Tuesday, 23 August 2016

4th Attempt: Successful - Vietnam Airlines Boeing 777-200ER

Welcome to my trip report on Vietnam Airlines Boeing 777 joyride!


*Aircraft photos are credited to the respective photographers from Airliners.net 



Introduction 

This is one of my many trip reports on Vietnam Airlines but its a significant one because after 4 attempts on trying to fly on the airline's Boeing 777, I accomplished it. Trust me, the days before my flight, I was quite worried, frequently checking the airline's website for any changes to my flight. There had been changes on the Ho Chi Minh - Hanoi flights and it was a good thing I didn't go for that route because the flight I was originally looking at for this route was changed to A321! You can imagine how furious I would be if I was flying on that flight. Boeing 777 to Airbus A321! Noooooo. 

Da Nang was a city I always wanted to visit but for this time, I would be there for my flying trip as I have plans to go back there in the near future. So finally the day before I did the check in and I got what I want, the Boeing 777.

My booking 





Mobile check-in 



Seat map of the Boeing 777


I had the chance to pick a Premium Economy Class seat (row 15), but I wanted the window seat. 


Seat 51A was my choice 




Mobile check in was done successfully. 


Food photos taken during my stay at Ho Chi Minh City (Some photos were taken by my partner)

My partner had the seafood spaghetti while I had the ID Cafe's special pork rice meal. 


Looks familiar? Starbuck's latest promotional drinks at that time. I prefer the strawberry drink


Japanese Ramen at a highly rated Japanese restaurant 


Green tea cake 


A celebratory dinner with my partner at a Mediterranean restaurant. My partner had the roasted duck while I had the steak. We both agreed the steak was better.


Blueberry cheesecake and a cup of tea at Coffee Bean 


My breakfast at Yen's cafe - don't think I will return any time soon. 


Chicken rice in Vietnamese style - delicious 


Really good Vietnamese noodles at one of the local restaurants introduced by my partner. 


Breakfast at my favourite cafe near my hotel 


Decent steak at a western restaurant in one of the newest shopping malls 


Club sandwich at a cafe 


English breakfast 


Pretty good fried rice


Matcha and Strawberry cheesecake 


On the day of departure 

I spent the morning lazing around before making my way to the airport around lunch time. This has become a familiar sight to me as I made my way to the check-in counter. Do note that Vietjetair check-in counter is at a different location. 



For the international terminal, you can walk there. It takes only 10 minutes to do so. 



Entrance to the check in counters for Vietjetair 


The restaurant (Phoenix), I should check this out on my next visit 



I tried using the self check-in kiosk but it failed. The helpful staff was clueless also and she directed me to the check-in counter. The very nice male staff assisted me and actually offered to change my seat to another row. I asked whether he could get me onto one of the Premium Economy window seats, but he couldn't find it. His patience and friendliness attitude was impressive, probably the best staff I encounter so far at this airport. 


While waiting, I did a check on which 777 would take me to Da Nang. VN-A144 was the only 777 on the way to airport at that time so my guess was this aircraft and it turned out to be. 


Once security and passport checks were done, I was at the air side. 

Air side 


If you are curious whether you can play Pokemon Go at this airport, only the Pokemon Stops located at the taxi stand for this terminal.


The departures at that time


Hello, VN-A866! Nice to see you again!



It wasn't crowded at that time 


Gate 15-20 are for aircraft parked at the remote parking lots, usually for ATR-72 flights. 



Caught the 9000th Airbus A320 that day. 


At that time, my aircraft had arrived and was parked near gate 14 but my assigned gate was at 6 which was later change to 14 to my relief. 


It was crowded near the gate



My ride: VN-A144




My flight route: SGN-DAD

Miles: 375


Heading towards the aero-bridge 



Nice to see you, VN-A144. This was supposed to my aircraft the last time I went to Ha noi, but was changed to the flight to the same destination. Got you this time.


Time to board the aircraft 




Finally on board the airline's Boeing 777


Date of departure: 9th August 2016
Airline: Vietnam Airlines
Route: SGN-DAD
Flight: VN122
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Registration: VN-A144 
Delivered on 11th September 2003
Configuration: C27 W54 Y228 
Engines: 2 X PW4084
Line number: 453
Gate: 14
Seat: 51A 
Load: 70%
Schedule departure: 1545
Boarding: 1515
Push back: 1549
Take off: 1602
Schedule arrival: 1700
Actual arrival: 1656
Departure runway: 25L
Arrival runway: 35R

In-flight experience 

Announcement was made to board the aircraft, this gate was located at the last gate of the domestic terminal and when you walk there you can see the international terminal. I was happy to see the Boeing 777, to finally get this off my wishlist. Would have prefer to fly it on a longer sector.

Once on board, I was greeted by the crew but most of them were just too similar to one another - cold looking and not a sign of enthusiasm in their jobs, sad to say. We pushed back on time and a Caucasian pilot came on the speaker to give us our flight details. When he mentioned about thunderstorm near Da Nang, I was a bit worried. However, the flight there was smooth especially the landing. It was a great day for flying in fact. 

