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Part 2 - Long way to Vietnam - Vietnam Airlines A350 to Saigon - Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:27 am


Video Report:

Vietnam Airlines VN523 - Shanghai - HCMC - A350-900 - Business Class


The day we land in Shanghai, we needed to get to Ho Chi Minh City by the evening, where we would meet with my wife's family who would be travelling separately from Shijiazhuang via Xiamen on Heibei Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.

We had a few options and the most economical one was with Xiamen Airlines, via Xiamen (meant that we would meet the family in Xiamen and then be on the same flight to HCMC). But this option would mean that we would need to transfer to Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) and then we would we also have to encounter another 1 stop flight to HCMC, all this after a 11 hour flight to Shanghai. This was costing us £170 per head.

The other more direct option was with Vietnam Airlines, via Pudong (PVG) and would be a more direct option. However, the price of this ticket was at £288 per head! However we were getting a one way business class ticket for £315, and that looked tempting.

After a bit more digging around, I was able to get a business class ticket for nearer to £300. this was with

After further deliberation we went ahead with this option.

So this would be my first trip on a Vietnam Airlines flight, that too on their brand new A350-900, in Business Class! So was excited and looking forward to this.

Rechecked on Monday morning and a quick call to the Vietnam Airlines office confirmed everything I wanted to know. I was able to pre-book my seats and also add my Delta SkyMiles to the booking. A very helpful agent over at Vietnam Airlines office managed to secure us 3A and 4A.

This series of trip reports will be split into 5 reports:

1. BA to Shanghai (WTP)
2. Vietnam Airlines from Shanghai to HCMC (in Business)
3. Domestic Vietnam in VietJet
4. China Southern from Hanoi to Shanghai via Guangzhou.
5. And finally our return back to London from Shanghai on BA (Club World)

Thanks to GCMaps, route map of the entire trip and this part of the report


Shanghai Airport - underground route linking T1 and T2

Vietnam Airlines - VN523
Route: PVG - SGN
Flight Reg:VN-A889; Delivered to Vietnam Airlines on Dec 2015
Aircraft Type: Airbus 350-900
Seat: 4A
Flight time: 15:25 - 19:00 (16:57 - 19:56 )
Actual flight time: 3Hr 59min
Distance: 1703 Miles
Load: Full in all classes
10 Feb 2018
My Log book: 1st Flight on Vietnam Airlines/ 1st flight on Airbus 350-900 / 150th Total overall flight


Day before the flight, I tried to check in on line before departing from London, but it looked like it was not possible. Web check in was only available from certain airports (Shanghai not included) and if you were eligible, you would get a unique link sent to email which can be used to check in online. Seems like a very privileged option :)

On the day, check in was painfully slow. They seemed to have 2 business class counters but was hardly moving.

When we finally reached the counter we realised that it was only for Hanoi. And Vietnam airlines had separate counters for Ho chi Minh. Oops.

There wasn't anyone at the Ho chi Minh check in counter and it was quick. Been told that the incoming flight was delayed by an hour so we were expecting a similar delay to our flight too.

Check in gates at Shanghai

Standing at the wrong gate :(

Now the right one :)

Immigration took a while but security was comparatively quick. On the whole from the time we entered the airport to duty free it took around an hour.

We headed to the plaza premium lounge near gate 77.

Airside at Shanghai

Heading to the lounge


Was pretty decent lounge. Good views of the apron and taxiway. Got a glimpse of our aircraft arriving.

They had a very good range of food but beverages was mediocre. Not too many alcohol choices.

No 77 Lounge - Plaza Premium at Shanghai




View from the lounge

F&B On offer

Live noodles counter


There is our ride, just arriving from SGN

As expected, the boarding had been delayed and we were called to board at around 4 pm.

We were parked at a remote stand and we were all bussed together.

Heading towards our boarding gate


Bus to the aircraft

Neighbours at Shanghai

At first sight, the A350 is majestic and elegant and her curves look even more pronounced in Vietnam colours. Advantage of remote stand is you get magnificent views of the aircraft you're about to fly on.

Boarding the aircraft:





Lovely livery

Our cabin was full and it looked like so was the rest of the aircraft.

First impressions were as I had expected. I had read lot of positive feedback of Vietnam business class especially on their A350. Their cabin looked calm and peaceful and I really liked their understated colours.

