I’m back in Europe after a 13hr flight onboard a brand-new Vietnam Airlines A350 aircraft. What is Vietnam Airlines like in long-haul business class?
Vietnam Airlines has taken delivery of 10 A350 aircraft since 2015. The first five were delivered with staggered business class seating like you find on Alitalia, Iberia, and some British Airways flights. The latest five feature reverse-herringbone seats, nearly identical to what I’ve reviewed on Finnair, KLM, and China Airlines.
I really wanted the new reverse-herringbone seat and my wish was granted: my aircraft was only a few months old.
Stepping onboard, I noted how nice these seats look in an A350 cabin. I love the symmetry, even with the drab colors. Vietnam Airlines female FAs wear bright-colored green and yellow uniforms and I was hoping the seats would reflect a similar bright motif. But the color of the seat was actually the least of my worries.
I found my seat, 6A, and settled in for the longhaul. Let’s start with the negative. The bedding is not adequate. While at least the blanket is big enough, it really just like an economy class blanket doubled in size. There is no mattress pad and no plush comforter. I still slept fairly well, but better bedding would have helped tremendously.
Furthermore, the headphones were more fit for economy class than business class…there is no reason Vietnam Airlines cannot invest in better headphones for its premium cabin.
Meals onboard were fair, though also below average. I know it was late at night, but for a 13.5hr flight I expected a bit more in terms of the main meal service. The appetizer and dessert were served on the same tray. No nuts or amuse bouche to start. No soup or salad. Just a rather pathetic beef terrine or smoked salmon. At least the garlic bread was tasty.
For the main course I had rack of lamb, one of my favorite dishes. It was tasty and the rosemary sauce was excellent, but the portion was tiny: two small chops that did not contain much meat on them. The lamb was cooked an acceptable medium well and the gnocchi was cold.
I had not slept on my Qatar Airways flight and spent eight hours working in the Vietnam Airlines Lounge, so by the time the meal service was over I was exhausted and ready to sleep…which I did (off and on) for the next nine hours.
Breakfast was served 90 minutes before landing and included a good Spanish omelet with crisp (but sadly cold) bacon. I should just avoid pork, but I love bacon and this was still good. The cappuccino was powdered.
While the soft product may be lacking, I enjoyed excellent service onboard. The FA taking care of my aisle was lovely and quite caring. When I told her I did not want any alcohol, just water, she asked why and I blamed a headache. She very genuinely asked me if there was anything she could do to help and made it a point to check on me often during the flight. The whole crew provided excellent service.
Even the purser, who ended up taking a nap in the open seat behind me and snoring loudly, was was quite nice during the flight.
My full flight review will fill in additional details and offer many additional photos. The bottom line, however, is that the Vietnam Airlines offers an excellent hard product and below-average soft product. Even so, the great seat + great service means I will not hesitate to recommend Vietnam Airlines to you.
The reverse flights always provides more substantial meals. I flew HAN-LHR return and the LHR-HAN flight had the works including a table side cheese service which was excellent. The same can’t be said for the reverse.
This used to be the “cheap and cheerful” choice for flights ex Bangkok to Australia and Europe. Fair to decent quality and fares on the low side, a bit of a bargain in business class. I think they got a bit carried away with their success and decided to increase fares to the same or greater level as better-known competitors. That strategy didn’t work for me: while I was prepared to sit in that lousy lounge in Saigon for a 4 hour connection in order to save $1000, I won’t do it when they charge to same as SQ, TG, CX, QR, EK.
Pity because there is much to like about them ( and Vietnam itself).