The airline with the best average rating is Cathay Dragon with 8.1/10.
The average flight time is 2 hours and 0 minutes.More information
Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by this report. This is the continuation of our trip to Vietnam that became a reality after a Cathay Pacific "mistake" fare that was honored. Feel free to visit the SNA-ORD report for more background on the planning, etc.
Arriving from Nha Tran (CXR) in the domestic terminal necessitated a quick shuttle bus ride to the international terminal. There was virtually no wait and the trip was about 5 minutes.
At the International Terminal (Terminal 2) we located the luggage storage desk and left our bags for the day while we walked around Hanoi. Please check out the "tourist bonus" section for a few shots of the city.
We returned to Noi Bai International Airport (NIA) Terminal 2 after about 5 hours in town. Porbably 90 minutes of that time was in the taxi going back and forth.
The terminal is bright and modern. We arrived at a lull in departures/check ins as there was very little in the way of crowds.
Likewise security and immigration were quick and we were off to locate "NIA Business Lounge" which seems to be the lounge you use if you are not flying Vietnam Airlines.
The entrance is up one level from departures.
The lounge is large and has great natural light. Ramp and runway views abound! Unfortunately much of the seating is so crammed together you cannot access the center seats, should it be sufficiently crowded, without significant effort and forget about having your luggage near by. It's really rather mind boggling to stack all of this furniture on top of each with no room for egress.
There is a small amount of seating that isn't cramped but you have to trade the good views.
There are several massage chairs available.
Lockers to store your luggage because you can't put it near your seat.
There is a private VIP/meeting room for amputees.
Bathrooms were spacious with shower facilities.
Dining consists of several hot dishes and a wide variety of cold dishes.
Don't eat this bread.
Semi-made-to-order pho was available.
Rather poor adult beverage selection.
Jennifer gave the pho a try. It wasn't very high quality.
I opted for a vodka tonic and chips.
Cocktail with a view.
Quite a variety of aircraft visit HAN, apparently. A 767-400, really?
The sun set and so did our time in the lounge. boarding was underway as we arrived at gate 32.
Seating on this Dragonair A330-300 was in the regional 2-2-2 configuration. The aircraft had a first class and I wondered why our A fare tickets didn't ticket in F on this segment but quickly reminded myself of the circumstances of the tickets and let that go quickly.
These seats are premium economy seats at best but for a 90 minute flight they are perfectly good.
Pre departure drinks were offered from a tray. I cannot recall the name of the drink with the lemongrass stalk.
The "hot towel" service was int he form of a package. I found something make use of these smart phone holders.
Headphones on offer.
I was somewhat surprised when menus were distributed for this 90 minute flight. With a choice of main course and full bar service, no less.
As you would expect the service started as quickly after takeoff as possible. Base trays with appitizer were placed and choice of beverage offered. I opted for a glass of the Domaine Langlois-Chateau 2016, a Chenin Blanc.
Bread was passed from a basket. The garlic bread was excellent.
Chicken with tamarind sauce was OK.
Dessert was served as a separate course along with coffee, tea or digestif. The crew was simply amazing in how they carried out the service. With such a small window of time they were working hard but nothing about the service felt rushed.
Very shortly after the service items were cleared the cabin was prepared for arrival.
Yay, remote parking!
We took a taxi to the Hilton Hanoi Opera only because we're staying there on the next trip and I wanted to have a look. Also, it was a place I could identify to tell the driver. We really only looked around the lobby, used the restrooms, and then went on walk about.
Hanoi is a lovely walking city partially on account of colonial history. The wide tree lined streets are well shaded and spacious. The architecture reflects the same.
The late American TV host called Anthony Bourdain has been a great influence on Jennifer and me, and countless others, by inspiring us to travel and explore culture through food. Before we were parents we would watch an episode of his show and plan a trip around it. I would have never thought to visit Penang if not for his episode filmed there. Therefore, It was a necessary pilgrimage to visit a Bun Cha shop where he filmed his show and met with US President (at the time of filming) Barack Obama. Off to Bun Cha Huong Lien like countless American tourists
The store is proud of this moment in history and this is prominently displayed inside.
The menu offers the "Combo Obama."
This was my first time enjoying Bun Cha and was instantly a fan. I found the raw garlic and chili were excellent foils to the sweeter than expected broth. The grilled meats were rich and flavorful while the herbs were aromatic and light.
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The lovely food aside the experience was very poignant and a reminder of my affection for Bourdain. Life is so fragile and is not always as it appears on the surface. I still miss him very much.
After lunch we had time for a leisurely walk around the lake and a coffee before heading back to the airport.
The Ground Service: Check in was quick at the dedicated Business counter and we received boarding passes and lounge invitations all the way to JFK.
The Lounge: I found the lounge to pretty good for a contract lounge serving a wide variety of airlines. I do think whomever arranged the furniture should be educated on how people have to have space to walk adjacent tot eh furniture in order to occupy said furniture.
The Cabin: I don't care for this regional J product in most circumstances but for a 90 minute flight it's perfectly fine. The recline is limited, the padding is poor and the resolution on the IFE is woeful.
The Crew: Super impressed with the way the crew operated. It's a large task to serve a 3 course meal in 90 minutes. They did it with grace and precision and seemingly no rushed. This is my second Dragonair flight and both crews have been exceptional.
The Food and Beverage: Way above expectation for a 90 minute flight departing at 20:00. Menu, choice of main dishes and full bar service with Champagne.
Overall: A great flight to end a great day. It's sad to leave Vietnam but knowing we will return in 6 months time makes it a bit easier.