SQ772
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Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:01 am

The first half of 2007 appeared to be a hectic period for me, with numerous trips packed back to back every month. It started off with short successive trips to Hanoi/Saigon in Feb/Mar, Tokyo-Taipei in Mar, Taipei again in Apr, followed by long drawn trips to Delhi in Apr, Chennai-Mumbai in May, and finally Hanoi-Danang-Saigon in early June.

It's been quite a while since my last trip report, and I thought that with the recent spate of reports on Vietnam Airlines by a fellow Singaporean a.netter, wouldn’t it be nice if i could join in the fun and do a quick review of my own recent flight on this fast expanding carrier.

This is a review of my Hanoi-Danang sector... one of those rare occasions when I was in my trigger (camera) happy moods. Pardon the lack of narrative, I've never been good with words; I'll simply let the pictures do the talking...

After spending 2 hectic days in Hanoi, visiting various projects and meeting with countless Vietnamese counterparts, it was time to head off to Danang for another series of meetings. My colleagues and I arrived at Noi Bai International Airport at about 9 am for the late morning flight to Danang.

From a distance, Noi Bai looked like a futuristic building soaring oddly above acres of green pastures and surrounding farmland. The reality set in as our transport pulled in at the entrance of the domestic terminal. The building was well maintained, but looked completely dreary. The interior was dim, and cold; it certainly lived up to its communist heritage.















Check in was a quick affair with an expressionless VN staff serving me. I asked for an emergency exit seat, and emphasized that I wanted to stretch my tired legs; recalling my previous trip when I made the same request but was assigned a seat that had the emergency exit right BEHIND me! “No problem, there’s a window seat available”. I happily accepted my boarding pass and proceeded to the viewing gallery for the mandatory spotting.

The spiral staircase leading to the second floor where the viewing gallery is…


All quiet with a lone VN A321 parked at the gate.


With not much else to spot, I proceeded to clear security and into the boarding area. There was nothing much to do unless you wanted to purchase some overpriced souvenir or have a piping hot bowl of Pho (pronounced “Fur”) – the traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup.



Boredom set in soon after checking out the small selection of souvenirs. I decided to join my colleagues in the lounge. The lounge was, for want of a better word, basic. No food was available, only soft drinks or coffee/tea that you have to order and will be served to you by an airport staff in traditional Ao Dai. There were only 5 other passengers or so in the lounge, and 2 airport staff catching a snooze at a corner sofa that morning. The lounge was small, and could comfortably accommodate only 20 people at max.







No boarding announcements were made in the lounge, but we were informed by the lounge attendant when it was time to board.



Taking us to Danang was one of VN’s newer A321. I made my way to my seat, and was looking forward to the extra leg room that I was going to have for this short 1hr hop to Danang, when in a moment of déjà vu, I realized that I was once again allocated a seat that had the emergency exit BEHIND me!! It seemed to me that on VN, every seat within 2 meters radius of an emergency exit was considered an emergency seat?! I couldn’t believe my luck… Fortunately, VN offered generous pitch on its A321.












Inflight Magazine - Heritage, and a copy of Heritage Fashion




Push back commenced soon after all passengers were settled in. A short taxi later, we took off and headed south towards Danang. Cabin crew swung into action once the seat belt signs were switched off. On this short flight, snack boxes with VN’s pride and joy, the 777-200ER on its cover, were handed out to every passenger. Soft drinks and mineral water were available on the cart as well, but you had to ask the crew for it. Otherwise, they would assume that the tiny cup of water that was in your snack box was all that you needed. Service on board was fast, and efficient. The crew looked tired but managed a smile when they served passengers.

The Vietnamese have a long way to go when it comes to packaging...not the most attractive looking snack box.





Crackers, ham and cheese sandwich, mineral water and wet-wipe. Not too shabby for a 1 hr hop!






The meal service was completed in a mere 15 minutes, and the crew swiftly cleared all snack boxes and prepared the cabin for arrival. Moments later, the aircraft started its decent. No announcement from the cockpit was made throughout the flight. Announcements by the crew were made in Vietnamese followed by inaudible English.


Circling over Danang Airport




We touched down right on schedule in sunny Danang, and I had my last look at the emergency exit seat that I was not fated to have…









In contrast to Hanoi and Saigon, Danang is a quiet resort town that was surprisingly clean and new. If you are ever in Danang, make sure you check yourself into the Furama Resort. One of the few hotels there that has its own private beach! Here are some pictures of the picturesque China Beach - Furama Resort, Danang





This will definitely be my next vacation destination.

Check in - 4/10 (for screwing up my request for an EMEX seat for the second time!!)
Inflight Service - 7/10 (efficient, polite and at least they smile)
Cabin Crew - Very young, good looking and well-groomed


[Edited 2007-07-06 23:12:08]
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pilotfox
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:12 am

Nice report. Hanoi's airport looks quite modern looking compared to Saigon's airport.
 
