I was looking forward to my second flight in Vietnam Airlines business class. My first flight from Tokyo to Hanoi was generally a positive experience, and I was interested in round two from their home base. While the first flight was a short hop at 5 hours long, this was on a whole different level, with the journey from Hanoi to Frankfurt taking over 12 hours.
I noticed on this flight that it was crewed by a far more senior and friendlier crew. Although, I must confess that this was the first time I felt like a celebrity in my travel career as a journalist. I have to thank the crew for delivering an excellent personalized service.
Overall, this flight stacked up much better than my first one. The food was better, and I tried a combination of the Western Dish and the Vietnamese Dishes. Both were delicious, and I enjoyed them immensely. The bedding was comfortable and warm, and I had nothing to complain about.
However, the flight did have its downsides. The first of which is the absence of Wi-Fi once again. Secondly, the aircraft is poorly maintained, to say the least. Some parts of my seats were broken, the headphones were initially missing on one seat, and the TV was not working for my neighbor. The bathroom toilet was leaking mid-flight, which was horrific.
The service was exactly the same on this flight: efficient, friendly, and quick, lacking polish. Also, Vietnam Airlines kept its odd, impractical service routines that made life difficult for passengers and crew. Interestingly, I commented about this to the lead flight attendant, and I noted that she took it on board and made adjustments for the second meal service.
Booking Vietnam Airlines Business Class Ticket
Booking this flight was straightforward, and I used a combination of cash and Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal. Ultimately, the flight set me back 24,238 Chase Ultimate Rewards and $1,415.22. I covered the entire booking process and the adventure I had in my review of the first segment of my flight from Tokyo HND to Hanoi HAN.
The Ground Experience
I did not experience the full Hanoi airport ground experience here since I was only connecting off my first flight from Tokyo. However, the transit was easy enough. After disembarking, you follow the signs and the helpfully positioned agents, and they direct you to the next level.
Here, you skip entering Vietnam and, instead, make your way through another layer of security after an agent checks your boarding card and passport. You then take an escalator where you are processed through security for the final time. While it was quick, it was generally more cumbersome than other airports.
Finally, I headed to the Lotus lounge and my departure gate, no 29, which is located directly across from the lounge entrance.
The Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge and Boarding
I reviewed the Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge in detail. Suffice it to say it was more than adequate for my needs.
One thing to remember if you are transiting Hanoi airport is that there are two major lounges here: one serves Star Alliance and is the NIA Lounge, and the other is the Vietnam Airlines and Singapore Airlines Lounge Area. The number of airlines that use each lounge is astonishing, so check which lounge your carrier is partnered with.
As a bonus, I could also see my aircraft at the gate from the lounge. I was able to track and see where the plane was in the flight preparation process.
Would I revisit the lounge? Yes! Do I want to spend hours and hours in there? No!
Vietnam Airlines Business Class Boarding
Boarding was hectic for this flight. Even though I left for my flight early, upon arriving at the gate, I noticed many people in line waiting to board. It turned out they were all in Economy. Meanwhile, I was second in line for Sky Priority Business Class.
Boarding began at 10:20 a.m. with Zone 1 Business Class and Sky Priority Passengers. Luckily, I was the second to board, which allowed me to get some good shots of the cabin. Interestingly, Vietnam Airlines uses two separate Jetbridges. One for business class and one for economy travelers.
Yet again, the welcome was fabulous and all similes. I’ve never seen a crew that smiled so much on the entry to the aircraft; Vietnam Airlines definitely excels at this. Eventually, I built a good rapport with the lead flight attendant, who greeted everyone upfront.
As with my previous flight, the flight attendant showed me to my seat and helped me stow all my luggage. I must say I think this is something unique to Vietnam Airlines and a lovely touch.
Unlike my previous flight, the business class cabin was almost completely full this time, with only a few spare seats available. Looking around, I noticed Seat 4A was available. Although I initially selected seat 3A, I asked and was permitted to move to seat 4A before the doors closed.
Ironically, after I moved, the person in seat 4C moved to the seat I had just vacated since his IFE screen was broken, which I took to be another indication of poor aircraft maintenance.