The business class seating/cabin was a definite step above the recently concluded trip on BA. Extremely likable layout - great mix of comfort, space and privacy. All seats have direct aisle access.

Entering the cabin

The seats were very comfortable for seating and as a flat bed.

Vietnam Airlines A350-900 Seating


generous personal space and a very sturdy table

More views of the seat


Service during welcome was warm and cordial and nothing over-the-top. Welcome drinks followed by a hot towel run.

We disembarked an hour late and expected to reach Ho chi Minh an hour later than scheduled arrival. So marks deducted on on-time performance.

During take-off as the engines spooled, this is when I realised how quiet this aircraft was. I thought the whale jet was quiet, but this is on a different league all together. I could hear myself whisper during take-off! Proof of this on my video report.

Bye Bye Shanghai

After take off

I have always been a Boeing fan boy. But with the A380 and now the A350 it's hard not to like new Airbus aircrafts. These 2 are simply magnificent and truly a great engineering marvel.

Once airborne drinks and food service commenced. The FA individually took orders from each passenger then the table was laid.

Food overall tasted great and the presentation was fantastic too. Topped it off with a super spicy bloody Mary.

Menu for this flight


Lovely presentation and tasted equally good


Started watching transformers 5. If they had made it less of a story and more just slam bang action it would've better. Half way through it lost my interest and the superb flatbed invited me to snooze.

Regarding the IFE very slick and responsive unit. Easy to use. Higher definition too. Not too many choices of movies which I think can be improved upon. But the noise cancellation headphones were superb. Once again completely in a different league to BA which had a constant whining noise throughout playback.

Wonderful high definition screens

Looked flimsy but worked well


Next thing I knew it was 30 minutes to landing and a hot towel service ensued.

Toilets were spotless throughout this flight

Once again landing was effortless and we landed predictably an hour late.

Remote stand once again. In spite of that we were out of the airport in 22 minutes! We got bussed separately, first in queue for immigration and our bags were the first to arrive as we approached the belt.

Thanks for a great flight

Bus to the terminal

HCMC -> Heading towards immigration

Baggage collection

Ours was the third, 4th and 6th bag out of the belt


Overall very impressive offering by Vietnam airlines. Their hard product on their A350 is comparable with the best. They lack a bit of finesse In service but nothing drastic. They could also improve upon their IFE offering (Choice of movies). It once again not a deal breaker.

Would definitely like to travel in Vietnam airlines again, hopefully in the near future.

So with this we have finally arrived in Vietnam. Stay tuned for our trip to the North of Vietnam and our way back.

Hope you liked the series so far, more coming soon.


Saigon Airport Arrivals

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Re: Part 2 - Long way to Vietnam - Vietnam Airlines A350 to Saigon - Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:29 am

