When I finally decided to get on an Indochina trip to finalize my bucket list to visit all the 10 countries in Southeast Asia, I knew that I wanted to prioritize Vietnam Airlines more than any others since I never flew with the airline before. Not only for the sake of experience, but I also want to write about the review of Vietnam Airlines and my flying experience with the airline.
And this time, I'm gonna share with you my experience of flying with Vietnam Airlines for the first time. After having a short layover and staying at Bary Inn Hotel close to KLIA, I flew directly from Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City with the airlines using VN 674 flight. So, how was my experience?!
Vietnam Airlines: Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) Flights
As I checked the flights from Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City, there are actually a lot of options with different airlines. However, even before I confirmed my flight ticket, I knew I wanted to try something different for the sake of content. 😛
Although it wasn't my first time traveling to Vietnam, I had never flown with Vietnam Airlines before. And when I checked the flight options to Ho Chi Minh City from Kuala Lumpur, the price wasn't too expensive.
Although mind you, there are several options from Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City with Vietnam Airlines, most of them have a stopover in Hanoi. So far, they only have a direct flight to Ho Chi Minh City from KLIA: VN 674.
It departs daily from KLIA to Tansonnhat International Airport in HCMC. The flight schedule should depart from KLIA at 20.50 (GMT+8), and the ETA in HCMC should be at 21.50 (GMT+7).
Flight Ticket and How to Book It
I booked the flight ticket through Traveloka a few months before my departure for IDR 801.100 (around $56 USD). Yes, there are some other options that are cheaper with budget airlines as well. However, Vietnam Airlines include in-flight meals as well as checked-in baggage up to 23 kilograms.
The latter is so much needed since checked-in baggage could be quite expensive, even for the budget airlines. I mean, I carried big luggage that weighed around 20 kilograms, so it was perfect for me!
The day before my flight, I also checked in online through Vietnam Airline's official website. Apart from the check-in, I also liked to see the seat and meals option. While I could pick my seat number to get the window seat, it seems that for this route Vietnam Airlines didn't provide any special meal options.
Check-In Process (When You Travel Without a Return Ticket)
This was actually my first time traveling without having a return ticket confirmed. But having the experience of working at some airlines, both as ground staff and a flight attendant, I convinced myself that I got this. It's like, I knew what to expect and I just got along with it.
And well, it was kind of expected that the staff at the check-in counter took some time before he checked my baggage in. First, he asked whether I got the return ticket so I said no. I told him my original plan that I was going to take a bus from Vietnam to Cambodia.
At the time, I didn't have any confirmed ticket to go back to Indonesia. However, I got a confirmed flight ticket from Chiang Mai to Bangkok the next month. When I explained that, he had to communicate it to his supervisor, and then he asked me again whether I've been to Vietnam before. So I said yes, I've been to Vietnam 3 years ago. I even brought my old, expired passport to show him the stamp for my courtesy.
All of them weren't convincing enough, because the next thing he asked was how much money I had with me. I told him I got $250 USD in my purse, but I also bring cards for my travel.
I showed everything to convince him, and in the end, he asked me to sign a document that basically stated for any inconvenience that might cause since I don't have the return ticket, I will be fully responsible for it. I signed the document, and they checked in my baggage.
Flying with VN 674 from KLIA to HCMC
I was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City only a few days before the Chinese New Year or Tet Holiday, which is a big holiday in Vietnam. It wasn't so surprising to see that the flight was full and people take a lot of hand carries. Something that might be stressful for the cabin crew onboard. 😛
My first flight with Vietnam Airlines was delayed for an hour. I couldn't speak for myself, but I had a chat with some other passenger and he was like, “Honestly, it's common to find the flights delayed with Vietnam Airlines.”
It was my first and only time flying with the Vietnamese national carrier, so I'm not sure how often the airlines got their flights delayed. The delay cost me a SIM card I purchased through Klook that I couldn't redeem as the shop was already closed when I arrived.
Aircraft & In-Flight Services
We flew with Airbus 321 with the 3-seater in economy class. We passed the business class during the boarding, and it was a 2-seater for the guys in the upper high. LOL.
