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HFP in Vietnam: Review of Vietnam Airlines Premium Economy from London to Hanoi (Part 2)

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This is part two of our review of Vietnam Airlines Premium Economy on a Boeing 787-9 from London Heathrow to Hanoi.

Part one, which looks at the Vietnam Airlines premium economy seat, can be found here.

This second part looks at the food and in-flight entertainment. As a reminder. Vietnam Airlines offered me and my plus one complimentary flights (one way Premium Economy, one way Business) to Hanoi for review purposes.

Vietnam Airlines premium economy review

Vietnam Airlines premium economy meal service

After take off, cabin crew came round with (basic, over ear) headphones, a menu and cold towels.

The menus were a little confusing. They were listed as covering flights between Hanoi and Paris or Paris and Hanoi. I assumed the meal from London would be the same as the Paris-Hanoi listing but – as I found out –  I was wrong!

Each meal has a western and Asian main course to choose from.  The cabin crew came around with their trolley and handed out our trays. When they got to us we were offered a choice between chicken or beef – not the chicken or salmon in the menu – so we were a little confused.

I wanted to try the Asian main, but it was not clear which was which (I should have asked!). I ended up getting the beef, which was western style – click on any image to enlarge:

Vietnam Airlines premium economy lunch

….. which was frankly, very disappointing.  It was dry and flavourless. I gave the cabin crew a call and asked if they had any of the chicken left …. which they did!

Vietnam Airlines premium economy breakfast

The chicken was far better, and had a nice little kick to it.

There was certainly no shortage of food on the tray.  It included a potato salad and salmon starter (surprisingly delicious), the main course, a bread roll and butter, a fruit dish, a dessert rice dish and some Le President Camembert and table crackers. The Camembert was phenomenal!

At the same time as handing out meal trays the cabin crew also handed out drinks. I went for red wine, which it turns out is poured in these teeny tiny cups!

Vietnam Airlines premium economy wine

Luckily the cabin crew came around with the bottle again after a few minutes. I thought I was being clever when I handed them a normal size plastic cup from earlier, but in fact they poured about the same amount!  I’m told these small glasses are a cultural thing ….

Once the trays were cleared we were offered a full size bottle of water.  The cabin lights were then dimmed to allow people to sleep if they wanted to.

During the flight I wanted to ask for another bottle of water but had trouble calling any cabin crew. Although I used the crew attendant button nobody came – although later on the service was very responsive.

In flight entertainment on Vietnam Airlines

In premium economy the IFE screens pop out of the central armrest. This means they cannot be used for takeoff and landing.

Vietnam Airlines premium economy in flight entertainment

The screen itself is good and extremely responsive, and the Vietnam Airlines catalogue is fairly typical – it isn’t the umpteen thousand channels of Emirates but you are also not stuck with 1970’s re-runs!  It had a mixture of Western and Asian programming, including a variety of new releases.

As someone who is not particularly interested in blockbusters any more it would have been nice to see some more smaller films but that is true of almost any airline I travel on. I ended up watching Tolkien, the Emma Thompson Late Night comedy (which was average – but hardly the fault of Vietnam Airlines!) and the brainless Alita: Battle Angel.

The screen is also where you can find a USB port and the headphone socket. Cleverly, Vietnam Airlines have built some redundancy into the headphone plug. On the seat next to mine the headphone socket wasn’t working. When the cabin crew came round they simply plugged the headphones into another port hidden at the front of the armrest which managed to solve the problem!

Bathrooms

There are two toilets at the front of the premium economy cabin. These are just standard-sized airplane toilets. They do, however, come with several amenities including razors!  I’m not sure who uses them (I couldn’t see shaving cream!) given the tight constraints of the space but it was a nice thought.

Midnight snacks and breakfast

If you feel peckish during the night, you can ask for these tiny sandwiches which come in a range of fillings:

Vietnam Airlines premium economy snack

…… which are nothing to blow you away.

Around an hour to an hour and a half before landing breakfast is served. In order to wake you up they play a display on their mood lighting, which was fun to watch.