The Vietnam Airlines Business Class Cabin and Seats
This B789 Vietnam Airlines business class cabin was as spacious and airy as the one I had flown earlier. However, this time around, I was positioned on the left side of the cabin. The aircraft had the same cool blue and yellow livery. At the same time, the interiors have many white, greenish-tan, and beige finishes. I think it’s one of the oddest color schemes I’ve seen in a business-class cabin, which also had the effect of making it look much older than it is in the day time.
This time at night I also noticed the aircraft’s sky blue interior lighting – giving the cabin a distinct blue-gold interior theme much like the livery of the airline!
Like my previous flight, the central part of the cabin area has higher luggage bins, giving the rear half of the cabin an extraordinarily open and airy feel. Whereas the forward area drops down, giving it a more cozy, confined vibe.
Again, three large TVs dominate the front cabin bulkhead, each showing the route map. As with my previous flight, the cabin’s interior looked dated and in dire need of overhaul and refit.
The Vietnam Airlines business class cabin seats came with a pillow, blanket, and Vietnam Airlines slippers. All three items stand out due to their vibrant yellow color.
One thing I must say about the seats on the left-hand side of the plane. They are more challenging to use if you’re right-handed. I will be far more aware of this with herringbone seats in the future since it makes working on a computer a chore.
Similar to my previous review, this flight had two bathrooms, a forward one and a side one. Again, one is slightly more spacious than the other – my preference was the side restroom over the forward restroom.
Both restrooms have a folding table, a small live plant, and a flower display on the interior, which Vietnam Airlines seems to put in most of its bathrooms. The side lavatory has the added bonus of sky blue mood uplighting, which makes it look much nicer.
On one hand, these bathrooms were better than the ones on my first flight since the crew was better at maintaining this one during the flight. I noticed amenities were fully replenished during the flight multiple times, and even the toilet paper was routinely replaced and made to look nice.
Even the toothbrushes and shaving kits were well-stocked during the flight.
But – this is a big but! One of the restrooms was leaking on the floor in the middle of the flight, which was horrific and disgusting!!
I guess that only shows how poorly maintained some of the Vietnam Airlines aircraft inventory is!
Vietnam Airlines Business Class Seat 3A & 4A
I had initially chosen 3A but noticed that 4A was not taken and switched to this before we left the gate. I elected to do this with permission as this seat’s window alignment is far better. Row 4 has the best window alignment, with two full windows and no breaks. I ended up in the same seat as my previous flight but on the left side.
Unfortunately, While this left side of the aisle gets the superior crew, it’s also less ideal if you’re right-handed. Since there is no room for a mouse, working is somewhat awkward. This is important to be aware of if you have a herringbone seat and plan to work.
I will be brief this time since I covered this seat extensively in my previous review. Features of the seat include…
A wide table that pulls out with a latch has two positions folded or fully open.
A reading light on the upper side of the seat, and a USB port, a headphone jack, the remote for IFE, and seat controls on the panel.
Headphones are mounted within a storage cubby.
Magazine slot, with storage behind and a power port above the storage, below the tray table, around the corner.
Large 18” TV in front of the seat, touch screen, and pull-out remote for seat controls.
Overhead, two lights, two air vents per seat, and a coat hook to the right side by the aisle.
A small ottoman footwell with shoe storage below.
While the seat has plenty of storage options, it does not have a mirror since I could not find one anywhere. There was a good amount of leg room in the seat.
Like my previous flight, the seat looks heavily worn and desperately needs an overhaul.
There is only a single set of seat controls. They can be found on the lower side of the panel, and are accessible while sleeping. This includes Upright, Relax, Lounge, and Bed functions.
While the seat has many functions and recline positions, the controls are pretty basic compared to other newer, better-maintained business-class seats out there.
On this flight, I tried to catch some sleep for a couple of hours. Once in sleep mode, I immediately noticed that the seat was stiffer than on my first flight. However, I do not think this was a design issue; it was just general wear and tear.
Fortunately, the included mattress pad made the seat much more fun to sleep in. Also, the pillow was a good size and comfortable. I found the provided blanket to be just right. It was neither too thin nor too thick.
Often, the footwell can feel cramped on lie-flat seats; however, this was not the case here. The end of the footwell has a decent amount of room in all directions, and it did not feel constricted in any direction.
Ultimately, I slept pretty well despite the aircraft and seat’s age!
