- Vietnam Airlines 229
- Hanoi (HAN) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)
- Departure: 1047 Arrival: 1227
- Duration: 1:40
- Aircraft: Airbus A350-941
- Registration: VN-A891
- Seat: 8A (Business Class)
Out of the three-leg flight, this is the second leg of the flight with Vietnam Airlines. I arrived at Hanoi Airport from London with Vietnam Airlines’ B787 Dreamliner(Here) and I had to transfer to the domestic terminal where my Airbus A350 was waiting.
Prior to departure, I constantly checked the seating plan of VN’s A350 from seat mapping websites such as seatguru.com and expertflyer.com. But all the seat plans showed only “Sogerma Solstys” staggered seats while on my seat assignment page from my booking, it showed as reverse herringbone seats. When I browsed the web regarding this issue, I found out most of the reviews on VN’s A350 fleet were in staggered seats. A few days later, I learned from Vietnam Airlines that this flight was delivered only a month ago and the cabin was equipped with reverse herringbone seats. Just by looking at the picture below, you will be able to notice the business class cabin is exactly the same as the Dreamliner I have used on the first leg.
Vietnam Airlines Airbus A350 has a total of 305 seats: 29 Business class, 45 Premium Economy, and 231 Standard Economy class. The seating configuration is also identical to the B787: 1-2-1 in Business and 3-3-3 in both Premium Economy Standard Economy classes.
On this flight to Ho Chi Minh City, there were many limitations with the service although the flight took around 2 hours. Lunch was immediately served after takeoff, no pillows and blankets, moreover the IFE was not working at all throughout the flight.
This newly manufactured aircraft had a fresh shiny painting, a clean interior, and a fresh atmosphere inside. Even though it was a morning flight, the flight was nearly empty so the cabin was extremely quiet and comfortable. The cabin absolutely looked the same as the B787 except for the overhead baggage compartments and the last row (Row 8), having only two window seats. The overhead compartments are installed above the window seats which made the ceiling in the middle taller, and the cabin wider looking. And of course, the impressive digital fasten seatbelt and no smoking sign.
Galleys are located one on the front and the other at the back of the business class. Based on the color of the curtain between the galley, the aft galley is used to serve the premium economy cabin while the one on the front for the business class cabin.
As I have mentioned above, this brand new A350 is equipped with reverse herringbone seats. From footrests to windows, there are clearly some differences in seat design compared to B787s but most of it looked the same.
There is one more row (Row 8A and 8K) on A350s that is considered private than the seats in front because there is a coat room right beside the seat(Shown above and below), eliminating the middle seats. Seat 8A, which was my seat, can be assigned to everyone but seat 8K is assigned as a crew rest seat so it is always blocked.
On each seat, a couple of storage spaces are available: One by the armrest and the other by the tray table. The seat adjustment controller is together with the IFE remote controller and the headphone/USB ports.
One thing that bothered me was the storage space under the footrest. I am not sure if other seats act the same but mine kept wobbling and making noises. It could be loose screws or some manufacturing defect.
Since the IFE was not working, I spent most of the time on the meal. The lunch had two options so menu and beverage booklets were not necessary. Crews walked around the cabin, asking each passenger to choose between the two options. It was a simple lunch: Seafood pasta with salad, bread, and fruits.
Now the problem comes here. Two hours flight is still long excluding the time on taxiways and Vietnam Airlines does not operate the IFE system even for the business class passengers. The monitor only showed Vietnam Airlines advertisements that were repeated and repeated until landing.
The business class on A350s are also equipped with Thales AVANT system and contents provided by LOTUSTAR in-flight entertainments. 15.4-inch touch screen monitor screen and an AC power socket underneath the tray table are both installed. There was no wi-fi available on this flight at all and I hope VN provides at least wi-fi service on board soon for more comfort on the flight.
The business-class lavatory is located at the front and there is only one lavatory available in the front section. Although there are two more by door 2L and 2R, I think premium economy passengers use those lavatories. The tap is a sensor type while the water temperature is manually set by pressing either the red or blue marking. While most the aircraft have a flush button above or at a close distance from the toilet, A350s have the flush button on the edge of the wall.
This Vietnam Airlines’ Airbus A350 experience was very different from Qatar Airways I have used last year. It was a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City but still having no IFE, pillow, and blanket in a business class was a disappointing experience. Overall, this was a 4-star flight experience. The reverse herringbone seats are my favorites and installing them into some A350s instead of staggered seats is a thumbs up. Furthermore, whichever airlines I have tried until now, cabin crews were always helpful, friendly, and serious. This includes VN flights as well. But there should also be more improvements to passenger comfort to make flying more enjoyable with Vietnam Airlines.
*Note that if you look at the description of VN’s A350 below, there are two different IFE equipment: Panasonic eX3 and Thales AVANT. The staggered configuration uses Panasonic while reverse herringbone uses Thales.