I flew in the Business class cabin on flight VN50 operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Flying time was just under 12 hours non-stop from London Heathrow to Ho Chi Minh City.
London Heathrow Terminal 4 was very busy at 8.00 am on a weekday morning but there were no queues at Vietnam Airlines’ Business class check-in and I was welcomed by a smart and friendly Ben who told me I could use the fast track service.
My luggage was checked into my final destination of Da Nang which required a change of planes in Ho Chi Minh. There are no visa requirements for UK citizens entering Vietnam.
I watched the crew arrive for work and was impressed by the smart camel coats worn by the females over their distinctive ‘ao dai’ Vietnamese uniform.
The airline uses the Blush Lounge for Business passengers. Operated by Plaza Premium, the lounge is shared with EL AL and serves kosher food on request. Self-service breakfast choices included cereals, yoghurts, fruit, cheeses and scrambled eggs.
It is a light and comfortable lounge with large windows overlooking the runway. There are no toilet or shower facilities and, as there are no departure boards, I had to keep an eye on the time.
Business class seating is in eight rows in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout totalling 28 seats. My seat 2D was one of two adjoining in the centre and carefully designed with curved dividing panels to retain privacy.
The colour scheme is beige throughout and the airline’s lotus flower emblem is embroidered into the seat which has a leather headrest. My seat is roomy with plenty of storage space, a table to one side and a footrest with more storage space underneath. There are beige slippers, a blanket, a pillow and a duvet – sadly all wrapped in plastic.
I discover the overhead light, USB socket and IFE remote for the seatback screen which swivels out when in use. The headsets are very basic with separate earpads which I had to apply.
I am surprised to find a very high-quality inflight magazine, Heritage, written in Vietnamese and English with some interesting features and stunning photography.
The crew uniform for females is a traditional ‘ao dai’ tunic design in yellow for Business and blue for Economy over white trousers. Men wear blue suits and white shirts.
Once seated I was warmly welcomed and offered a choice of Champagne, orange juice or water with a bowl of cashew nuts and shown the menu for dinner and breakfast.
The safety film is a hilarious series of films of crew in traditional costume in different locations around Vietnam demonstrating all aspects of flight safety including putting on oxygen masks in the countryside! Not sure I took it all in.
Mood lighting helped me to adjust my body clock to Vietnamese time (seven hours ahead) and I was served my lunch of smoked salmon with fennel salad; asparagus and courgette soup followed by crab cakes with a smoked garlic sauce and baby spinach accompanied by a choice of bread rolls. Delicious ginger ice cream was served for dessert followed by a cheese platter and mint tea. The Sauvignon Blanc came from South Africa and there was a choice of two red and two white wines. The cocktail Beloved Hue was also on offer as the airline’s signature drink designed by Mr Vo Tan Si, President of the Saigon Bartenders’ Association.
Breakfast was a choice of yoghurts, cereals and fruit and I had a delicious crayfish and noodles dish rather than take the traditional omelette, sausage and mushroom option. Excellent coffee. Although I was presented with a card menu, all the menus are now digitised and can be scanned at any time.
The inflight entertainment by Lotustar featured movies, audio, TV, games, flightpath and a children’s channel. The films were a little dated but all came in two languages.
When the lights were lowered the crew came and covered my seat with a cotton spread and made up my bed which was completely flat. The cotton duvet added to my comfort.
The crew were exceptional and highly attentive, smiling throughout. My meals were delicious and my flat-bed seat very comfortable. I thoroughly enjoyed my flight although being so close to the galley was sometimes a little noisy. I felt the one design fault was simply that the single toilet on the right-hand side of the plane could only be accessed from my side by walking through the galley. Overall, a very enjoyable and memorable flight.
The lead-in return Business class fare between London Heathrow and Ho Chi Minh is £3191 including taxes/surcharges. An APEX 5-star rated airline, Vietnam Airlines operates daily nonstop services between London Heathrow and Vietnam.