The Vietnam Airlines Business Class Amenity Kit
The amenity kit was identical to the one from my previous flights, and I found it to have quite a few useful items. Parfums Charriol makes the kit, which is made of pretty cheap feeling plastic. I actually just tossed this one in my bag since I still had the kit from the previous flight and didn’t need this one.
Amenity Kit Contents
- Moisturizing Lotion
- Lip balm
- The folding dual comb and brush is by far the most useful item in my book.
- Eye Mask
- Comfort socks
- Two stickers: one side was a “Wake Me Up for Service” sticker, and on the other side was a “Wake Me Up for Duty-Free.” Who uses these? I would love to know.
Vietnam Airlines Business Class Inflight Entertainment & Wifi
Like my previous flight on Vietnam Airlines B789 in Business class, the IFE selection was impressive and on par with anything Delta offers. However, the system is very dated, with a triple headphone socket, so you cannot use your headphones.
On this flight, I opted to settle in for a movie and tried to watch the film “65” with Adam Driver.
Like before, every time an announcement was made, the movie was interrupted, and the system reset, making watching a movie massively irritating. Furthermore, On landing, the system completely shuts off for no reason. It seems the software didn’t allow anything to play while we were landing.
While the flight map was comprehensive and cool, the main system left much to be desired.
Some buttons and sections of the IFE don’t work, and worse still, the system is littered with a wide range of spelling and grammatical mistakes. It is in dire need of a language cleanup.
Vietnam Airlines Business Class Headphones
As with my previous Vietnam Airlines business class flight, the headphones come with ear covers.
However, that was of no use at my first seat, 3A, since the headphones were missing. Once I had my pair of Vietnam Airlines branded noise-canceling headphones, they were as good as on the previous flight. Virtually eliminating the noise of the plane and producing excellent audio quality.
The headphones came with a paper pouch with fresh paper ear covers—which you then installed and the ear pieces.
Unsurprisingly, like my previous flight, there is no Wi-Fi on this one either. If I were brutally honest, I would have booked another carrier if I had known this would be the case. This is such a deal breaker for me! This is doubly so on flights where I am planning on working.
This flight was a first for me, heading around the globe westward for a massive 12 hours plus. While the crew did not feel as polished as on my last leg, however, the lead flight attendant was highly experienced, always smiling, and had an ambitious vibe to deliver quality service.
The lead attendant tuned in to the fact that I was a frequent traveler and flier, so she often stopped by to deliver excellent service. She also came by several times to check on me and ask how Vietnam Airlines could improve their service, which I thought was extraordinarily gracious and forward-looking of her. I gave four different tips, and it seems that they were all well received. For the sake of transparency, these were my four tips.
- Don’t rush the stages in service. FAs should check on passengers individually to see where they’ve wound up in the service process and then serve the next course. The service takes longer but feels more balanced, classy, and attentive to the individual passenger.
- Use carts for snacks and desserts, rather than hand delivering these items and risking a trip and spilling them onto a passenger.
- Implement working Wi-Fi.
- Greet passengers by personal last names as much as possible; I have a wide range of airlines like Delta, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines do this.
Before long, we pushed back from the gate and were in the air very quickly, surprisingly so, in fact. From pushback to take off, it was 5 minutes, tops.
Vietnam Airlines Business Class Meal Service
The Vietnam Airlines business class cabin was a hub of activity for the meal service. I counted four attendants working the cabin, which is way more than you would typically see with other carriers.
During boarding, the cabin was dimmed a nice blue color, which gave it an ethereal atmosphere.
The pre-departure drinks service started with a nice warm towel less than ten minutes after boarding.
After the towel came the drinks with a choice of Champagne, Watermelon Juice, and Water. However, one bad aspect of this was that the FA just brought the tray but didn’t explain what anything was or give any introduction.
I opted for the watermelon juice, which I received in a glass, although oddly, unlike my previous flight, there was no coaster this time around. Then, like on my first flight, the FA came around with newspapers for the flight.
It took us a while to leave the gate, even after everyone had boarded. And people were just sat twiddling their thumbs, waiting to go!
Post Departure Service
After take-off, one of the flight attendants came by and distributed the menus for the flight. This was a custom menu for the route, and it was written in German, English, and Vietnamese.