SQ772
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:19 am

Yes it is, for now at least.... check out Saigon's soon to be open international terminal 2.







[Edited 2007-07-06 23:20:38]
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Ryanair!!!
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:45 am

Quoting SQ772 (Thread starter):
From a distance, Noi Bai looked like a futuristic building soaring oddly above acres of green pastures and surrounding farmland.

Actually, this sounds like the rest of Vietnam. Futuristic structures sticking out like sore thumbs...

Quoting SQ772 (Thread starter):
I asked for an emergency exit seat, and emphasized that I wanted to stretch my tired legs; recalling my previous trip when I made the same request but was assigned a seat that had the emergency exit right BEHIND me!



Quoting SQ772 (Thread starter):
I realized that I was once again allocated a seat that had the emergency exit BEHIND me!! It seemed to me that on VN, every seat within 2 meters radius of an emergency exit was considered an emergency seat?!

Remember what happened to my 35K fiasco in Saigon? Once again, it boils down to the problem of language.

Quoting SQ772 (Thread starter):
The Vietnamese have a long way to go when it comes to packaging...not the most attractive looking snack box.

Actually, it would be nice if they colored the whole box in the corporate VN blue with a small golden lotus at the corner, that would have been sufficient. Now the snack box looks like a large packaging from Dragon Wings!
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USCGC130
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sat Jul 07, 2007 12:18 pm

I'm curious why the flaps and slats were left extended while the airplane was parked at the gate at Danang...
 
SQ772
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sat Jul 07, 2007 12:37 pm

Quoting USCGC130 (Reply 4):
I'm curious why the flaps and slats were left extended while the airplane was parked at the gate at Danang...

This appears to be a standard practice on VN for all remote bay operations. Someone, or was it Ryanair!! commented the same thing in another VN trip report.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 3):
Actually, it would be nice if they colored the whole box in the corporate VN blue with a small golden lotus at the corner, that would have been sufficient. Now the snack box looks like a large packaging from Dragon Wings!

Yes, the VN blue would have been nice. I didn't know you had that artistic streak in you  Wink
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SIN7
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sat Jul 07, 2007 2:46 pm

Very nice photos of the airport and a/c.
Love the blue on VN a/c. They really made a good change from their previous a/c color scheme. The white and blue Soviet Aeroflot looking design. I really like designs and color on their seat fabric. It somehow made the cabin bright and cheery. The BCL seats are in blue though. I much prefer the EYCL.

For an hour flight, the refreshments provided finger sandwiches, crackers and drinks are pretty good. Yep, the packaging design could be spruced up. I've always admired the food packaging designs QF and NZ uses from its suppliers. Simple yet stylish. Even the simple water cup foil cover from NZ look so much better than SQ's (If I'm not wrong, produced by SATS Catering).

The resort looks awesome. I'm already taking notes down for my next trip. Hope it won't be pack with people when I go there. I must always have my vacation with the school breaks. What a lousy time!

Thanks for sharing. See ya on Sun.
 
SQ772
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sat Jul 07, 2007 3:56 pm

Quoting SIN7 (Reply 6):
For an hour flight, the refreshments provided finger sandwiches, crackers and drinks are pretty good. Yep, the packaging design could be spruced up. I've always admired the food packaging designs QF and NZ uses from its suppliers. Simple yet stylish. Even the simple water cup foil cover from NZ look so much better than SQ's (If I'm not wrong, produced by SATS Catering).

I completely agree with you. Some of these airlines really do make the effort when it comes to design and packaging. Not sure if you've seen SK's salt and pepper sachets, or even little things that come with the flight. Simple yet classy. This is something that many Asian carriers still haven't go the hang of (yes that includes SQ).

The water cup out of SIN is packed by SATS. But I believe the design came from SQ. It's also about time SQ changed their Y class amenity ziplock bag. Surely they can do better than that.

Danang is a relatively unknown destination amongst Singaporeans and many Southeast Asians. Danang, in general, caters to mostly the backpacking crowd. You won't find them at the Furama.

Quoting SIN7 (Reply 6):
I really like designs and color on their seat fabric. It somehow made the cabin bright and cheery. The BCL seats are in blue though. I much prefer the EYCL

On the 777s, Y class seats come in two colors. The brown one found on the A321, and a blue color one (a shade lighter than the J class). Seat pitch on the 777 is a generous 34' or more!

Were you previously with SQ?
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ba319-131
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sun Jul 08, 2007 11:18 pm

Nice report and photo's, many thanks.

The VIP lounge looks a bit naff + the offerings are quite poor.

The inflight service can't be knocked, pretty decent for such a short flight.

