At the Airport
The queue to checkin was short. The paper ticket is solid but annoyingly lists only boarding time not departure time. There was a long queue for passport control despite many manned booths, but after that thankfully security also had almost zero wait.
The assigned gate was 11 but this turned out to be a bus gate, and we were taken in a crowded bus to remote stand S109.
The flight was operated by an Airbus 321 (registration number VN-A327, the same frame I had flown on previously from Hong Kong to Hanoi). This was painted in the Skyteam livery, which is rather ugly, but a couple of parts had the standard Vietnam Airlines livery, which made the plane look a bit unprofessional.
The seat was fine, and prettily upholstered. There was no seatback television, but some overhead monitors which switched between comedy and a flight map.
The economy cabin was more or less full, with a mixture of locals, foreigners and mainlanders, including some large tour groups. It was not a quiet flight.
We took off, and headed up over the water on a beautiful afternoon towards Hong Kong. The flight was smooth and left on time. It was delayed before Hong Kong by what the flight attendant announced as a “traffic jam”, before touching down fifteen or so minutes behind schedule. We also used a bus gate at Hong Kong.
The crew wore Vietnam Airlines’ lovely uniform and were helpful throughout.
They started service by distributing wet serviettes, then did a meal service. They came through to offer more of their quaffable French table wine – the glasses are small – and later hot drinks.
Food and Drink
The flight attendants showed a menu with the two meal choices: beef and rice or seafood and noodles. I chose the former. It was a good dish and the beef part had the right texture.
The food quality is good and the presentation is also decent, better in my opinion than Cathay’s offering on flights of comparable length.
Generally this is a cheap flight, and that shows in things like the inconvenience of being bussed at either end. The service is good, though, with a good meal and quality drinks. Once again, I was happy with a Vietnam Airlines flight.