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]
There's always a better way to fly...