All the safety demonstration were played through video in the monitors around the cabin, since the cabin crew was quite busy dealing with the passengers' hand carry. Mind you, it was a full flight.
As I checked in online, I got to pick the seat exactly behind the emergency exit. I couldn't pick the emergency exit one, and I honestly wouldn't want to sit there either.
While boarding, they packed some blankets for us to take in case you need one during the flight. I didn't take it as it wasn't packed in anything. I'm not the cleanest person in the world, but I find it a bit less hygienic. And that happened before coronavirus issues arise.
They also provide newspapers, although at the time they only have Vietnamese newspapers so that particular service wasn't useful from my point of view. 😛
If there's one thing that I was looking forward to finding out for the flight, it would be nothing but the in-flight meals. I've never been a big fan of in-flight meals, even when I was flying. There were times when I'd rather pack my own cooking than having the in-flight meals. And I'm not a good cook. Can you imagine? LOL
For this flight, the option given by the crew was either rice or noodle. I'd go for noodle since, well… I wasn't really in the mood for rice at the time. And I wasn't disappointed.
From all the airlines that I've flown with, so far my favorite in-flight meal would be from Srilanka Airlines on the route from Hongkong to Bangkok. That, until I tried Vietnam Airlines… It was great!
The appetizer – Vegetable salad with shrimp
This is the part of the menu that I loved the most. The salad was surprisingly fresh, and the shrimp is basically the cherry on top. It was super yummy! Honestly, forget about AirAsia and their Santan restaurant, Vietnam Airlines could open a restaurant anywhere and I would definitely go.
The main course – Beef noodle
It's delicious!!! I mean, the veggies still tasted like they've been frozen for a while. But the marinated beef is quite decent and it's blended well with the noodle. Hands down the best aircraft meals that I've ever tasted. 🙂
The dessert – Banana
Okay, so banana is like my #3 favorite fruit right after grapes and orange, and it's banana in its perfect form. It's nice!!
Before the cabin crew came to collect the tray of your meals, you would be offered a drink. I asked for a glass of mineral water and orange juice at the time.
Review: Flying Vietnam Airlines for the First Time
Apart from the delay, I think I'm quite satisfied with the service Vietnam Airlines has given during their flight. Mind you, they are also a part of Skytrax alliance members so you might as well get connected using the airlines for some routes with the other airlines.
- First and foremost, their aircraft meals… I really have never tasted any other aircraft meals that come close to that delicious. I'm not exaggerating.
- It is quite affordable for full-service airlines. I mean, I was quite lucky to get it for less than $60 USD since I booked a few months before the departure date. Especially since I flew during the peak season as it was around Tet holiday.
- The ability to check-in online and pick the seat. The seat I picked was quite comfortable, and the leg space is quite spacious. Although to be fair, I'm not that tall to complain about leg space, to begin with. 😛
- As I talked to some fellow passengers and they said that delayed flights are quite common for Vietnam Airlines, I guess the punctuality for Vietnam's national carrier is not really their top quality? The delay period isn't that long, but it cost me the money I spent on the sim card that I booked through Klook, so I still had some loss because of this.
- All the passengers have their hand-carry that the crew had a hard time to allocate the stuff in the overhead compartments, I carried my backpack, my laptop bag and camera and everything I put under the seat in front of me to save the space for the bigger bags.
Overall, here's my overall review of Vietnam Airlines: I wouldn't mind flying again with Vietnam Airlines. I just think that I should be more mindful when it comes to booking anything in advance to avoid the Klook sim card happen again in case of the delay.
Other than that, I was quite satisfied with Vietnam Airlines. How about you? Have you ever flown with Vietnam Airlines? How did you find it? Let me know what you think below, and cheerio! 😀
Marya The BeauTraveler
I am the founder and main editor at The BeauTraveler. I spent 4 years working in the aviation industry but ironically got to travel more right after quitting the industry in 2015. Born and raised in Indonesia, I started working remotely in 2017, and while I stay at home most of the time, I also regularly spend 2-3 months living a semi-digital nomad life elsewhere every year.
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