Whenever we usually fly to South East Asia, we’re sure to book luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi in order to enjoy our lay-overs. Vietnam is a long way away, so it’s no surprise that aircrafts have historically broken up the journey. However, one airline has been innovative enough to take their Dreamliner B787-9 and propel it direct to Hanoi in just over 13 hours. This decision has made them pioneers in the industry and less time travelling means more time exploring the city! Our girl Jenna tried out their Premium Economy experience on her last trip to Vietnam and she gave us the low down…
“Last month I was lucky enough to go on a trip of a lifetime around South East Asia. With five beautiful hotels and four amazing cities to tick off my list, there wasn’t going to much time for messing around or dealing with dreaded jet lag. Luckily for me, Vietnam Airlines have covered both those bases with their Premium Economy offering on the direct flights from London Heathrow to Hanoi International, Vietnam.
Check-in was a breeze with a hefty 30KG baggage allowance which meant I could pack everything required for Hanoi, Bangkok, Siem Reap and even a beach stint in Phu Quoc. Great for me as ‘travelling light’ just isn’t in my natural vocabulary. The staff are friendly, but don’t expect any good will upgrades for any of your friends travelling in a lower class, even if Premium is empty as they reserve these for their LotusMiles members. However, if you want to slip into Economy to chill with your travel buddies mid-flight, they’re pretty laid back.
Stepping onto the aircraft, the interiors are chic and calming with teal and blue on the seats with light and airy cream shades throughout the rest of the cabin. The hostesses are also noticeable from a mile off with their svelte frames draped in teal dresses and white wide legged trousers – tres chic.
Sitting down in the spacious Premium Economy cabin, it’s basically like Business Class on a UK Carrier. The seats are comfortable, the entertainment centre is modern and it just feels totally relaxed. Lighting is configured so that it varies during the service to aid relaxation, sleep and reduce the effects of jetlag. The aircraft itself also has set design features that stop that ‘what time is it?’ wake up call the next day with the fact that the cabin air-pressure is lower and there’s optimal humidity making it feel more similar to being on the ground.
Looking at the menu, I loved how they offered both a Western and Eastern option for Breakfast and Dinner with a range of drinks to suit all tastes. Sitting down after dinner with a G&T, a sheet-mask and my blanket was a particularly relaxing moment! I can honestly say that both cuisines were executed perfectly with Chicken Thigh, steamed Rice & Curry sauce being an obvious favourite with British-style Hake with a Chocolate Cake to finish on the way home.
Vietnam Airlines’ flights are also carefully scheduled to offer convenient overnight flights in both
directions, so you don’t mess up your body clock too much. Our flight from Heathrow to Hanoi was at 11am meaning we had to stay up a little when we arrived, but our flight back from Ho Chi Mihn City to Heathrow was at midnight meaning the time difference felt non-existent by landing at 7am.
Vietnam Airlines’ staff also proved to be as helpful on the ground as in the sky when we ran into confusion with our Visas after leaving Hanoi and re-entering Vietnam via Bangkok. It could have been a stressful situation, but the staff on the ground made the experience effortless and ensured us the plane would not leave without us! Their internal flight to the beautiful beach island of Phu Quoc is literally 45 minutes but you’re still treated to bottled water and the same great service as you would on long-haul. A very different story to our internal flights here in the UK!
Next time you are considering an Eastern escape, why not go traditional? Vietnam Airlines is proud to have been successfully operating the Dreamliner with a team of nearly 100% of Vietnamese pilots, hosts and technicians meaning you get a totally authentic Vietnamese experience. When I was away, I fell in love with the kind nature of the Vietnamese people, so extending their hospitality on my flight home was an absolute dream.”
Vietnam Airlines operates the UK’s only nonstop scheduled services to Vietnam, with daily flights from Heathrow T4 to either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Flights are operated by the latest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class cabins offering SkyTrax 4-star rated service.
Return Economy fares start from £464 per person; Premium Economy – with dedicated check-in, priority boarding, 10kgs extra baggage allowance and 42-inch seat pitch – starts from £938 per person; and Business Class, with fully lie-flat beds, starts from £1,818 per person.