Vietnam Airlines is the national air carrier of Vietnam. It has Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as its hubs, and it serves domestic destinations within Vietnam and several international destinations.
During our Southeast Asia trip, we took Vietnam Airlines flights in to and out from Hanoi. Initially we looked for bargain priced flights through low cost carriers like AirAsia and JetStar, but we found that while we could find flights at reasonable price, the route and timing were not ideal for our trip. We were looking for direct flights from Siem Reap to Hanoi and from Hanoi to Singapore that also minimized travel times so we could spend more time at the destination cities. In the end, the best timing and cost balance were with Vietnam Airlines flights.
I booked the tickets directly on Vietnam Airlines website. The bookings were quite straightforward, though there was a catch that you may want to watch for especially if you’re booking using your credit card. The transaction would be billed from Vietnam, so it would be considered as if you’re using your credit card there. For some credit cards, that would mean you need to pay foreign transaction fee that typically amounts to about 3% of the transaction amount. In my case, I did end up paying the fee as I didn’t know this and I used my credit card that did not have foreign transaction fee waiver.
Our first flight with Vietnam Airlines from Siem Reap to Hanoi was in business class. The cost was almost double the amount for economy seat, but it was still pretty reasonable (less than USD 500 per person) and it was the most convenient timing for our schedule (at least on paper). It turned out however that the flight was delayed for almost three hours, and we ended up arriving late in Hanoi that pretty much changed our original plan to go out for dinner in Hanoi. Since we had business class seats, we could wait in the business lounge at the Siem Reap International Airport, so it was more comfortable and nicer than the regular waiting area. The flight itself was pretty nice and uneventful, and the food served was good; pretty much a Vietnamese-western fusion dish.
The second flight with Vietnam Airlines was from Hanoi to Singapore. This time we tried to fly on the earliest flight out from Hanoi to Singapore so we could spend more time in Singapore. However, similar to the the first flight, our flight was again delayed, though thankfully this one was only two hours. We used the time at the Hanoi Noi Bai Airport to look for souvenirs, so all was not lost. But it did mean we had shorter time to spend in Singapore than what we planned. The flight again was nice and uneventful. The economy cabin was still pretty good; I’d say it’s comparable to any airlines you fly here in the United States.
Overall, I think I would consider flying Vietnam Airlines again especially for the domestic flights in Vietnam and when they have good route, time, and price. However, given my previous experience with them, I would at least consider a Plan B on my trip in case the flight gets delayed again.
The photo below was taken at the Hanoi Noi Bai Airport from the terminal that seemed to be exclusively for Vietnam Airlines. You can see the Vietnam Airlines planes at the gates waiting for the passengers to get on board.