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Monday 17 April 2017

Flight report: business class on Vietnam Airlines

"So Vietnam Airlines, what are they like?" asked one friend. "They are not a full-service airline, are they?" asked another. 

Which suggests Vietnam Airlines have some PR work to do to lift them out of the same imagined category of budget Asian airlines like Air Asia and Scoot. 

Yes, Vietnam Airlines is a full-service carrier. Your fare includes baggage, meals and all that you would expect. 

And Vietnam Airlines also offers a fully lie-flat business class bed in business class (below) and a very comfortable premium economy cabin.

It also now flies direct from Sydney to both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi - and I was in premium economy one way and business the other for the recent Hanoi inaugural. 

The thrice-weekly Hanoi service is operated on a 274-seat Boeing 787-9, adding 85,000 seats annually and there are now 17 flights each week on Vietnam Airlines between Australia and Vietnam. 

The Boeing 787s business seats are configured 1-2-1, guaranteeing every traveller direct access to the aisle and, thoughtfully, an AC power outlet that accepts Australian plugs without an adaptor. 

Yes, there is Champagne before takeoff; Heidsieck & Co. Monopole, and a choice of cocktails from an impressive list after takeoff. 

The business wine list reflects Vietnam's French heritage with two reds a St Emilion Grand Cru and a Beaumes de Venise  and two whites (a Bourgogne Chardonnay and a Bordeaux Semillon Sauvignon Blanc), but the food can pack a spicy punch. 

Think business class choices like herbed salmon and smoked duck (or mains like braised beef ribs with dried lily buds and steamed rice, or prawn mousse on sugarcane and green mango relish).

For breakfast try a traditional English brekkie, or a traditional beef pho (noodle soup).  

The cabin crew could maybe do with some smiling lessons (Vietnam Airlines is a state-owned enterprise), and the entertainment is quaintly old fashioned (Brocade Weaving of The Tay People, anyone?) but I managed to sleep almost all the way - the greatest luxury business class can provide. 

Business class return fares sell from $3,250 including taxes, fees and limousine pick-up on arrival in Hanoi, and earn SkyTeam frequent flyer points.

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