The breakfast was a choice between western style scrambled eggs, sausage etc or chicken and vermicelli noodles. I went for the latter:

Vietnam Airlines premium economy lunch

…..  which included another bread bun, selection of fruit and yoghurt.  Given that this was premium economy, the quantity of food on offer was impressive.

The flight concluded with one of the smoothest landings I have experienced!

Conclusion

With the same, spacious seat that Norwegian uses for its premium economy service, Vietnam Airlines has a strong premium economy product.

It is let down a little by the food and drink which is more economy than premium, albeit served in decent sized quantities.

On the other hand, the slippers and abundance of hot towels are not something you would see on other carriers in premium economy and I am very partial to both!  On the whole, premium economy on Vietnam Airlines is a good experience that, with a few tweaks to the soft product, could be excellent.

Keep reading Head for Points over the next few days as I tell you more about my time in this fantastic country.  The final article will look at Vietnam Airlines Business Class.

HFP in Vietnam: Review of Vietnam Airlines Premium Economy from London to Hanoi (Part 1)
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Comments

  1. “There was certainly no shortage of food on the tray.” “Given that this was premium economy, the quantity of food on offer was impressive.”

    Really? This looks like a normal economy meal on Asian airlines, even on shorter flights. Perhaps the large serving of rice and thick sauce makes you feel fuller (not to mention the “seconds” in the earlier meal).

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      But the conclusion is contradictory:

      “It is let down a little by the food and drink which is more economy than premium”

      So which is it?

    • The food in JAL premium economy is a real let down also – it’s the same as the economy meal and not that good even by economy standards. This is one area where BA are really good because the main course in premium economy is a business class main course.
      The quantity of food for the second meal looks good though. BA really cut down on the second meal flying transatlantic, so much so that they had to reverse some of the changes and start to serve something more substantial than a (small) kitkat or muesli bar.

      • Not 100% sure as I don’t fly ther e but weren’t the BA cuts were only for Eastern US/Canada (and Middle East), flights of 6-8 hours while they still had 2 meals for flights the same duration as to Vietnam?

        • Lady London says:

          BA also cut second meal down to a kitkat on the 11 hr SFO runs from the West Coast. That was when i finally had enough and handed it back to thé crew saying ‘clearly British Airways needs this more than i do’. Thé crew admitted it had got pretty embarrassing to them too having to Hans out such rubbish as a ‘second meal’.

          • When was this flight? On my last flight to LA (economy) in August 2018 they had a more substantial meal (pizza in a box – not loads but better). They cut the second meal years ago & then re-introduced it again sometime in 2018.

          • Lady London says:

            late 2017, I think. plus previously.

            Word is they have recovered since, though, and that the second meal in PY on West Coast routes (at least) is now a reasonable proper meal

          • Is it possible to hold them liable for the human rights violations?

    • Agreed. An SQ economy meal looks better than this.

  2. Mary-Elizabeth says:

    I just flew economy on this route and it is literally the same food in economy and premium. IMO it’s not worth the upgrade for a slightly better seat. The leg room in economy was definitely better than BA.

    • good to know!

    • I’d argue that if you are over 6′ it makes a big difference. I don’t really care about food that much; I do care about being comfortable enough to sleep.

  3. we flew business last year and it was a pleasant experience, marginally better than BA. average food and decent wine. very good value as well – our internal flights were business as well and were discounted.

  4. ‘The Camembert was phenomenal’
    ROFL

  5. Nice review although using the term “bathroom” when there is no bath grates me (sorry, I know I’m particular 🙂 )

  6. I’m booked on the Hanoi – Londow in Business just before Xmas, so I will be very interested in Part 2. Needed to get back from Singapore, and the Vietnam Airlines fare via Hanoi was much more competitive than some of the bigger carriers.

  7. Christian says:

    This review is enough to deter me from looking at their services in the near-term. It looks OK, but I’m not going to pay for a premium product that just looks ‘OK’.

    On the emailed articles, can you make sure it’s clear who has written them? It’s always good to know which of your team has had the experience. Part 1 of the Vietnam Airlines review did not have this.

    • That was a one off. The email did not go properly so I resent it manually, leaving off the author data as that is usually automated.

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