Saigon-Hanoi business class on Vietnam Airlines A350: a very solid experience

Vietnam Airlines offers an excellent service between Saigon and Hanoi in business class, especially as this route is operated by twin-aisle aircraft, in this case an A350.

It’s time for me to leave Saigon for Hanoi, a flight I’ll be taking in business class on Vietnam Airlines. I’d almost tried Bamboo Airlines, an unfamiliar airline I’d heard great things about, but I was a bit worried about its fragile financial health and didn’t want to see my flights cancelled at the last minute. My fears were confirmed, as it cancelled part of its routes a few weeks after my trip. And as the Vietnamese national airline, which I had flown many times on domestic flights, had never disappointed me, I decided to stick with it.

For the record, here’s the air routing for this vacation.

You’ll find at the bottom of the page a summary of the articles about this vacation in Vietnam.

Booking

About two months before my trip, I booked a one-way business class ticket at around 250 euros. The price of domestic flights on Vietnam Airlines is very little sensitive to yield, so no matter what the flight time or day, prices are pretty much the same all the time. However, prices vary according to the season: in January you can find this flight for less than 150 euros.

Check-in and ground course

I check-in online the day before my flight and arrive at the airport 3 hours before my flight to try out the different lounges. The trip by Grab (the local uber) from the city center cost me…..4 euros for a 30-minute ride.

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Saigon’s domestic terminal looks a little dated.

I go to the counter to check-in my luggage. I don’t see any Skypriority counters or queues, so I head for the normal counters. The agent at the entrance let me through without a word after checking my boarding pass, so I figured there mustn’t be a priority queue, which still seemed odd to me.

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In the end it’s very fast and 10 minutes later I’m heading for the security checkpoints.

As I took a look around the terminal before going in, I noticed a Skypriority area that wasn’t signposted at all, or wasn’t signposted well enough for me to have noticed it.

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Screening and boarding gates are upstairs.

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Not many people, I won’t even look to see if there’s a priority queue.

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There is an identity check before security checks, even on domestic flights.

5 minutes later I’m airside.

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Not exactly eye-catching….

A visit to the Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge and one to the Le Saigonnais lounge and I’m at my boarding gate.

Our A350 is waiting for us.

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Boarding

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I’m first in the skypriority queue, which will be sparsely crowded in the end.

We’ll be boarding on time.

The Skypriority queue will be released first and we’ll make our way to the aircraft door, where we’ll have to wait 5 minutes for the cabin preparation to be completed.

Finally, we enter the aircraft.

Vietnam Airlines A350 business class cabin

The Saigon-Hanoi route is very busy, and like many Asian airlines, Vietnam Airlines does not hesitate to operate it with wide-body aircraft, in this case an A350.
In fact, it was on this same flight, but in economy, that I made my first A350 flight in 2017!

Due to supply problems, Vietnam Airlines’ first A350s were equipped with Stelia Solstys seats in business class, as was the case for the aircraft we presented to you at the inauguration of the Paris-Hanoi route. A seat we don’t like at all that I had to put up with on Thai to get to Australia

Fortunately, this aircraft is more recent, and is equipped with Cirrus seats from Safran Seats (formerly Zodiac). These are the same as those found in Air France’s “Best & Beyond” cabins, but customized to the needs of the Vietnamese airline.

The first impression is of a real sense of space, thanks to the absence of a luggage compartment above the center seats and the cabin’s bright colors.

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We therefore have a 1-2-1 configuration in reverse herringbone.

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This is my window seat.

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Compared with the Air France seat, this one is less enveloping and I find that we have less privacy. The seat is closer to its basic version, with less customization and enhancement.

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However, due to the shape of the seat, two out of three windows are “lost”.

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The table is large.

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On the side are the reading light, remote control, power and USB sockets, and seat controls.

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Next to it is a modestly sized storage space with noise-cancelling headphones.

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There’s plenty of legroom.

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Another, larger storage compartment is located on the side next to the retractable armrest.

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Vietnam Airlines is one of the few airlines still to offer a paper in-flight magazine.

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So this is a beautiful cabin, globally nice….with just one downside.

I find the seat a little too thin or not firm enough: depending on my position on the seat, I feel as if I’m sitting directly on the metal structure. Not very comfortable. It would be necessary to check on a longer flight.

The flight and the service

As we board, we are brought a cold oshibori and a welcome drink.

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Then the menus are handed out. Orders will be taken on the ground before takeoff.

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No amenity kit on this domestic flight though.

