(My one data point was from 5 years ago, as a *G I managed to wrangle an invite from the ticket counter, but it was more of my charming one out of the station manager. I took another flight where they flatly denied me, citing the contract lounge aspect.)

Not much better in other alliances... as an AA EXP and PLT, I'm estimately 0 for 20 on accessing before the JL flight to NRT, and was with a friend who was twice denied access as a DL elite before 2 VN flights.
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Old Aug 4, 14, 8:02 pm
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UA now uses the Rose Lounge (I think I got the name right) which has some hot food and lots of drinks. If you're concerned about the uncertain lines at immigration (and I've run into some long ones) it's not a bad place to have to hang out.

edit: On second thought, you'll be there very early and I don't know if they're open or have hot food that early.
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Old Aug 4, 14, 8:08 pm
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Originally Posted by mduell View Post
UA now uses the Rose Lounge (I think I got the name right) which has some hot food and lots of drinks. If you're concerned about the uncertain lines at immigration (and I've run into some long ones) it's not a bad place to have to hang out.

edit: On second thought, you'll be there very early and I don't know if they're open or have hot food that early.
Correct, according to United, it is the "SASCO Rose CIP Lounge" (https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...ations/bf.aspx). I've actually read some fairly favorable reviews. Not sure of hours but hope it will be open by 4:15/4:30.
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Old Aug 4, 14, 8:25 pm
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FourSquare has checkins starting 4-5a today.

Still not sure about the food schedule.
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Old Aug 4, 14, 9:08 pm
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I've been through sgn a lot. 90 minutes will give you plenty of time. I have never had a problem as a *g getting lounge access, but you have to ask at check in. They usually have some hot food and at least hot water for pho. They also have a microwave with other options to heat up. Internet is decent when it's empty but gets slow when other come (like for evening NH flights). I've even made VoIP calls back to the states there with no problems. If you are lucky, they will have the heaping pile of Vn egg rolls to snack on. They are usually the left most food in the buffet.

Do Note, if you get a long delay, as I did during the great hkg typhoon two years ago, AVOID the food after an hour or two unless you see it come out fresh. I got sick on some food there that was left out way too long. That only happened once out of twenty trips so you shouldn't worry.
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Old Aug 5, 14, 12:13 am
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Originally Posted by gldwebs View Post
They usually have some hot food and at least hot water for pho.
To be clear, it's not pho, it's a cheap instant packaged imitation, and a poor one at that.

None... NONE... of the food there is representative of what Vietnamese cuisine is supposed to be like.
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Old Aug 5, 14, 1:05 am
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Originally Posted by LAXative View Post
Not much better in other alliances... as an AA EXP and PLT, I'm estimately 0 for 20 on accessing before the JL flight to NRT, and was with a friend who was twice denied access as a DL elite before 2 VN flights.
Was your DL-flying friend DL gold/plat/diamond? Was this after VN joined Skyteam?
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Old Aug 5, 14, 1:14 am
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Originally Posted by cmn.jcs View Post
Was your DL-flying friend DL gold/plat/diamond? Was this after VN joined Skyteam?
I believe plat (that's 75K, right?), and definitely after VN joined.
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