ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:07 pm

During the recent long weekend holidays, I made a short 3 days trip to Ho Chi Minh city via Vietnam Airlines. Considering the holidays, airfare was actually pretty reasonably priced when tickets were booked a few months back.

VN departs from Changi's newest terminal, Terminal 4. Even though T4 has automated check-in facilities, VN still uses the manual check-in counters. Queues were not too long and having done online check-in earlier, we were able to use the online check-in desks and had boarding passes issued.

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Visited the Blossom Lounge, which was used by all T4 airlines except CX. As it was lunch hour, the lounge was quite busy at the dining area, but there were still sufficient seating around.

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View of departure hall from lounge.

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There was a decent buffet selection, including both hot and cold selections.

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Alcohol selection

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Hot food and made-to-order dishes.

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My light lunch. Both laksa and desserts were good.

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Time to head to the gate.

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26 October 2019
Vietnam Airlines
VN 650
Singapore (SIN) - Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)
A321
VN-A363
Economy Class
Flight Time: 1H45M



Departure gate at G17.

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Vietnam Airlines' regional workhorse, the A321, would be operating this flight.

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Boarding commenced. There was a newspaper trolley at the door.

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Boarding the A321.

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Welcomed by the crew at the door and proceeded to my seat. Economy on VN's A321 is just a basic seat with no IFE or any other fanciful in-seat gadgets. However, legroom is pretty decent. Blankets were available upon request.

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Literature in the seat pocket.

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View out the window.

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Boarding in progress. It was a totally full flight, which was expected for the long weekend.

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Refreshing tissues were handed out after boarding was completed.

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Pushed back, with the safety video shown on the dropdown monitors.

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Taxied to the runway.

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Turning onto the runway.

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Departing from Rwy02C.

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Video of the takeoff and climb.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xilodMZOMww


Seatbelt signs remained on for some time as we navigated around storm clouds.

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Young VN flyer seated in front of me.

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VN ads were shown on the overhead monitors.

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Which was later switched to the flight map. Meal service commenced immediately, with 4 crew serving in economy. 3 of the crew were dishing out meal trays from 2 meal carts while the 4th was serving drinks from the beverage cart.

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Meal tray was delivered. The choices were Minced beef with fried rice and vegetables, or Chicken with noodles. The meal came with a side salad and dressing, warm roll with butter, and a banana.

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I chose the beef option. The beef in sauce was slightly salty, but the fried rice was fragrant. Salad was simple and the 'dessert' was a big and filling banana.

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The other option of Chicken with noodles was quite salty as well.

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Beverage cart followed behind with a range of wines, juices and soft drinks offered. An orange juice for me please.

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Followed by the crew coming down the aisle offering a round of coffee or tea. Service was generally friendly and efficient. Considering it was a fully packed flight and with a short flight time, no complaints with the onboard service.

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Meal trays were cleared and we had already started our descent into Ho Chi Minh.

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Nice scenery during approach into Ho Chi Minh City.

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Landing on Rwy25R.

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Video of landing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwsONgQLa8U


Taxiing to the remote stand. I observed that VN pilots usually do not retract the aircraft flaps fully when in Vietnam airports. Anybody has any idea why?

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Parked at remote.

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Waiting to disembark. Both front and rear doors were used for disembarkation.

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My seat for the flight.

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Walking through economy and business cabins.

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And onto the tarmac onto awaiting buses for the ride to the international terminal.

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It was a pleasant experience on Vietnam Airlines economy class on this short hop. Even though the seats were basic, legroom was generous and service was good. Meals were average. Considering the pretty attractive fare, it was value-for-money to fly VN on this short-haul sector.
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:09 pm

Immigration was not too busy and we were through rather quickly, followed by a Grab ride to the city. Stayed at Chill Suites City Center, a new 3-stars hotel, at very reasonable prices. Room was big and new, but toilet was basic. Seemed like a retrofitted hotel from old.

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Dinner was had at Dao Restaurant.

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Dao Restaurant's famous dish is the Lobster Pho!

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For a light supper, stumbled upon a roadside Banh Mi stall, Banh Mi 37, which is a rather famous stall with its signature patties being grilled on the spot.