Then, the cabin lighting was turned on.
Following that, the tables were set for the meal service. These came along with a second round of warm towels.
Finally, the flight attendant came around to take my dinner order. Once again, I opted for a Hello Vietnam! The welcome drink was both sour and sweet and had a beautiful orange color. However, given my experience on the previous flight, I asked for it to be extra fruity this time.
The flight attendant got my drift, and lo and behold this time, it was way better! The delicious beverage tasted much more like a fruity drink and less like some cough syrup!
I struggled to choose my meal this time around. I had initially wanted to get the Vietnamese-style meal, but it was missing Pho and had fried items. On the other hand, the Western meal looked healthier and more appealing, and it was a very tough call. Ultimately, I went with the Western menu option.
An interesting thing I noted about this flight is that no nuts were served. While no announcements were made, it is possible because someone highly allergic was onboard.
Although this was a 12-hour plus flight, the service started 20 minutes after take-off and was as chaotic and rushed as my first flight from Japan.
In what I can only describe as a repeat performance from my first flight, we started with bread and appetizers. However, this time around, I had not even touched the appetizer at all, and the flight attendant suddenly brought the heated main course. It had probably been only five or ten minutes tops.
The flight attendant looked very confused as he glanced at my uneaten appetizers and the pipping hot meal on the tray in his hand. Finally, he asked if he should take the main course away for later or remove the appetizer. I asked him to bring back the main course in a while.
I found this funny and memorable; it reminded me of being a kid and my parents looking at me, puzzled as to why I had not finished my food yet!
While it may sound like I am showing off, and I promise you I am not, I could always use the practice; I ate my food with chopsticks. A fork and knife were also wrapped up and ready to use. I even ate the beef main course with chopsticks; it was that tender and good!
Western Style Mean Menu
Bread Selection: Nice, variable selection
- Garlic Bread: this was tasty and delicious.
- The dark roll: This was stale and not fresh, perhaps the only item in this supper service that wasn’t up to par.
Appetizer Course: Western Style
- Smoked Salmon with Black Caviar – this was great! Fresh, multilayered taste w/ three layers. Spicy aftertaste and kick. I would eat this three or four times if there were more.
- Mixed Mushrooms with Balsamic: This was amazing; I wasn’t expecting that.
- Two small tomatoes and some light greens.
- Served with lemon.
Main Course: Western Style
- Beef Tenderloin with Pepper Sauce – Not overcooked and also tasted great with the sauce. Reminds me of a burger with curry sauce. Bold flavor and was delicious.
- Potatoes – fresh and tasty.
- Zucchini and Carrots – I wish there were a few more, to be honest – quantity was definitely on the lighter side.
Dessert: Western Style
- Mango Pudding, again, was excellent and tasty.
One thing I must note about the meal is that I was seriously impressed by the quality of the food on this flight. I was nitpicking. My only minor gripe is that there should be more food available! I can’t wait to try the Vietnamese-style menu on a future flight.
Dessert and Snacks
Since the main meal came with its own dessert, this flight had no separate dessert service. However, the lead flight attendant walked around with a fruit tray, and I got a selection. Unfortunately, my choices were minimal by the time the tray got around to me.
As with the previous flight, this part of the service was impractical. One thing I did notice, though, was that some wine, juices, and sodas were stocked for business class passengers to take freely at the front of the cabin.
Mid Flight Snack
Mid flight, the attendants came around with a pre-prepared snack. These were a selection of small sandwiches on a tray brought directly to the seat, accompanied by a wet towel. Two different types of sandwiches were on offer.
These were small open-faced sandwiches, which were small bite-sized cutouts of bread, meats, and some veggie garnishing. The two choices on offer were:
- Saucy chicken on white bread
- Salmon on bell pepper on brown bread, garnished with thyme. I thought this was tastier. However, I am a big salmon fan!
Two hours before arrival, the crew began the breakfast service, and this time around, it was slow and steady, and I did feel like a target at a food firing range. To prepare for breakfast, the cabin lights were turned on fully, but windows were left dimmed.
As with virtually every meal on Vietnam Airlines, breakfast started with a warm towel served at my seat.
Again, we had two style choices, although this time around, I went for the Vietnamese option. The bread was served in a side tray; I chose Coffee Bread and Croissants.
