Now for the more interesting flight after 3 nights in Halong & Hanoi, Vietnam Airlines domestic from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Some fun facts, apparently, the HAN-SGN route is the longest domestic route within Vietnam. In fact, HAN-SGN is of a longer distance than SGN-SIN!!
12 May 2010 Vietnam Airlines VN 217 Hanoi (HAN) - Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) A330-200 (was scheduled to be a A330-300 which went tech) VN-A372 Economy Class
The check-in for VN217 opened 2hrs before STD. The Hanoi airport terminal looked quite run-down and check-in desks were allocated for specific flights even though they were all operated by VN. 3 counters were allocated for our flight today. Both domestic and international flights shared the same terminal but different security check areas. Definitely not a first world standard airport terminal.
Checking in for the flight
A VN B772ER at the gate & a TG A300 taxiing for takeoff
Security was painless as it was a domestic flight and we entered the departure. The domestic departure hall was just rows of chairs with a cafe, a bar and a convenience store, as well as VN's business class lounge.
Soon, our scheduled A330-300 arrived from SGN. Note the white nosecone.
Our STD was 1230hrs. However, by 1215hrs, boarding was still not announced. I had the feeling that our flight would be delayed and how right I was when the ground staff announced that our flight would be delayed till 1430hrs due to a change of aircraft. I suspect that our A333 has some technical problems. However, VN arranged lunch for all the pax, which consisted of either a bowl of noodles or packet of fried rice and a tea/bottle of water, all from the only cafe in the domestic departure hall. It was a madhouse as all pax scrambled to the small little cafe to exchange their boarding pass for the free meal.
The free lunch provided by VN. It was ok but not filling.
Nothing much else to do but some plane-spotting: SQ B777-200 departing for Singapore
VN A320 departing for some domestic destination
Jetstar Pacific just arrived.
At about 1345hrs, buses pulled up to our gate. It seems that we would be departing from a remote gate instead. Wondering what aircraft would we swap to??
The A333 being towed away from the gate, probably for maintenance?
Knowing that some seats would be changed as VN has only 1 A330-300 and any other aircraft that we were swapped onto would definitely not be a A333, I was curious if there would be any chaos during boarding. While the gate agents checked our boarding passes, they had stickers of new seat numbers which they would paste over the original seat numbers on the boarding passes. However, our seats were not changed. We then go through the aerobridge and down onto the tarmac to the buses which would bring us to our aircraft. It was an opportunity to tour the airport tarmac! Eventually we pulled up next to a newish A330-200. New aircraft model for me!! All of VN's A332s are ex-Swiss and so retained Swiss's seats and configurations.
Pulling up to our plane.
Boarding via stairs from the rear door.
The flaps were not fully retracted and were at their take-off configuration.
Boarding in progress. We were welcomed by 2 male crew members at the door. Newspapers were available on a trolley at the aircraft door too! Boarding music and video were played on the PTVs.
Seat pitch was pretty generous!
Stuff in the seat pocket. Inflight magazine, safety card and airsick bag.
After all pax boarded, doors were closed. We were welcomed aboard by the purser.
During the welcome announcement, refreshing tissues were handed out by the crew.
Safety demo was then shown. The safety demonstration was done manually.
We then taxied to the runway for takeoff.
Takeoff for SGN!
Fasten seatbelt signs turned off.
Airshow on PTV. This is my only entertainment throughout the flight. The only forms of entertainment were either the airshow or a short silent documentary about soccer. No headphones were given out and no other entertainment were available on the PTVs. There were also no entertainment listings in the inflight magazine for both long/short haul flights. Wonder how is the IFE programming like for the longer haul international flights.
Shortly after seatbelt signs were turned off, lunch service started. We were offered a choice of either pork with rice or fish with noodles. Along with the meal were a fresh fruits. Juices/soft drinks were also offered and coffee/tea service was conducted after the meal service. The crew were pleasant and polite yet efficient.
Received my meal with an orange juice.
Had the pork with rice. It was standard airplane food. Not excellent but not too bad.
Close-up of the meal
Cabin view after meal service
The sun is setting and descent just started.
Approaching Ho Chi Minh City.
Speedbrakes up, flaps down
Landing into Ho Chi Minh City. The airport is right smack in the middle of the city!
Taxi to the domestic terminal. Note the flaps are not fully retracted again.
Other VN aircraft also did not fully retract their flaps. Guess this is the airline's SOP.
Thank you for flying Vietnam Airlines!
View of the business class seats while deplaning.
Hanoi - HAN
Ho Chi Minh City - SGN
Vietnam Airlines offers a reasonably good product for the route. Other than the delay, the rest of the flight was comfortable. However, they would still have a long way to catch up with the other powerhouse airlines in Asia.
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