For my recent blizzard Korea trip (blizzard because I was crazy enough to decide and then buy the plane tickets 2 days before flying. It was my most frivolous trip yet haha) , I flew with Vietnamese Airlines and had more than 17 hours of layover in total, in Noi Bai Airport.
Being the Budget conscious traveller I am and having bought my tickets this late meant I had little flight choices. I went with the cheapest flight from Vietnam Airline. It cost me $496.03, tax and booking fee included.
Vietnamese airline offers a wide range of flight timings to Seoul and Busan. However, they pretty much all have layovers in Hanoi Airport. check out my short write up of my time at the Hanoi Airport transit/departure area.
Having layovers twice meant I took 4 different air planes. And I'm here with a short entry about my experience with Vietnam airline.
This is what my flight itinerary looks like. For my trip, I sat 3 different types of planes.
Air Bus 321
For the shorter distance trip between Singapore and Hanoi, it was an Air bus 321. The Airbus 321 was small and had minimal amenities. There is no in-flight entertainment but the space for each seat is pretty spacious imho. No blankets and pillows were provided for this flight but you can always ask the Stewardess for it if you need. Disposable razors, tooth brush with toothpaste sets and sanitary napkins were available in the toilet.
Air Bus A330
For the trip between Hanoi and Busan, the fleet was an Airbus A330. For the particular fleet I took, it seemed a little older. Seats were spacious enough and there was an extremely dated looking inflight entertainment system. The screen was 4:3 LOL. Disposable razors, tooth brush with toothpaste sets and sanitary napkins were available in the toilet.
Air Bus 350-900
For the flight from Seoul to Singapore, I had an Airbus 350 and it was the best fleet yet! The seats were spacious and everything felt clean and new. Especially love the big inflight entertainment system screen that supports both touch screens and remote controlling. The movie archive was impressive with relatively new titles such as Disney’s “Inside Out” and “Spectre” in HD. The seats were not shabby either with ample space for you to stretch your legs. Disposable razors, tooth brush with toothpaste sets and sanitary napkins were available in the toilet.
The staff were awesome and gave most of us an entire row to ourselves, depending on whether we want to sit by the aisle or by the window. I love how they understand and are not stingy with this arrangement unlike Budget airlines.
For more information about the fleets servicing Vietnam AIrlines, pop over to their official website here.
The stewards and Stewardess along with the counter staffs were all pretty hospitable. I had no problem with any of them and when I ask for something, they would remember and get back to me. The staff at the check in counters were generally nice and accommodating. They advised me against going out of the airport during my 6 hr 40 Mins layover, citing traffic and other delays as reasons.
For a more indepth review of Noi Bai Airport’s Terminal 2 departure/ transit zone, pop over to my other write up.
Overall, I’d say Noi Bai Airport Terminal 2’s transit area is pretty cool. It was inauguarate in January 2015 thus the newer facilities, brighter space and abundance of lounging seats. There are Business Lounges available at a price of USD 20. Body and feet massaging services are also available along with plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops.
30kg of checked in baggage and 7kg of Cabin baggage were allocated to each passenger. More than enough for most travellers!
I'm not sure was it because I was hungry or were the food really yummy. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and finished most of my food, which is quite unlike me. The main dishes were mostly Asian dishes such as shrimp congee, chicken/Beef stir fried with rice or Curry Chicken/Beef with rice. The food were flavourful and had just the right mix of fiber, protein and carbo. Exactly my style!
The Flight experience was generally very smooth with little turbulence and disturbance. Unlike many other airlines that like to bombard passengers with endless announcements, Vietnam Airlines had a much more relaxed and accommodating attitude. I really hate it when I'm Movie marathon-ing and the crew just goes on and on in multiple languages, disrupting my movie time.
Much to my own surprise, I actually really enjoyed my flight with Vietnam Airline. Prior to flying with them, I’ve read a lot of negative reviews of them online and was prepared to be disappointed. But the entire experience had been pretty joyful! I particularly liked how the counter staff spread out the passengers and allowed us to have more personal space. Something Budget Airlines don’t usually do.
The only drawback was the long layovers and the sheer fact that it’s not a direct flight. It’s a waste of time for the working adults and also a waste of money. I had a 11 hour layover in Noi Bai Airport on my trip back and I had to rent a Sleeping Pod. The additional cost can add up. If you’re looking to maximise your time by making a day trip to the city, I’d have to inform you that you have to take all your baggage with you. Vietnam Airline will only process and hold onto your checked-in baggage if you do not leave the departure/transit zone. If you do leave, you would have to take everything with you and then go through the entire check-in process again for the connecting flight. Which is why I always advise travelling light, when you’re light and nimble, your options open up instantly!
Overall, Vietnam Airline surpasses my expectation, offers competitive prices and serves up a decent flight experience. However if time is not your asset, a direct flight might serve you better.