Vietnam Airlines, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Ho Chi Minh to Sydney (non-stop)
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Lotusmiles Program, with SkyTeam alliance compatibility
Eight hours, 35 minutes.
There are 28 lie-flat beds in a 1-2-1 layout; each seat with direct aisle access. Seat pitch is 42 inches (106 centimetres) and width is 21 inches (51 centimetres), so there's plenty of leg room to stretch out. I'm seated in row 4 in a window seat. I have two windows to myself, which makes for excellent views during takeoff. It's my first time in business class, so everything is a novelty and also rather confusing. I couldn't figure out what all the compartments were for, was it a bin or a storage space? It took me a while to work out how to adjust my chair into recline position, and then a lie-flat bed. And I admit, I needed assistance to open my entertainment screen.
Business passengers are permitted one piece of checked luggage up to 30 kilograms and two carry-on luggages up to 7 kilograms.
There's plenty of space for my average-length legs that just reach the foot rest when in the upright position. The comfort pack is by Charriol - Swiss - and the lip balm, ear plugs and eye mask come in handy. Refreshment drinks are served before the plane takes off - champagne or juice, it's your choice. An adult family of three are the last to board. They are late, loud and a bit rowdy; hopefully they settled down, it's a night flight after all.
Each seat features a 15.4 inch (39 centimetre) private entertainment screen - touch screen and remote control - with noise-cancelling headphones.The movie selection is decent, though the new releases option is not extensive, there are plenty of 'classics' and Asian films to choose from. I watched three movies on my Sydney to Hanoi (it was a day flight ) so on this one I'm ready to just go to sleep.
The Vietnamese are known for their hospitality, and being airborne is no exception. The staff are friendly, soft-spoken, smiley and polite. The female crew are wearing ao dai in turquoise for general crew, and yellow for head cabin crew. Male crew members are dressed in white shirts, black pants with a skyblue tie. The staff are attentive and service is punctual. Language skills between staff members vary so it's helpful to speaking clearly when asking for something. The staff will often repeat your requests.
It's less than an hour into the flight when Thao, the cabin assistant, takes dinner orders, kneeling next to each passenger explaining in greater detail the food options and taking our orders. It's a three-course dinner and the menu is Vietnamese. For appetisers, I have the fish roll in lalot leaves; for mains, the grilled pork loin with crab cake and steamed rice, and the Vietnamese style sweet soup for dessert, which is a coconut pudding with mango. Thao asks if I would like to be woken for breakfast. I hadn't thought that far into the flight - in economy, you don't really get asked about breakfast during dinner service. All courses arrive promptly, it's fresh and delicious, though it doesn't have the traditional Vietnamese fragrances as you'll get on the streets. I'm glad I chose to have breakfast - beef pho to be exact - other than being gently woken to the words "Ms Dang", as the journey from disembarkation to exiting customs at Sydney Airport is always longer than one imagines.
ONE MORE THING
Vietnam Airlines launched its non-stop Sydney to Hanoi route in late March 2017 operating the Dreamliner on the route.
Vietnam Airlines Dreamliner business class to and from Vietnam doesn't rival some of the world's best airlines, there's no onboard lounge or air bar, but the service, food and lie-flat beds are definitely a step above flying economy class. I wish I never had to go back.
The writer flew as a guest of Vietnam Airlines and Wendy Wu Tours.