Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tokyo/Vietnam July 2011 - Vietnam Airlines 1543 Economy Class (HAN - HUI)

***This post is part 9 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

We again decided to take a private car from the Hanoi Elegance Diamond Hotel to Noi Bai International Airport to avoid having to deal with the taxis. The cost was only $18 for the roughly 40-minute trip.

Although, I must say, having spent about 4 days in Hanoi, I found the taxi scams to be a lot less serious than some of the horror stories I read online. As long as you know the few legitimate taxi companies such as Mai Linh and Hanoi Tourist Taxi, and only stick with them, you won't have any problems. I found Hanoi Tourist Taxi to be a little pricier than Mai Linh, but both were safe and didn't have tampered-with meters.

Noi Bai International felt a lot less claustrophobic than when I arrived, probably because of the daylight and the larger departure hall. And even though we arrived 2 hours before our flight, the check-in lines were already chaotic. In Asia, local travelers seem to try to transport as many boxes and suitcases as they can, usually going way over the weight limit, and then having to pay extra at the counter. Though funny enough, my friend's suitcase just barely passed the limit (it was actually slightly over, but the agent didn't say anything).

Security was quick and painless, and soon we were waiting at the gate. Airside shops and restaurants were very sparse, just a couple of stands selling local fast food fare and drinks/snacks. I did notice a Vietnam Airlines business lounge at the end of the hall, but from what I saw looking in, it didn't look particularly fancy or interesting.

Pretty much only VN planes here

Vietnam Airlines 1543
Airbus A321
Hanoi (HAN) - Hue (HUI)
Saturday July 9, 2011
Departure: 1:20 PM (scheduled)
Arrival: 2:30 PM (scheduled)
Duration: 1h 10m (scheduled)
Seat: 30E (Economy)

Departure was soon announced, without any sort of priority boarding for business class as far as I could tell. Everyone just stood up and a massive line quickly formed. The jet bridge ended downstairs, where everyone boarded a standing room only bus for the short ride to our plane. I did notice a separate, more comfy looking bus for the business passengers. I actually love boarding directly on the tarmac so I can get better up-close pictures of the plane.

This Airbus A321 looked quite new, with very little wear and tear on the seats. Load looked to be approximately 90% in Y, with a few empty seats scattered about. The air conditioning was ridiculously strong... the plane literally looked like a fog machine for most of the flight. Leg room was quite comfortable for the short 1h 10m flight to Hue. I wasn't expecting much in terms of domestic Vietnam Airlines service, but pretty much the only thing that was offered on board was a small bottle of water. There were no snacks or any other types of drinks offered, even for sale. Flight attendants were friendly, but not very engaging as there was pretty much only time for them to pass out water bottles and then prepare for landing.

As quickly as we departed HAN, we were soon descending into HUI. Phu Bai International Airport consisted of one runway and one small terminal. I'm not sure how the "international" designation came about since I don't know of any international flights that currently serves the airport. I think there may have been a HUI-REP direct flight at one point in time, but I'm not sure if it's still operating.

A superfluous 2-minute bus ride took us from our plane to the arrivals hall, and soon we were greeted by our driver from the Orchid Hotel in Hue. Overall, this was a good, no-frills flight that got us from point A to point B safely and comfortably. Since VN has a virtual monopoly on this route, there is probably no need for them to enhance their offering any time soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment