Review of Vietnam Airlines flight Singapore Ho Chi Minh City in Business

Airline Vietnam Airlines
Flight VN656
Class Business
Seat 2A
Aircraft Airbus A321
Flight time 02:15
Take-off 22 Jul 19, 20:40
Arrival at 22 Jul 19, 21:55
VN   #91 out of 138 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 194 reviews
MRTY
By 711
Published on 7th February 2020

This was the continuation of the previous Garuda Indonesia flight to Singapore from Surabaya.


Routing


After disembarking from Garuda Indonesia's flight at Changi T3, I took the people mover to T4 where the check-in desk for Vietnam Airlines is located.

Since it was still 11 AM, I still had almost 8 hours to kill in SIN, including paying a visit to the new Changi Jewel Mall adjacent to the terminal building. But, getting boarding passes for the upcoming flights would be my first priority.

Vietnam Airlines, together with Korean Air and Cathay Pacific are the full service carriers served in T4, with other LCCs such as Air Asia, Cebu Pacific and Spring Airlines.

This is the business class check-in desk for VN:
 


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I deliberately took this flight because I'd like to try VN's B787, it was advertised when I made the booking. However, the agent at the counter told me that they had an equipment swap today, and the aircraft would become their regular A321 in regional configuration, which I have tried several times before in the past. Well, seems like luck wasn't with me that day.

The agent also told me that I could peruse the Blossom Lounge, one of the two lounges available in T4 besides Cathay Pacific lounge. This happens to be a Priority Pass lounge too. But, he mentioned that I could only enter the lounge 3 hours prior to departure time and he wrote it down on the lounge invitation.
 


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Changi T4 is not connected by skytrain/people mover to the other three terminals. Instead, one has to take a shuttle bus at T2 in order to reach T4, vice versa. So, I basically just roamed around inter-terminal and spent some time at the Jewel. In order to get to the Jewel, one also has to clear immigration, the closest immigration would be at T3 since the long hallway that leads to Jewel entrance is adjacent to T3 building.

I got back to T4 in the afternoon to enter the lounge. Changi T4 marks itself as a terminal that showcases one cultural element of Singapore, which is the "Peranakan" heritage. We can find a Peranakan Gallery, a small museum with lots of old photographs of bygone era in Singaporean society, the Kebaya dress, etc. One can also watch the Peranakan Love Story inside this terminal, a show resembling a sound and light show that is projected onto the illuminated walls.
   


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The Blossom lounge itself is located at the mezzanine level and sits right across Cathay Pacific Lounge.

The main entrance of the lounge:
 


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This lounge offers everything from salad bar, hot food buffet area, hot/cold beverages, liquors, and a Laksa noodle station. I tried the Laksa which tasted delicious.
 


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Since I would overnight at SGN, I decided to freshen up and take a shower. Fortunately, this lounge offers decent shower facilities with ample amenities inside.
 


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The complimentary amenities available in each shower room:
  


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The toilet is equipped with the modern Japanese style automatic bidet too:


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Some small nibble before leaving the lounge and board the flight:
 


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BOARDING AND ON-BOARD THE AIRCRAFT

Boarding was executed in orderly manner, with elderly or family being boarded first, continued with Sky Priority & Skyteam Elite Plus passengers, and then economy class passengers. Boarding is now using the automated boarding system in which one only has to put his boarding pass into the scanner  and the gate will open. This is only usable if he/she has completed the automated immigration process as well.
  


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The purser in yellow Ao Dai greets me at the front door and I quickly found my way to my seat. As mentioned before, this A321 has VN's typical regional configuration seat where they use the recliner seat type. There is no personal IFE system inside the aircraft and the only entertainment available is from the overhead monitor playing Just For Laughs in loop.
 


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The J cabin was full that day, with 100% occupancy of 16 seats.

The seat controller is of the ancient motorized control type and the seat has one small tray that can be used to put drinking glass.
 


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The legroom is ok with about 40". I could stretch out easily and comfortably during the flight, in spite of the protruded seat structural frame that occupies some space.
 


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Boarding process was still ongoing when one of the crew showed up bringing a tray of welcome drinks of water, orange juice and apple juice. I opted for orange juice, it's served generously in a tallish glass.
  


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The seat pocket has all typical content, like the safety instruction card, airsickness bag and two types of inflight magazines called Heritage and Heritage Fashion. There was no menu available in any form and when I asked the crew if they had any in-flight shopping loaded, there was none either. Pillow and blanket were also not prepared on each seat, one has to ask for it from the crew.

After the seat belt sign was off, the crew sprung up to action. They asked each passenger one by one about their dinner preference. If I'm not mistaken, there were 2 choices of meal being offered, pork with noodle or beef with rice. I chose the pork one. She also asked me which drinks to have, and I asked if they loaded any champagne in which she said yes. So, champagne it is for me.

First, she set up the table by putting a white linen and then brought out a tray with all ingredients pre-plated on it. There was abalone salad as appetizer, the lemon dressing, butter, the main meal, and cut fruits as dessert. Another crew then came by with a bread basket and I pointed at the garlic bread. I really enjoyed all the meals, the salad was crunchy with lots of abalone chunks, the main meal itself was fulfilling. The meal was the highlight of this flight. However, I still do not have any idea on what kind of champagne I had that time since there's no single explanation from the crew.
   