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Crazy Saigon traffic

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A bright and colourful banh mi roadside stall near the hotel.

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The hotel offers a complimentary simple and basic breakfast daily.

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Visit to Ngoc Hoang Pagoda temple, a popular temple made famous by Mr Obama.

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Broken rice lunch at Com Tam Thuan Kieu.

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The iconic Café Apartments

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Up the Saigon Skydeck for a sweeping view of the city.

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Dinner at Haidilao, a very popular steamboat restaurant made popular in China and Singapore. A couple of branches just opened in Saigon and expected, it was pretty crowded. Prices were much more affordable compared to Singapore.

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Ending with a fantastic chocolate dessert and hot chocolate at the award-winning chocolatier Maison Marou.

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Banh mi to start the day.

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Trying the popular iced coconut coffee at Cong Café. Though I preferred the iced coconut with green rice.

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Lunch at a popular vegetarian restaurant, Bong Sung. The dishes were fantastic!

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My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
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BWIAirport
Posts: 880
Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2016 10:29 pm

Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:22 pm

ycp81 wrote:
Taxiing to the remote stand. I observed that VN pilots usually do not retract the aircraft flaps fully when in Vietnam airports. Anybody has any idea why?

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this has to do with heat-related restrictions on Airbus aircraft. In hot weather, to prevent something from going wrong, Airbuses are parked with flaps 1 or 2 set.
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LTU932
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Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:55 pm

BWIAirport wrote:
ycp81 wrote:
Taxiing to the remote stand. I observed that VN pilots usually do not retract the aircraft flaps fully when in Vietnam airports. Anybody has any idea why?

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this has to do with heat-related restrictions on Airbus aircraft. In hot weather, to prevent something from going wrong, Airbuses are parked with flaps 1 or 2 set.
Never seen that here in SJO, even though it can be really hot at times.
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DaProf
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:13 pm

Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:19 pm

Looking at the departure hall and wondering what the heck is "Texas Chicken" .. must be some small cow.
 
cofannyc
Posts: 276
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 10:22 am

Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:59 pm

DaProf wrote:
Looking at the departure hall and wondering what the heck is "Texas Chicken" .. must be some small cow.


Just a different trading name for American fried chicken brand Church's Chicken.
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Sun Nov 24, 2019 1:53 pm

Back to the airport via Grab and checked in at the VN counters.

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Through immigration and security rather quickly and into the departure hall with overpriced duty-free shops.

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With my priority pass, I visited the Orchid lounge. It was rather busy at this hour.

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Buffet selection was pretty decent.

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My pick from the buffet.

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One aspect I liked of the lounge is the vast windows for plane-spotting. EVA B773ER preparing for departure.

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Vietjetair A321 and new Vietnamese airline Bamboo Airways A320.

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SQ B772ER 9V-SVN taxiing in as SQ184 and returning a SQ183. This aircraft was just recently retired. This would be one of her last few flights in her SQ career.

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Heading to the gate and spotting my VN A350 in Skyteam livery.

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28 October 2019
Vietnam Airlines
VN 657
Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) - Singapore (SIN)
A350-900
VN-A897
Economy Class
Flight Time: 1H50M



Our SkyTeam liveried A359.

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Boarding had just commenced.

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Newspapers were available at the door. Passing through the Premium Economy cabin, which is in a 2-4-2 layout. The seat frame is exactly the same as on SQ's A350.

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Into the economy cabin. I believe the seats were also of the same model as used by SQ on the B773ERs and most long-haul A350s, but with less bells and whistles.

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Boarding in progress

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Was seated in an aisle seat on this leg. Legroom was pretty decent for the mid-long haul flights this aircraft usually serve. IFE monitor was touch-screen and large, with USB port beneath the monitor. There were no footrests.

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After boarding was completed, crew came round to hand out refreshment towels. Blankets were handed out upon request. No IFE headphones were available as, according to the crew, it would only be handed on flights longer than 3hrs. So use your own earphones on these short sectors.

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Safety video played.

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Boarding was completed on schedule but there was a bit of delay for departure due to traffic. Finally took off about 20min behind schedule and the IFE was turned on just as the engines spooled up on the runway. IFE selection was good enough for this short flight.

