Photo review of Vietnam Airlines flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Tokyo in Business
Hi, this is my first time writing an airlines report, so please apology for any mistake,
Vietnam Airlines has recently introduced Boeing 787-9 to the route SGN-NRT-SGN VN300 & VN301. This aircraft, together with A350 and the new branding system has changed Vietnam Airlines's service dramatically.
Check-in at Tan Son Nhat Int airport is always smooth and quick as this is the home airport. The Sky Priority counter at Tan Son Nhat airport is really a highlight as it is never busy, and the staffs are friendly.
As a Platinum member and flying in J for this leg, I was supposed to use the priority lane for security check and immigration. However, due to unknown reason, the priority lane for Sky Priority had disappeared for couple months for immigration. There was only priority lane for security-check for Business Class passenger (they didn't allow Skyteam Elite Plus to enter this). After passing the security check, I saved about 10-15 minutes because the queue was really long seriously.
As I mentioned before, the Sky Priority & Business lane for immigration disappeared, so I had to queue for 60 minutes. It is really 60 minutes because that was the peak time at the airport since several flights from multiple carriers bounded to Korea and Japan at the same time. And it seems busy like that everyday.
After 1 hour of waiting, I could be able to enter the Lotus Lounge. Just like what I guessed, there was no seat at all. I had to wait another 15 minutes to find a seat. Actually I went with my friend so it took time to find 2 seats together. Thanks for the friendly staffs who helped me arrange the seats.
I chose the 1K seat, and my friend chose the 2K seat as we both wanted to try the window seat.
The lounge is very dated now with very limited food. Beverages are okay, at least for me. Due to the space of the airport, it seems like it is possible to have the larger lounge to accommodate more guests. For those who are going to use the Lotus Lounge, be aware.
I had the Pho and the traditional Vietnamese cake, and as a Vietnamese, I think it is tasteless. Sorry for the emotion because I used this picture to post on my Facebook. I'm guaranteed gorgeous photos below this.
I spot the new gorgeous VNA A350 while I was at the lounge. ;)
Time for boarding,
Upon entered the aircraft, I didn't like the plain white color in the cabin. However this is the default color for boarding of Vietnam Airlines, so I don't expect they will change it. They should have a better lighting to promote their new air crafts. In overall, it was still impressive, if you look back at the old 772 and 332. The seat itself is really nice at 1-2-1 with better privacy.
In order to have 4 Star on Skytrax, they pretty improve their on board service into a new level. Not totally perfect, but as a frequent flyer of VNA, I can point out the differences. Instead of bottled juice, fresh juice is now served (Mint juice & water melon) with the new designed glass.
The seats are at 1-2-1 herringbone provide better privacy than the old 772 and 332. However it is very narrow compared to the old 332 J class. When entering the seat, my shoes were accidentally kicked to the interior making a scratch to the seat because it was so tight and squeeze. What I don't like is the color of the seat is very different to the concept image that they introduced recently.
The middle seats look close to each other but you can't really see or talk to each other.
Take off was really smooth and there was almost no sound. Since this was midnight flight, breakfast will be served 90 minutes before arrival. Therefore, I ordered its new flagship's cocktail as a part of 4 star service. TBH, it was really good and sparkling. It is something that I really do recommend and they have 3 flavours with funny but great names.
After the cocktail, I started to explore the 180 flat-bed/ seat. This control panel is simple just like everything in the cabin. I think they try to limit the interior cost as much as possible, so it tends to look very plain and white. I found that there were quite many storages. The USB port worked fine, however it took 5 hours to recharge 20% of my phone :O. I didn't think the 110V plug was working probably…
The bed is spacious at length but narrow at width so I find this maybe a trouble for tall and chubby people. There is no turndown service for Vietnam Airlines, but this was just 5-hour flight so who needs it?
My 1K seat was broken unfortunately. There was a huge gap in the middle when I flatted the seat. So i had to find another seat. There were only 3 people in the cabin so I was freely to walk around to take photo.
I think this last seat was the best place for me to take a nap. There was something very funny about those J seats as when I flatted it. It made a very noisy sound (like crinkle a thick plastic bag) whenever I turned my body.
Before sleeping, I snapped some pictures of the cabin and take a look at the Y cabin. As this aircraft is used for Japan leg. There was no Premium Economy. I believe at this stage they have 2 aircrafts with this setting. The window seats has the A.C on the top so I can control the temperature as I want. However, the noise from that A.C holes are crazy in contrast to how quite this aircraft was. The crew didnt turn off the light so I had to request them to turn it off so I can sleep.
After having a 3 hours of closing my eyes (I don't think I slept), breakfast was served.
I have to point out this as this is one of the main element to define an airlines. The food was dramatically changed in term of flavors. The presentation was so so but they are very tasty. I had same flights couple times last year and previous years, those breakfasts weren't eatable before. It is MUCH better now.
Now they have drink menu separately with food menu. I like the new design and color of this menu as it looks really elegant.
The Japanese main dish was fantastic just like at a traditional restaurant in Japan. The short grain rice was perfectly cooked and the ingredients were fresh and tasty. My friend had Pho and it was okay. The soup was great although it looked pretty white and plain. The airlines claimed that they have just upgraded all the J class cutlery as well as new ceramics. However I found that they still used the old collection with some minor updates such as wine glass, and soft drink glass. However I'm happy with this Lotus collection because I found it is quite unique.
I only did a quick play with the entertainment system because I'm not a fan of it. Overall it was pretty the same with the 332. The content was the same, so however the screen is HD, the content quality was still SD.
After breakfast, it took around 40 minutes before landing to NRT. It was a very smooth flight and I quickly went to Tokyo DisneySea as the first thing I always do when arriving Tokyo.
In overall, VNA offers this route with a new B787 so it is really much more impressive than the replaced 332. The J cabin feels a bit plain so hopefully they can update the interior for the upcoming aircraft. There is no way I can compare this to another 787' airlines. VNA really needs to improve a lots from service and food. In another perspective as a frequent VN300 pax, I think it is definitely a huge improvement for VNA. Onboard Wifi was working for this flight, but it required a purchase and it could only use for Viber and messenger only (no WEB). Later on, they will relaunch the onboard shopping called LotuShop. I redeemed this flight for 56k VNA miles (it was 35k couple years ago) before they increased the new ridiculous rate (it is 90k for 1 way now for a 5-6 hours flight). Therefore, I also redeemed the same flight VN300, VN301 for using later this July and December before they increased it so I will have other reviews on this same route again so see if they have any improvement as they nearly double the award rate.
Cabin crew 7.5
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge - Domestic Terminal
Ho Chi Minh City - SGN
Tokyo - NRT
In overall, VNA offers this route with a new B787 so it is really much more impressive than the replaced 332. The J cabin feels a bit plain so hopefully they can update the interior for the upcoming aircraft. There is no way I can compare this to another 787' airlines. VNA really needs to improve a lots from service and food although food was greater. In another perspective as a frequent VN300 pax, I think it is definitely a huge improvement for VNA. The crews are friendly enough because lots of them now are in young generation. Onboard Wifi was working for this flight, but it required a purchase and it could only use for Viber and messenger only (no WEB). Later on, they will relaunch the onboard shopping called LotuShop. I redeemed this flight for 56k VNA miles (it was 35k couple years ago) before they increased the new ridiculous rate (it is 90k for 1 way now for a 5-6 hours flight). Therefore, I also redeemed the same flight VN300, VN301 for using later this July and December before they increased it so I will have other reviews on this same route again so see if they have any improvement as they nearly double the award rate.
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