In June 2013 I flew from Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam Airlines Business Class, as a regular traveller to Vietnam with 1 or more trips per year and also having worked there you would be surprised to hear I have never flown from Sydney to Ho Chi Minh city direct with Vietnam Airlines, usually opting to fly via Singapore or Darwin with Qantas or Jetstar so I was very eager to fly this route for the first time and in Business Class.
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Check-in and Boarding
Arriving at the check-in counter around 45 minutes before they opened there was already around a 50 meter long line of eager passengers in the in the queue who must have had the same idea as me check-in early then relax, my immediate thought, this is going to be a very long day then I remembered I was booked in Business Class and immediately started to relax.
When check-in opened I headed straight for the Business Class counter and was fairly quickly checked-in, phew check-in done. I don’t normally like check-in at the best of times but check in to Vietnam Airlines Business Class was quick, efficient and pleasant.
Boarding was called and I headed for the Business Class line where I boarded instantly and went straight to my allocated seat 3H. Vietnam Airlines operate Airbus A330 300 on the Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City route and on boarding my first impressions was how spacious the Business Class cabin was especially leg room. The business class cabin consists of 36 seats laid out in a 2-2-2 seating configuration, lucky for me and other solo travellers Business Class was only half full which equated to a vacant seat next to each of us, a welcome a bonus and great when doing a review flight or a flight I that I need to work on, as it gives me somewhere to quickly place and access my laptop and full frame camera during meal service without needing to pack everything away.
Not long after being seated I was offered a warm refresher towel and the obligatory sparkling wine, orange juice or sparkling water. As normal I went with the sparkling wine, at the same time I was handed the menu, which allowed me to get my dining decisions out of the way before take-off.
VN772 departed a few minutes late due to the normal backlog of flights departing from Sydney’s domestic and International airports at this time of the morning then once we were in the air and within minutes of the fasten seat belt sign turning off I was asked if I would like to place my lunch order.
Vietnam Airlines Business Class Meal Service
For lunch I had decided on the Hungarian salami, grilled scallop and smoked salmon entrée and for main the Stir fried Beef with Lotus roots & red chilli, fried rice with egg.
Not long later the meal service started with an amuse Bouche, followed by my ordered entrée and then main in addition to an Asparagus cream soup and a selection of breads, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and presentation of all meals and most importantly the taste.
Feeling quite stuffed I said to the flight attendant in Vietnamese “no qua”, which translates to “very full” she smiled and not long later was back to offer me a selection from a cheese and desert platter which I politely declined, 20 or so minutes after clearing the dishes up the window shades were closed and cabin lights dimmed.
Further into the flight and not far out from Ho Chi Minh City the cabin was offered another meal this time I chose the rice and BBQ pork dish which was the best meal of the flight, the succulent double cooked pork with a thick barbecue sauce is something I usually venture out to experience in the Chinese districts of Saigon or Suburb of Sydney so I was very happy that I was able to experience a similar quality dish in the air.
Business Class Seat
Vietnam Airlines Business Class seat in this Airbus A330 was very comfortable with a near lie flat setting which has a slight angle. According to the Vietnam Airlines website my seat had a seat pitch of 62 inch (157.5 Cm) and a reclining angle of 153 degrees, the large seat pitch translated to a very decent amount of leg room, I am above average in height and stretching my legs out I could not touch the seat in front of me.
As mentioned above my seat was not full lie-flat seat however I can testify that it was very comfortable, I usually find it hard to sleep on most flights but I had no problems getting a few hours this time.
My seat was also equipped with a massage function which I used and enjoyed, however on my return flight back to Sydney three weeks later the cabin and seats looked near identical however they were missing the massage function that I enjoyed on the flight over. Function wise the seats had several pre-programmed positions such as upright, relax and bed, seats could also be adjusted to any position in between.
Inflight entertainment and Tech
Inflight entertainment wise the seat was equipped with a touch screen LCD display which folded out from the base of the centre armrest, entertainment options included recent release movies and TV series, kid’s entertainment through to music, games as well as the dynamic flight map. In terms of title selection I counted a selection of around 30 movies (mix of western and Asian movies) which is nowhere near the section found on Qantas, Singapore Airlines or Emirates ICE Inflight entertainment (IFE) system, but it would be enough to keep anyone without their own PC or Tablet and media occupied for an 8 hour flight. Controlling the system was possible via either touch screen or the remote/Inflight telephone system that is located in the centre armrest. In terms of ease of use the system was intuitive however it was a little slow going between screens.
Other inflight tech features included the Entertainment system remote and inflight phone which also had the flight attendant service button on it.
Above the centre console between seats was also inflight power, a USB ports, an inflight headphone jack as well as an Ethernet port. I tried the in-flight power on my laptop but almost immediately the green light went off after putting it in, this normally means the laptop power supply draws more power than can be supplied by the outlet. One thing that puzzled me is why the Ethernet port? I can only imagine they were installed in case Vietnam Airlines ever decided to add in-flight internet.
I have another Vietnam Airlines flight planned for later this year in which I will give the inflight power another try with a lower powered laptop I will also give the USB port a try to see if it can power my table or phone.
Final Thoughts and Verdict
From check-in through to touch down in Vietnam the flight was a memorable experience. Food was plentiful and of a high standard and the service from the Vietnam Airlines flight attendants was of a high standard.
Highlights of the flight were:
Service not only were the flight attendants quick and efficient at fulfilling requests their service always came with a smile.
Business Class Seat even though not a lie flat I found it very comfortable with plenty of legroom
If you have a question about Vietnam Airlines Business Class or want to share your experiences please leave a comment below.