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Bits: 777 Manchester-Munich, Qatar & Vueling codeshare, £1660 London-Melbourne business

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News in brief:

Last chance to fly a 777 from Manchester to Munich

Singapore Airlines is restructuring its European routes and is about to launch a direct flight from Singapore to Manchester.  This flight will carry on to Houston, creating a new Manchester – Houston route.

From the end of October, the current Singapore – Munich – Manchester service will end.

This means that you have just a few weeks left, if you live near Manchester, to experience the novelty of flying a long-haul aircraft from Manchester to Munich.

The cheapest return fare I can currently see is £163 return which is not ludicrously cheap but also not entirely extortionate.  However, the return flight from Munich is a painful 6.35am.

If you have any Star Alliance miles, redemption flights in Business Class are very easy to get on this route – and you get a flat bed.  The tax is around £80 return.  A cash return is business is around £400.

You can book on the Singapore Airlines site here.

Singapore Airlines

Qatar and Vueling announce codeshares

The relationship between Qatar Airways and IAG, the parent of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, continues to deepen after Qatar recently increased its IAG shareholding.

Qatar Airways flight codes will be placed on 67 Vueling routes which pass through Barcelona or Rome, allowing Qatar to sell connecting flights to those destinations.  Qatar business class passengers will be booked into Vueling ‘Excellence Class’ with fast-track security, lounge access and priority boarding and seating.

Vueling Qatar codeshare

£1,660 business class to Melbourne

Finally, Vietnam Airlines is selling a VERY aggressive £1,660 business class return fare from Heathrow to Melbourne at the moment.

Vietnam Airlines is a serious business, if you were thinking otherwise.  They are a member of the SkyTeam alliance.  More importantly, they have eight new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft either on order or in service.

I had no problem finding this fare in January.  You are looking for a £640 pre-tax fare each way as Business Saver.

In theory free stopovers are allowed in Vietnam under the fare rules.  There is a long lay-over in Vietnam (15 hours on the outbound) if you don’t stopover and it seems you would need a visa to leave the airport. (EDIT: no longer, see comments)

You will be on a new Boeing 787 all the way.  The impressive fully flat seating looks similar to Finnair / Qatar / Cathay with a herringbone layout.

Comments (52)

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  • PalCsaky says:

    British passport holders can enter Vietnam without visa for tourist trips not exceeding 15 days.

    • Rod says:

      Is this a new rule? I went to Hanoi last year and needed a visa for a 7 day holiday

      • AndyW says:

        Quite new, I forget exactly when it came in but definitely the case. I spent two weeks in Jan, no Visa required

      • Nick says:

        I guess you travelled before 1st July 2015? Visa waiver was introduced initially from 1st July 2015 to 1st July 2016 and has recently been extended by a further year to 1st July 2017. This is for a maximum stay of 15 days.

        I am looking forward to visiting Vietnam this November and thanks to Rob Burgess’ excellent Head for Points website am paying just £852 return for business class flights with Qatar Airways ex Amsterdam – booked in January.

        • Genghis says:

          With the savings on visa, that’s 200 glasses of Bia Hoi per person.

          • AVM says:

            Is Bia Hoi Vietnamese analogue of Specsavers?

          • Peter K says:

            I love this comment! As my job is in optics it takes on an extra level for me. Should’ve gone to Bia Hoi!

      • Michael Holt says:

        The no visa tourist up to 15 days rule was introduced mid 2015 for one year. The Veitnam government extended the privilege another year one the first anniversary. No visa required if you hold a UK passport (single entry) up to 15 days until July(?) 2017

    • Phill Ramsay says:

      Just a point on the visa exemption, yes it is for 15 days but if you do a stop over on the way out I am not sure of the implications of flying back through vietnam, not sure if you would need to look at the multiple entry visa?

  • TGLoyalty says:

    O/T Virgin Red app offer for 3000 flying club miles if you sign up through the app.

    • Hobbit says:

      Most readers and may be their family is probably already a member.
      Wish if Virgin allowed children their own account like BAEC.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        You just never know there’s always someone just turning 18 or not interested in flying club before

        Offers runs til 17th September

  • Alice says:

    I’ve only flown short-haul economy with Vietnam Airlines and they were pretty decent.

    Ho Chi Minh wasn’t the best airport for transiting through though. They were surprised to see somebody transiting and there wasn’t a lot to do and no WiFi, I certainly wouldn’t want to spend 15 hours there; this was a few years ago, things may have improved.

    • Genghis says:

      I’ve only flown with them within Vietnam last year (5 flights) and they ran a decent operation with flights (surprisingly) running on time. SGN though is indeed awful.

    • Rob says:

      Can confirm SGN had very good and free wifi today 🙂

  • Oh! Matron! says:

    Have done a Virgin gold run in 1st on SIN-MAN. Yes, the times suck. However, there were only two of us in 1st! The service was amazing!!!!! There were so many staff, they didn’t know what to do with each other 🙂

    Will be interesting, IMMSMC, to see what the prices to MAN-Houston will be

  • Michael Holt says:

    You state a stop over in Vietnam would require a visa. Not so as entry into Vietnam for tourist purposes with a UK passport is visa free up to 15 days single entry

  • pointsarb says:

    @ Genghis. Interested to hear your thoughts on Vietnam as a beach destination please. Don’t usually go East for our beach holidays (we always end up in Mexico or Caribbean in general) but looking to do something different over either Xmas this year or Easter next year with two young infants in tow. Any thoughts/opinions gratefully received!


