Lindy Alexander

Apart from one lucky upgrade to the pointy end of the plane, I seem to have always been destined to travel in Economy Class… that was, until I flew with Vietnam Airlines.

I recently had the opportunity to fly Business Class with Vietnam Airlines from Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam is fast becoming a must-visit destination, and I was excited to check out the airline, which is leading one of the fastest growing domestic markets in the world.

Here’s what I thought of the flight:

 

CHECK IN AND PRE-BOARDING

Flying Business Class means skipping the queues and getting priority check-in at Melbourne International Airport (Terminal 2). The check-in staff member was very pleasant and efficient and directed me to the Qantas Lounge as Vietnam Airlines don’t have a Lotus Lounge in Melbourne.

Breakfast was on offer in the lounge, and many travellers were taking advantage of the plentiful spread of hot breakfast items, pastries, cereals, fruit, yoghurt, toast, booze and barista-made coffee. It’s a pretty decent range, and I was particularly impressed that they had a dedicated gluten-free section (complete with a gluten-free toaster), but you don’t want to fill up too much before you get on board. I was glad I only had a cup of tea and a pastry.

 

THE CABIN & SEAT

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Vietnam Airlines Amenities Kit

The Business Class cabin configuration on the A350 is a 1-2-1 set up with 29 seats. While all seats have aisle access, single travellers probably get a little more privacy if they select a window seat.

The cabin is bright and modern with plenty of overhead room, adding to the feeling of spaciousness. I was in seat 3D, and it was comfortable, with all the features you’d need. I used the wide bench to put my items on, an ample storage bay next to my seat to store the novel I was reading and an A4 notepad, and the USB charging point for my phone. There’s also a three-pronged round power socket, but my computer was fully charged, so I didn’t use it. There’s also a handy drink holder underneath the wide shelf.

There’s no wi-fi on Vietnam Airlines’ planes, which didn’t worry me, but for some business travellers, it may be inconvenient.

There’s a simple Charriol amenities kit, which includes moisturising lotion, lip balm, comb, eye mask, toothbrush and paste, socks, earplugs and a double-sided “wake me up for duty-free”/“wake me up for meals” sticker.

Because it was a day flight I didn’t lie flat, but a pillow, slippers and blanket are provided should you wish to get some shuteye. There’s also a handset to control the entertainment system, but the touch-screen is so responsive, the handset is almost redundant.

 

THE ENTERTAINMENT

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The entertainment screen is a generous 27cm, and there’s a decent choice of movies, TV shows, podcasts and music in both English and Vietnamese. I don’t like watching anything too demanding on planes so as a latecomer to the Pitch Perfect phenomenon, I decided on Pitch Perfect 3, which had me entertained and giggling throughout.

Then I watched Battle of the Sexes, a movie about tennis champion Billie Jean King and ex-champion and serial hustler Bobby Riggs, which made me determined to find out more about this extraordinary episode in women’s tennis.

 

THE MEALS

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Dinner (Curry & Rice) on Vietnam Airlines

As soon as I was comfortable and seated, I was offered a warm face towel followed by a glass of juice (orange or apple) or champagne.

Being vegetarian, I’m used to getting the short end of the stick when it comes to airline meals. But happily, this experience was different. Around 45 minutes after takeoff I received all kinds of goodies with my lunch that my meat-eating neighbours didn’t seem to receive. I got a “naked” chocolate mud bar, dried fruit and a pack of Mexican trail mix.

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Vegetarian Meal on Vietnam Airlines

Lunch was a zesty chickpea and tomato salad followed by a generous serve of mushroom cannelloni with a tomato and spinach sauce. Served with a green salad, chargrilled asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and a warm bread roll, it was a filling and delicious lunch. Dessert was a chocolate ganache encased in chewy coconut.

When the flight attendant asked if I’d like cheese, fruit, bite-sized cakes or ice cream I was too full to accept, but I was tempted. Tea was served once my dishes were cleared.

Two flavourful curries (beans and eggplant) with rice were served for dinner an hour and a half before landing.

 

THE VERDICT

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The cabin was extremely quiet, and the crew were all friendly, polite and attentive without being intrusive.

The cabin lights were dimmed around 1.30pm, which seemed a little odd, especially given Vietnam is three hours behind Melbourne, but overall the flight was cosy and comfortable. I liked the idea of a daytime flight as it meant I could catch up on work uninterrupted, but also have some down time to watch movies.

I arrived in Ho Chi Minh feeling refreshed and very well fed.

 

THE DETAILS

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A350-900 Image By: Vietnam Airlines

Flight: VN 780, Melbourne – Ho Chi Minh City
Class: Business Class, Seat 3D
Aircraft: A350
Timing: 8.30 hours, departing 10:35, arriving (Melbourne time) 19:05

 

What do you love about Vietnam?