Vietnam Airlines offers impressive onboard service and a great business class seat onbroad its new A350s. Even so, the soft product was disappointing.
After arriving in Ho Chi Minh City from Doha, I proceeded to the transit counter and quickly obtained a boarding pass for my connecting flight.
I left the lounge about 10 minutes before scheduled boarding at 10:15p, 40 minutes prior to departure. That was bit premature, as boarding did not begin until 10:30p. Even then, the flight was so lightly booked we still pushed back on time.
Vietnam Airlines 31
Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Wednesday, January 17
Duration: 13hr 35min
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat: 6A (Business Class)
The cabin color scheme is rather drab, but the cabin was extremely clean and the lack of overhead bins over the center section gave the cabin a very open feel. A very friendly FA in a bright green uniform welcomed me onboard and directed me to my seat.
Vietnam Airlines A350 Business Class Seat
As I mentioned in my teaser post, Vietnam Airlines has taken delivery of 10 A350 aircraft since 2015. The first five were delivered with staggered business class seating like you find on Alitalia, Iberia, and some British Airways flights. The latest five feature reverse-herringbone seats, nearly identical to what I’ve reviewed on Finnair, KLM, and China Airlines. I was happy to find the new confirmation onboard.
As I settled into 6A, I noted the spaciousness of the seat. To my right, a storage compartment with sufficient room for my laptop, cables, and passport. To my left, more storage and a clear view out two windows. Seat controls, a power port, and a passenger service unit (remote control for the IFE) were all within reach.
The seat is comfortable in all positions. Unfortunately, a rather lumpy pillow and downright economy-class-style blanket made for a less restful sleep.
Vietnam Airlines A350 Business Class Service
I enjoyed the warm hospitality onboard. The ladies serving business class were extremely attentive and kind. Not just friendly, but kind.
After going a day without sleeping and stressed over a 13-hour flight without wi-fi, I had a pretty bad headache early on in the flight. Consequently, I turned down all alcohol and drank just water. One FA kiddingly questioned why I did not want any wine with dinner, but when I explained the situation she immediately mothered me for the rest of the flight. She offered an extra blanket, extra water bottle, and frequently stopped by seat to see how I was doing.
That meant so much to me…it showed genuine care.
The male purser, meanwhile, was also quite friendly, but after the meal service took the open seat behind me, 7A, and ended up snoring for the next eight hours. Loudly…
I was not able to sleep for most of the flight and woke up about five hours before landing, hungry. Pressing the call button, a FA immediately showed up and was happy to offer me a snack.
Overall, the crew was excellent and certainly a high point of the flight.
One other note: hot towel service was frequent. Four times, including once upon boarding, before dinner, before breakfast, and prior to landing.
Vietnam Airlines A350 Business Class IFE
After takeoff, I browed the IFE selection. It contained a selection of roughly 25 English movies. Limited TV programming and games plus an extensive audio library were also available.
Unlike my previous flight, I avoided watching movies and tried my best to sleep instead.
Like the blanket, the headphones were straight out of economy class…
Vietnam Airlines A350 Business Class Food
Meal service on this late-night departure included dinner after takeoff and breakfast prior to landing. Prior to takeoff, a choice of juice or champagne was offered.
Here’s the food and drink menus for the flight.
Note the two pages of cocktail options: I was impressed. Less so by the meal service.
The “supper” service after takeoff was frankly underwhelming for a flight of over 13 hours. No nuts or amuse bouche, no soup, and no salad.
Instead, just a rather pathetic beef terrine or smoked salmon as an appetizer followed by the main course. Actually, I was not even offered a choice of appetizer: the beef terrine arrived on my tray along with dessert, a “Vietnamese style sweet soup”. Garlic bread was delicious, though.
I chose rack of lamb for my main course and it was nicely presented and delicious. Sides included cherry tomatoes, green beans, squash, bell pepper, onion mushrooms, and gnocchi.
For a flight of this length, I think Vietnam Airlines should provide additional courses and not serve the appetizer and dessert together on a tray. It is my understanding, however, that on the earlier departures the meal service is far more substantial.
I enjoyed a cup of green tea before trying to sleep.
A bit more than halfway through the flight I was wide awake and hungry again. A FA offered either a sandwich or nuts as a snack. I chose nuts, which included a few cashews but mostly crackers and wasabi peas.
Breakfast was served almost two hours prior to landing. While that is normally too early, since I was wide awake and hungry I welcomed the breakfast. I ordered the Spanish omelet, which included peppers and cheese inside and bacon and tomato on the side. Also on the breakfast tray, a stale croissant, fruit, and bircher muesli. I ordered a cappuccino, which was powdered.
Overall, meal service was a letdown on Vietnam Airlines due to the limited quantity. The food itself was good for the most part…
Vietnam Airlines A350 Business Class Amenity Kit
A simple amenity kit contained Acca Kappa amenities, socks, eyeshade, ear plugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a comb. There were also stickers intended for the seat to indicate whether I wanted to be woken up for meal service or duty free.
I liked that the amenity kit also included a packing list:
Slippers were also offered.
Vietnam Airlines A350 Business Class Lavatory
The lavatory onboard was clean and included a nice flower above the sink, but no additional amenities. Annoyingly, not only were there no real towels, but not even any paper towels: just tissue.
Later in the flight, I noticed hand creme and shaving kits had been added.
We landed in Frankfurt over an hour early (in the midst of torrential rain). I quickly passed through immigration, hopped on the S8 toward Mainz, and arrived at my hotel within an hour of touching down. While I would not hesitate to fly Vietnam Airlines again for the great service and comfortable seat, I was disappointed by the in-flight meals and especially the lack of decent bedding.