In the end, we will be 6 passengers in business class for a capacity of 28.

We’re ready to go and after a short taxi we line up on the runway.

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A view of Saigon during the climb.

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I start watching a series on my iPad while waiting for the service to start.

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The crew closes the window blinds and sets up the table.

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The trays are brought to us.

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Lotus root salad with peppery fish

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Very fresh and spicy, even the vegetables are tasty. The fish will melt in your mouth.

Baked chicken leg with cheese and herb crust, diced potatoes

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The chicken is fine, but the vegetables are rather tasteless. After mixing and stirring with the sauce, it goes much better. In the end, a very decent dish. Not great, but good.

As for dessert, a sweet Vietnamese soup with mung beans, lotus seeds and coconut milk (pictured above with the salad), it will be very tasty.

Then I’ll have a cup of tea with which I’ll be given a mooncake.

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The mooncake isn’t really bad, but will be really heavy and a bit bland.

A very decent meal for a domestic flight but not at the level of what Vietnam Airlines serves on its long-haul flights, but when you see what European airlines serve on flights of this duration, it’s very good.

The rest of the flight was uneventful.

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The service

Very good and attentive.

Arrival and disembarkation

We are served a glass of water on a tray before the descent begins.

A quick glance at the landscape before touching down.

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It’s a short drive to our parking stand, remote!

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It’s incredible that the national airline can’t get a parking at the gate for an A350!

So we’ll be disembarking by bus. Fortunately, Vietnam Airlines uses a special bus for its business passengers, which will leave before the economy passengers disembark.

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A handsome, comfortable premium bus.

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Heading for the luggage conveyor…

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My suitcase will be delivered quickly, as priority luggage is unloaded and sent out before the others. They will even arrive on the conveyor among those from the previous flight. Now all I have to do is order my Grab to get to my hotel.

Bottom line

A top-of-the-range service for a flight of less than two hours.

The articles about this vacation in Vietnam

#TypePost
1Travel diaryPreparing for vacations in Vietnam
2FlightParis-Stockholm – SAS – SAS Plus (A320Neo)
3LoungeSAS Gold lounge – Stockholm
4FlightStockholm-Oslo – SAS – SAS Plus (A320Neo)
5HotelRadisson Blu Airport Hotel – Oslo Gardermoen
6LoungeSAS Gold lounge international zone – Oslo
7FlightOslo-Istanbul – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A321Neo)
8LoungeTurkish Airlines Miles&Smile Lounge international zone – Istanbul
9FlightIstanbul-Saigon – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A350)
10HotelRenaissance Riverside Hotel – Saigon
11RestaurantAnan – Saigon
12RestaurantHoa Tuc – Saigon
13Travel diarySaigon city tour
14LoungeVietnam Airlines Lotus lounge (domestic) – Saigon
15LoungeLe Saigonnais lounge (domestic) – Saigon
16FlightSaigon-Hanoi- Vietnam Airlines – Business Class (A350)
17HotelJW Marriott Hotel – Hanoi
18RestaurantGia – Hanoi
19RestaurantTung Dining – Hanoi
20Travel diaryCity tour of Hanoi
21LoungeVietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge (domestic) – Hanoi
22LoungeSong Hong Lounge (domestic) – Hanoi
23FlightHanoi-Phu Quoc – Vietnam Airlines – Business Class (A320Neo)
24HotelSheraton Long Beach Resort – Phu Quoc
25Hotel JW Marriott Emerald Bay – Phu Quoc
26LoungeHoa Sim Business lounge – Phu Quoc
27FlightPhu Quoc-Saigon – Vietnam Airlines – Business Class (A320)
28LoungeLe Saigonnais lounge (international zone) – Saigon
28FlightSaigon-Istanbul – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A350)
30LoungeIGA Lounge (zone internationale) – Istanbul
31LoungeTurkish Airlines business lounge – Istanbul
31FlightIstanbul-Oslo – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A321Neo)
32HotelRadisson Blu Plaza Hotel – Oslo
33RestaurantKatla – Oslo
34Travel diaryCity tour of Oslo
35FlightOslo-Copenhagen – SAS – SAS Plus (A320)
36FlightCopenhagen-Paris – SAS – SAS Plus (A320Neo)
37Travel diaryDebriefing of my vacation in Vietnam

Vietnam Airlines Saigon-Hanoi en business class

Siège et cabine
Catering
Service
Ponctualité
Rapport Expérience / Prix

Très bien

Une très belle cabine et une prestation de qualité pour un vol court.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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