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3D flight map. However it was on a loop and cannot be personalised.

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My entertainment for the flight.

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Everyone were 'forced' to watch the VN ads just after takeoff.

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Seat recline was quite good.

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Pikachu time.

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Meal service started immediately after departure. The flight was totally full in Premium economy and Economy, and with 276 passengers in these 2 classes, it was hard work for the 5 crew in PEY/EY to conduct the meal service on this short sector. Carts started from PEY and moved towards the rear, with a crew dishing out meal trays and another following behind with the drinks cart.

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Seated near the rear of the aircraft, we only received our meals almost an hour into the flight, just 5min before descent was announced by the pilot. The meal tray came with a salad, main, warm roll with butter and a banana.

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The meal choices were Fish with Noodles or Pork with rice. The Fish noodles was rather salty again. Lesson learnt, noodles on VN are normally salty.

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The other choice of Braised pork with rice was very tasty!

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Just noted the VN logo on the plastic cup.

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A round of coffee/tea was also offered but I declined. 2 additional crew also came up from Business to help with clearing of the trays. Definitely a hectic flight for this set of VN crew.

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Crew busy in the Economy galley in the rear, clearing up the trash. This was the only galley serving the entire PEY and EY cabins!

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Quick visit to the lavatory. Other than the necessary, the only amenity available was the VN-branded handwash.

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Clearing up the last trays while we were descending.

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Some facts on the A350.

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Our flight time was extended as we were required to hold.

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Again we were forced to sit through VN ads again before landing.

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Approaching Singapore.

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Landed on Rwy02C and it was only a short taxi to Terminal 4 where we disembarked. It appeared that there were many passengers who had originated from Japan/Korea and transited at SGN, judging from the many duty-free shopping bags they were carrying.

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A glimpse of our aircraft after disembarkation.

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Followed by a long trek to the Arrival hall where immigration and baggage claim was very efficient.

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Even though it was a busy and full flight, it was still a comfortable journey on Vietnam Airlines on this short-haul flight. VN's service may not be as polished as the 5-stars carriers, but the onboard offerings on the newer aircraft are still comparable with the major airlines out there. When the price is right, I would still recommend flying on Vietnam Airlines.
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
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KLMatSJC
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:16 am

Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:32 am

BWIAirport wrote:
ycp81 wrote:
Taxiing to the remote stand. I observed that VN pilots usually do not retract the aircraft flaps fully when in Vietnam airports. Anybody has any idea why?

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this has to do with heat-related restrictions on Airbus aircraft. In hot weather, to prevent something from going wrong, Airbuses are parked with flaps 1 or 2 set.


Yes I believe it is a recommendation of have them at 1 when it is over 30 C on the ground. Many in the US at least don't observe that until 40 C.
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symphonicpoet
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:57 am

Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:21 am

Glad you had a good time. I fly to Tan Sohn Nhat somewhat frequently for someone who lives nine thousand miles away, but I've not flown Vietnam Airlines before. (Most frequently it's worked out to be China Eastern, but also Korean, JAL, or even United.) Will be taking my first trip aboard the national carrier in February between Ho Chi Minh and Tokyo. Looking forward to it. Looks like a good operation with clean, comfortable aircraft. And I'm all in on a good savory noddle dish. In my experience good VN food just runs that way in general; savory, spicy, and delicious. Hard to have too much fish sauce. ;-) Anyway, lovely review and it'll be nice to be back there this Tet.
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dcajet
Posts: 4226
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 9:31 am

Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Sat Nov 30, 2019 5:27 pm

Regarding the A320 family flaps/slats question: on the ground, hot weather conditions may cause overheating to be detected around the bleed ducts in the wings, resulting in "AIR L (R) WING LEAK" warnings. These are usually avoided by keeping the slats in config 1 when the OAT is above 30 C.
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DY789
Posts: 61
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:05 am

Re: Saigon Long Weekend on VN A321 and A350 Economy

Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:42 am

Great report - thank you for sharing. Haven't been to Vietnam since 2007 and this report has made me want to return!!

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