Previous Trip Reports

Part 1 - Long way to Vietnam - BA to Shanghai - Club World
Weekend trip to Budapest on FlyBe (SEN) and BA (LHR)
Part 4 - KLM from Beijing to London via Amsterdam - B787-9 & ERJ190
Part 3 - Spring Airlines - Seoul Incheon to Shijiazhuang - Airbus 320-200
Part 2 - Korea Domestic on Korean Air and Jeju Air
Part 1 - London to Seoul on KLM? No. Air France? No. Korean Air?
Part 5 - Canadian Escapades - Vancouver to London - BA A380-800 - Club World
Part 4 - Canadian Escapades - Edmonton to Vancouver - WestJet B737-800
Part 3 - Canadian Escapades - Toronto to Calgary - Air Canada B767-300ER
Part 2 - Canadian Escapades - Quebec to Toronto - WestJet Encore Dash8 Q400
Part 1 - Canadian Escapades - London to Montreal - BA 787-8
Weekend in Bilbao - BA A320 - Photo + Video Report
Cambodian Escapades - China Southern B787, A321 and A320
Domestic Cambodian Escapades - Sky Angkor - KOS-REP - A320
Weekend in Zurich - Swiss and BA (Club Europe) - Airbus 320-200
Weekend at Cinque Terre - BA to Bologna - Airbus 320-200
Journey to the East (Part 5, Final) - BA B747-400 (Club World)
Journey to the East (Part 4) - China Eastern A321-200
Journey to the East (Part 3) - Etihad 5th Freedom Route
Journey to the East (Part 2) - BA, JAL, Etihad, China Eastern
Journey to the East - BA, JAL, Etihad, China Eastern
Norwegian And Air Baltic To ARN And RIX
London To Muscat On Gulf Air - A332 And A320
Part 4:India Domestic-9W, AI, SG On A321,B737,Q400
Part3: Phuket To India - Bangkok Airways -A320-200
Part 2:Thailand Domestic -Nok Air And Thai AirAsia
Part 1:Qatar Airways - Thailand And India
Part 3:BA Club Europe - LCA-LHR - Boeing 767-300
Part 2:Blue Air - Athens-Larnaca - Boeing 737-400
Part 1: Aegean Air - LGW-ATH-JTR - A320-200
Ryanair London(STN) To Lake Como (BGY)
Weekend In Belfast - Aer Lingus A319-100
BA First - PEK To LHR - Mid J B747-400
China Railway (CRH) - Video Report - SJW - Beijing
BA CW - Upper Deck To Beijing - High J B747-400
LAN Dreamliner (J) Experience - MAD FRA
Weekend In Trondheim - DY/SK - Boeing 737-800/600
Baltic Escapades - VNO/TLL/RIX On W6,BT And OV
South France - EasyJet A320 BA A319
UK To India - The EK Way - B777-200/300 & A380
India Domestic–Jet Airways And Indigo–A320/ATR 72
BA A320/321 - LHR To Berlin TXL - Christmas Day
China Southern - LHR-CAN-HKT - B787/A321
Cool Blue To BOS And Got Blue? To LAS - E190 A320
Mahalo Hawaii, Hello NYC - DL B767-300
Aloha! The United Way - B777-200 And B737-900
VS Little Red To ABZ And EZY Return
24 Hours On A 787! - Final Leg CZ - AKL-CAN-LHR
Part 5 - BHE-WLG-AKL On NZ Beech1900D And A320
Part 4 - MEL-AKL-ZQN On QA And NZ B738\A320
Part 3 - CNS-MEL On JetStar A321-200
Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190
Canton Route Part 1 - LON-SYD - CZ DreamLiner/A332
DREAM(liner)ING Of Hainan - China Southern
Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World
China - The Low Cost Way - Spring Airlines - SJW-CTU
China United Airlines (KN) - CTU - SJW - B737-700
Norwegian B737 - LGW-TOS-BGO-LGW
Jet Airways: LHR – COK
Barra Trip – that was not to be
Dusseldorf Calling - BA & EZY - Club/Eco - A321
Part 5: PVG-LHR - BA - Economy - B777
Part 4A&B - SHA-SJW-SHA - FM: Eco: B737
Part 3A&B : DXB-HKG-PVG: CX & KA :Eco: A333
Part 2: KWI-DXB - FlyDubai - Economy - B737
LHR - KWI - BA 747 - Part 1 - Middle East -China
Morocco Trip - LGW-RAK-TNG-LHR - EasyJet & Iberia
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Re: Part 2 - Long way to Vietnam - Vietnam Airlines A350 to Saigon - Business Class

Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:46 pm

Nice read and pictures, thanks for sharing.

I’ve flown 5 or 6 flights with VN and they were all good, no hesitation flying them again.

The A350 is a fantastic plane, had 6 flights on it so far, lovely aircraft from a passengers view point.
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Re: Part 2 - Long way to Vietnam - Vietnam Airlines A350 to Saigon - Business Class

Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:26 pm

Thanks for the comments ba319-131.
I'd agree, excellent aircraft from the point of view of customers comfort. The quietness of the aircraft is deafening :)
I do not have any future planned trips on an A350 unfortunately.
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Re: Part 2 - Long way to Vietnam - Vietnam Airlines A350 to Saigon - Business Class

Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:36 pm

Thanks for this great TR again,
Good you scored the A350 and become now an Airbus fan :lol:
I took this same flight 3 years ago, but alas in A321 with standard recliner seats... ok only for a daytime flight as this flight quite long.
Headphones were much bigger and better. Crew did not give you slippers? or not available?
Anyway your experience looks much more enjoyable in this widebody :smile:
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Golden Wings Aviation, Kenya Airways, RwandAir and Uganda Airlines...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki !
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Re: Part 2 - Long way to Vietnam - Vietnam Airlines A350 to Saigon - Business Class

Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:38 am

Thanks eastofspot.
It was indeed a very memorable and comfortable sector.
Not sure about the slippers. I think they were available upon request. I did not ask but in hindsight should've.
Definitely an A350 convert. What an incredible machine.

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