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Closer look at the abalone appetizer:
 


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The rest of the flight after meal service went uneventful. Since there was nothing much to do and no view to look out from the window either,I spent time to just watch the show on the overhead monitor. I also felt a little bit exhausted and tried to get some nap.

Half an hour before landing, I asked for another cup of tea with water, and they were delivered promptly. The tea was poured inside a beautiful small cup shaped like a flower petal.
   


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The aircraft landed almost midnight at SGN, and I quickly found my way to the immigration because I intended to do some small things at Ho Chi Minh and back again to the airport some 2 hours after it. 

See more

Verdict

Vietnam Airlines

6.9/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi3.0
Meal/catering9.0

Blossom Lounge - 4

8.4/10
Comfort8.5
Meal/catering8.5
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Services7.5

Singapore - SIN

9.2/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Ho Chi Minh City - SGN

7.4/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

The meal was the highlight of this flight. Vietnam Airlines needs to replenish this outdated A321 with better hardware like IFE or wi-fi if they want to keep competitive among other competitors in the region.

Information on the route Singapore (SIN) Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)

2 Comments

  • Comment 542150 by
    hometoyyz SILVER 538 Comments

    Hi MRTY, thanks for sharing the middle part of this series!

    I still had almost 8 hours to kill in SIN

    Ah, Changi. The airport with enough to do that eight hours of layover time almost isn’t enough to get it all done. I do so love it.

    I deliberately took this flight because I'd like to try VN's B787, it was advertised when I made the booking. However, the agent at the counter told me that they had an equipment swap today, and the aircraft would become their regular A321

    I commend you for not immediately starting a riot. I would be very disappointed by this downgauge, particularly as opportunities to fly VN aren’t exactly common for North Americans like me.

    But, he mentioned that I could only enter the lounge 3 hours prior to departure time and he wrote it down on the lounge invitation.

    I feel like you might not the only person they’ve seen check in eight hours before departure. :-)

    How was The Jewel? Just for my reference — how much time would you allow to take in the sights and scenes of Jewel? An hour? A couple of hours? More? Not that I have any motive to ask, of course. No, not me.

    The lounge looks decent for a third-party lounge. Hard to believe it’s one of only two lounges. T4 is connected by an airside bus though, right? So one COULD go over to T1/2/3 for some sightseeing and lounge-hopping if one wanted to?

    and a Laksa noodle station. I tried the Laksa which tasted delicious.

    You had me at laksa. Yum.

    There is no personal IFE system inside the aircraft and the only entertainment available is from the overhead monitor playing Just For Laughs in loop.

    That has to be against some sort of international treaty, doesn’t it? Yikes. But seriously — a bit disappointing that VN opted not to include any IFE options on these birds, which could be doing segments of five hours or more.

    The J cabin was full that day, with 100% occupancy of 16 seats.

    I’m not surprised, given the last-minute equipment switcheroo.

    The seats definitely are showing their age — how old are these VN A321s?

    The food looks good, and I’d have to agree with you on the meal being the highlight.

    Thanks for sharing this, and looking forward to the conclusion. Here’s hoping for an exciting upgauge to make good for the downgrade on this sector.

    Cheers!

    • Comment 542206 by
      MRTY AUTHOR 57 Comments

      I commend you for not immediately starting a riot. I would be very disappointed by this downgauge, particularly as opportunities to fly VN aren’t exactly common for North Americans like me.

      Once you're in front of the agent, I suppose we have to take it as it is though.

      I feel like you might not the only person they’ve seen check in eight hours before departure. :-)

      Haha...it's kind of disappointing, but at least it gave me the chance to explore T4 more.

      How was The Jewel? Just for my reference — how much time would you allow to take in the sights and scenes of Jewel? An hour? A couple of hours? More? Not that I have any motive to ask, of course. No, not me.

      Well, for me I would stay there maybe just for half an hour to see that waterfall and take pictures. I'm not into shopping or dining inside the mall.

      The lounge looks decent for a third-party lounge. Hard to believe it’s one of only two lounges. T4 is connected by an airside bus though, right? So one COULD go over to T1/2/3 for some sightseeing and lounge-hopping if one wanted to?

      Yes, you're right.

      That has to be against some sort of international treaty, doesn’t it? Yikes. But seriously — a bit disappointing that VN opted not to include any IFE options on these birds, which could be doing segments of five hours or more.

      It was disappointing. They use this bird to Japan too. I can't imagine being stuck there for more than 5 hours without any sort of personal entertainment, even in business class.

      The seats definitely are showing their age — how old are these VN A321s?

      I'm not sure. But this bird has been around ever since I took my first business class flight with them back in 2015. So I guess it's been ages.

      Thanks for sharing this, and looking forward to the conclusion. Here’s hoping for an exciting upgauge to make good for the downgrade on this sector.

      Unfortunately no. I got another A321 for SGN-CGK leg.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

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