For this short flight, only a bottle drink was served, can't complain for the price I paid and its the 777 I am after so doesn't matter to me. The flight was full and I sat beside 2 Vietnamese ladies who seemed a bit nervous about flying. Most of the passengers were local people, heading to Da nang probably for holiday. Nice to be able to fly a wide-body on this short domestic flight. 

Once we landed, we taxied to the remote parking lot and disembark from there. Da Nang airport isn't big, check out my photos of the airport in my return trip report. 

Business Class photos (Airliners.net photographers)


Looks prettey decent 


Premium Economy Class 

3-3-3 layout, same as Economy Class 


Just 5 rows for Premium Economy - 45 seats 


The dark colours of the seats made the cabin looks dull 




Premium Economy Class legroom space 



Beware of almost windowless seats 



My ideal seat as it has the engine view 


Difference between Premium Economy and Economy Class? Legroom space is better at the former. 

Economy Class seats 

Cabin crew was seen waiting for the arrival of the passengers 




Notice how tight the seat pitch 



A couple of crew having a laugh or two, you should also do that to your passengers! Make us feel welcome.


I was sitting near the rear 



Here is my seat, 51A 




The rear of the cabin, good idea to have the crew's seat facing the front cabin.


Not so modern looking cabin 


3-3-3 layout 








The old CRT overhead monitor screen - brings me back memories of flying in the 1990s 



It was a good thing I board the aircraft early, that allowed me enough time to take photos of the Economy Class. 


Few more shots of the cabin before I left 






Time to leave the aircraft 


More photos of my seat 

Legroom space 


First generation IFE (In-flight Entertainment System)


View from my seat 


Foldable tray holder 



Nice to have the drink holder 


What's on the IFE screen? I was fortunate that the crew switched it on during the flight 


Safety video 



Makes me feel like flying in the late 1990s/early 2000s


This system is non AVOD meaning you can't pause/rewind/fast forward your program and they would be replayed after they are finished. Its like a loop. The good thing is there are a number of choices. 


The important seat map 


What surprises me is this aircraft along with the other 777s has the camera view 



Remote control 




What's inside the seat pocket? 

Disposal Bag 


In-flight Fashion Magazine 


Safety Card


What was provided? 


A bottle of water 


Window shot photos 

Parked beside VN-A325 Airbus A321 aircraft, I flew this aircraft from Ho Chi Minh to Singapore few years ago. 


Pushed back and heard the familiar Pratt and Whitney engines starting up. 


We taxied to runway 25 Left for departure 




Video of the take off 


Take off! Unfortunately the window is dirty 


Take off was smooth and we made a few turns before heading towards our destination






Great day for flying! I spent a bit of time looking at the world passing by. There wasn't enough time to enjoy a movie anyway. 


See the issue here about the window? 


The sight of Da Nang appeared as we were descending 




On final approach to Da Nang. Unfortunately the sun was facing my direction




Video of the arrival 


We touched down smoothly and taxied to the gate in less than 10 minutes. 




I knew at once we were parked at a remote parking lot. 


Nice to disembark from the aircraft this way 


Spotted the other aircraft in the tarmac, we were the biggest in size.


How huge the Boeing 777 is! 



Thanks for the ride, VN-A144!


Welcome to Da Nang Airport!


Heading for the arrival hall 


Walking to the arrival hall took less than 5 minutes. 


My rating:

Airline's website and mobile app: 7/10
Ho Chi Minh Airport experience: 7/10
Check-in staff: 8/10
In-flight experience: 7/10
In-flight service: 6/10
IFE system: 5/10 (Ancient but at least there are a few choices)
Cabin interior: 6/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Aircraft condition: 10/10
Flight enjoyment: 10/10
Overall rating: 76/100

Conclusion

I am glad to have finally gotten Vietnam Airlines Boeing 777 and now I can concentrate to fly on Vasco and Vietnam Airlines' ATR-72 and after which I would complete the airline's fleet types. My visit to Vietnam as some of you readers know is now on a regular basis and I will look for other ways to get there. Qatar B787 and Mynamar International Airlines B737-800 are in my mind so stay tuned for that.

This airline's Boeing 777 has outdated products and flying on them in Economy Class may not be comfortable with tight legroom space and outdated IFE system. The airline currently (August 2016) has 4 of this aircraft type and will be phrased out once more A350-900s entering the fleet. So if your flight is changed to this aircraft, don't be disappointed. This aircraft will soon disappear from our skies and it will be the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft dominating the wide-body fleet. From what I heard, the Boeing 777 will be phrased out before the Airbus A330-200. (You can check out my A330 trip report over here. Apart from the cabin products, the Boeing 777 is a great aircraft to fly on, the existence of this aircraft is a primary reason why the Airbus A340-300, -500 and -600 series fail. 

Do check out my other trip reports on this airline and hope you enjoy them!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,
Charles