Following that came a beautiful presentation with Fresh fruit laid out perfectly.
Then came a beautifully presented Yogurt with olive oil in a floral pattern.
Finally, there was also some butter lemon. The main breakfast item was Bun Bo Hue, a Vietnamese Noodle Soup with beef, pork, and seafood cake.
I asked the flight attendant to make mine spicy if possible, and they added some tasty peppers. I found this a very authentic dish that tasted great and was warm, well-balanced, and layered.
Arrival at Frankfurt FRA
Although the sun rose about one hour before our arrival, the cabin dimming did not stop until we began our descent. This actually created some interesting visual effects inside the cabin. We first got an intense deep blue glow on the right side of the plane until suddenly; all windows were fully undimmed for the breakfast service. The result was a very sudden and very bright daylight effect in the cabin; it felt like we were going to land on the sun!
During landing, the IFE died and was unusable, so you just had to sit there and wait for a touchdown. However, once we were on the ground. We quickly got to the gate and pulled in next to a Eurowings Discover A330.
While I would generally be off the plane like a racehorse through the gates, I spent some time talking to the crew about Oscape. The lead flight attendant was very interested in the site and what we do. I traded information with the lead flight attendant and then paused for celebrity pictures in the cabin. Although we tried many times, it seems few people understand how to operate a camera. So, I’ll settle for these two shots.
Deplaning and the Terminal
Deplaning felt strange, and we arrived in a desolate section of the C concourse in Terminal 1.
However, on the bright side, the exit from the plane and journey up the escalator gave great views back to the plane we were just on. Vietnam Airlines has a really cool color scheme! It’s a shame the aircraft isn’t better maintained.
Heading to catch my next flight to New York, it was a long, lonely walk through a deserted Frankfurt airport.
Eventually, I was able to locate the necessary information about my next flight on one of the information boards.
Soon, I was more in the heart of the airport and on the people mover system, where I started my journey towards the B concourse. It was eerily quiet here as well, and on my journey it was just me and two pilots on the whole train.
I had some time to kill before my Singapore Airlines flight to New, so I headed to the Air Canada lounge beforehand.
On the one hand, this flight was a fantastic experience. For the first time in my Oscape travel-journalist endeavor, I felt like a Rock Star Celebrity flying Vietnam Airlines to Germany. I can really thank the crew for that and the personalized attention from the lead flight attendant. The crew was some of the friendliest I’ve encountered, both on the ground and in the skies.
Honestly, I’m grateful for the crew on this flight, which made me feel warm, welcomed, and valued despite the airline issues. If you’re reading this – thank you, it was so great to meet you!
Unfortunately, some significant drawbacks exist despite the excellent food and comfortable seating. The aircraft was poorly maintained, to say the least. Some parts of my seats were broken, the headphones were initially missing on one seat, and the TV was not working for my neighbor. The bathroom toilet was leaking mid-flight, which was disgusting.
My biggest issue with flying Vietnam Airlines right now is their lack of WiFi connection. This is a huge problem and basically forgoes using the carrier for business trips. I would much rather fly ANA, Japan Airlines, or even a carrier with a connection like Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines so that I can have Wi-Fi and work. On the first flight, I was without Wi-Fi for 5 hours; on this flight, it was for over 12 hours, which would make things difficult.
- Lovely service, which was all smiles!
- Quick, efficient boarding and helpful crew.
- IFE works pretty well and has a vast selection.
- The seat is comfortable, one which you’ll find on many other airlines.
- I slept well – the bedding was sufficient and comfortable. The seat was old, though.
- The food was terrific, both servings – I tried the Western and the Vietnamese courses and enjoyed both.
- Prompt and frequent service.
- The flight was perfectly on time.
- The plane clearly showed age and needs better maintenance. The bathroom toilet was leaking mid-flight, which was disgusting.
- Lack of Wi-Fi is the biggest problem for Vietnam Airlines.
- Impractical service at times – the airline needs to implement carts for some service protocols.
- The service on Vietnam Airlines was friendly but not polished and very rushed. This was adjusted later in my flight.
- Someone needs to check everything posted – spelling mistakes make the carrier feel strange and outdated. This was noticed on the menu as well as in the IFE system.