Like the look of that resort, very nice indeed.

Rgds

Mark
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christao17
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:38 am

Interesting report. It is nice to see what VN's domestic service is like. I guess the spotting from the viewing platform would be pretty limited: look! another VN airplane!
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SQ772
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:33 pm

Yes it's literally VN, VN and more VN.

Interestingly, all international flights arrive/depart from HAN at around the same time of the day. On some days, you have AF, SQ, and Air Asia arriving within minutes of each other, and this causes massive congestion at the single baggage belt in the arrival area. I once waited more than 1 hr for my bags to come out. It's chaos for approx 3 hrs around noon, then all quietens down for the rest of the day. I wonder if it's plans in this way so that the immigration, customs officers can go for their siesta.  Wink
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PerthGloryFan
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:42 pm

Interesting report and pix of an internal flight.

Quoting SQ772 (Thread starter):
The spiral staircase leading to the second floor where the viewing gallery is…

Is the second floor of Noi Bai still essentially empty? It was in December 2004 - massive vast area with only 1 or 2 shops iirc. Enough space for expansion of services for a couple of decades.

PGF
 
SQ772
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:33 am

Quoting PerthGloryFan (Reply 11):
Is the second floor of Noi Bai still essentially empty? It was in December 2004 - massive vast area with only 1 or 2 shops iirc. Enough space for expansion of services for a couple of decades.

If you are referring to the area one gets to from the international airside area, yes it is now completely empty. I was told that there are plans to build airline lounges there. But if you are talking about the second floor one gets to from the check in area (spiral staircase), it is now a 'food court'.
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skyhigh777
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:19 am

The Furama resort still looks great, I was there in 2004...Vietnam is a beautiful country and VN airlines is great, even got to travel on their 777 from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi.
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EXAAUADL
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:09 am

Danang loosk beautiful. I think the airport must be an ex-USAF base. Long parrell runways...BTW Danang was the first place regular american soliders came ashore in Mar 1965. Prior to that it was mostly "advisors"
 
SQ772
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:00 am

Quoting SkyHigh777 (Reply 13):
The Furama resort still looks great, I was there in 2004...Vietnam is a beautiful country and VN airlines is great, even got to travel on their 777 from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi.

I flew on their 777 from Danang to Saigon as well. Very good seat pitch, and power points for laptops in every Y class seat as well! The only thing lacking is PTV. Here're some pictures of the 777 interior...

Power point filled with unmentionables...


Notice the seat config is 3x3x3 all the way to the last row, while other carriers' are 2x3x2 as the aircraft tapers.


Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 14):
Danang loosk beautiful. I think the airport must be an ex-USAF base. Long parrell runways...BTW Danang was the first place regular american soliders came ashore in Mar 1965. Prior to that it was mostly "advisors"

Danang Airport is still used for military purposes. Military helicopters are parked a distance away from the passenger terminals. Danang IS a beautiful city, and this city has lots of potential to become a major tourist destination in years to come.

[Edited 2007-07-10 18:06:29]
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AirWales
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:09 pm

Hi,

Thanks for the post - it is very interesting. I am flying the same route on my tour of Vietnam in November.

Is the A321 the only type of plane that flies this route? And is Vietnam Airlines the only airline?

Thanks.
 
Ryanair!!!
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:23 pm

Quoting AirWales (Reply 16):
Is the A321 the only type of plane that flies this route? And is Vietnam Airlines the only airline?

HAN-SGN vv is the busiest domestic route in VN's network. Quite a few of them are connecting international flights. Just check out their useless website and you will see a flight departing almost every hour.

Thus, you will have the honour of ALL the aircraft types flying this sector (A320, A321, A330 and 777-200).

No VN isn't the only airline, there is also Pacific Airlines - which I am flying on my next trip between HAN and SGN. Unless you are buying the tickets IN Vietnam, you are charged ridiculous sky high prices by VN's offices worldwide for a domestic flight.

Example: A one way fare between HAN and SGN is USD 120.00 when purchased in Vietnam. However, VN is charging me SGD 360.00 (USD 235.29) if I were to purchase the tickets here in Singapore. Local travel agents are charging SGD 200.00. The Pacific Airlines ticket is only USD 80.00. So no mystery who will I be flying with!...
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Door5Right
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:17 am

A bit hard to get your usual artistic photographs of the in-flight food with that box of goodies, Mr SQ772!
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SQ772
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:36 am

Quoting Door5Right (Reply 18):
A bit hard to get your usual artistic photographs of the in-flight food with that box of goodies, Mr SQ772!

Unfortunately so, but hey, better than nothing right??  Wink
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Door5Right
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RE: Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi To Danang (Pics!)

Tue Jul 17, 2007 5:17 pm

Do post a picture of yourself one day so we can see what you look like, Mr SQ772.
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