    • Genghis says:

      So we went for our honeymoon last year and overall it was excellent. We travelled throughout the country: Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Mai Chau, Can Tho and Phu Quoc – probably not the kind of itinerary with two young infants, however!

      Vietnam beaches aren’t exactly the best but combined with the friendliness of the people and the quality of the food, they’re great. In terms of beach, we spent a week on Phu Quoc island (think Phuket – probably not the best benchmark if you don’t go east – about 20 years ago. 5 days at Peppercorn Beach report (great setting but simple hotel) and 2 nights at Salinda in the main town.

      My wife wants to go back (mainly just for the food) so we might have to somehow work that one into a future trip to SE Asia.

      If you’d like some more specifics, happy to help.

      • pointsarb says:

        Thanks Genghis and Roger for your thoughts. Have my eye on staying at the Intercontinental Nha Trang. Looks like a great beach front property and hopefully I’ll get a nice upgrade with my Ambassador status!

        If anyone here has stayed at this particular IC hotel please do let me know.

        • CV3V says:

          I have the IC Nha Trang booked for December, hoping Amb status will get an upgrade. Note the opposite identical tower is an apartment block which has a lot of Air BnB apartments to rent, they look good value.

          • Jonny says:

            Went on my honeymoon to Vietnam too a few years back and absolutely loved it.

            Stayed in Mia Resort near Nha Trang which was fantastic – my wife actually cried when we left! Villas with their own private pool at very reasonable prices. Though went shortly after it opened so prices have probably gone up quite a bit now.

            Would also recommend Intercontinental in HCMC (or Saigon as everyone there calls it). Probably the best service I’ve ever received in a hotel – particularly memorable/amusing moment included my wife sneezing, and someone rushing to her side with a tissue within seconds! Booked a couple of nights with pointbreaks, but haven’t seen it pop up again for a long time now.

          • pointsarb says:

            Ditto CV3V, let me know how your upgrade goes!

      • AndyR says:

        Hi Genghis, how did you find Halong Bay? Too touristy or was ok? We’re off to Vietnam in November and still deciding whether to do it or not.

        • ankomonkey says:

          Agree with Genghis. You have to do it really. It is nice and I doubt you’ll regret it.

          • harry says:

            yep on the bucket list once we pack the kids off to university

            a big regret as I used to love that neck of the woods

            I remember a friend at work (Veryan) went there more or less the first year it opened up and I was dumbfounded she didn’t choose an easier destination such as Thailand – but she reported back how brilliant it was

            must have been about 1995

    • C77 says:

      Stay as south as possible. A lot of the beach destinations are further up the coast towards such Nha Trang and Da Nang and it can be fairly temperate here in the winter months and the weather not brilliant. Places like Con Dao island in the south (airport code VCS) will be a lot warmer over the festive. There’s a beautiful Six senses Resort too if you’re after white sands, clean beaches and barefoot luxury.

      • pointsarb says:

        Thanks C77 that’s very useful to know. Will Nha Trang have decent weather over Xmas or is it better to wait until Easter? We had our eye on the Intercontinental Nha Trang……..

  • Roger says:

    We had a great stay/individual tour of Vietnam soon after it opened up in the 90’s, with some wonderful and challenging memories. Visa required at the time, needing a personal visit to the consulate in South Kensington with a bundle of banknotes.

    It was part of the greatest airline promotion I’ve experienced. For the 5th anniversary of Star Alliance, I had to fly each of the original *A members to earn 5 pairs of economy tickets anywhere in the world that the carriers flew. When you have an hour to spare :D, let me tell you about our trips to New Zealand, Canada, the US, Peru and Thailand.

    (Back on topic.) At the time, Vietnam Airlines had a new jet fleet (Airbuses I think) and our BKK-SGN and HAN-BKK IT flights were all but empty. On the HAN-BKK flight, because I had food poisoning (dodgy prawns in Hanoi, I suspect) I couldn’t face normal catering. The sympathetic FA gave me her sandwiches. I don’t know whether she ate my meal, but for me it was a fair exchange. Seeing Boots opposite the then Siam Intercontinental was a welcome relief.

    We travelled over Christmas and New Year, partly to avoid European Christmas. We were very touched when on Christmas morning, our pair of guides gave us Christmas presents. Not always obvious, much of Vietnam is Catholic.

    At the time, the Vietnamese were clearly on a learning curve in incoming tourism. I’d love to go back and see whether they’re still so individual or have become slick like much of SE Asia. I hadn’t contemplated visiting Oz at this stage, but such a trip has become more interesting today!

    Why challenging (first para)? Seeing limbless US ex-servicemen in tours as they revisited ‘Nam, but that’s a whole other topic.

    • Roger says:

      Sorry, ‘in tours’ (last para) should be ‘in tears’. Makes quite a difference.

  • Mikeact says:

    I’ve just come off the phone to the KL help desk. I’m looking for 2 x J , one way from Melbourne back to London. As we want a stopover, (which are not allowed on one way redemptions) I’m having to make it two separate bookings. They have to call Vietnam, so we will see, but hopefully it will work out as Vietnam is very much on our bucket list!

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