I am pleased to introduce a new parter: Airmodels.net

728x90 - Popular Military Aircraft

Friday 15 July 2016

Flying Vietnam Airlines 2-Class Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Welcome to my trip report on Vietnam Airlines once again! 

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

For the previous sector trip report, click here

This is VN-A866, one of the 2 Boeing 787-9s leased from AerCap which has only Economy and Business Class seats

Photo: Jjss


Initially, I didn't plan to do a trip report since I have already covered on this aircraft 3 times but because I got the 2-class configured 787-9 for this trip, I decided to do a trip report. I had a scare at the counter. Why? Because I received a different seat number at the counter and I thought my aircraft was changed. My initial seat, I chose seat 42K and what came out on my boarding pass was 16K. After some inquiries about it, the staff told me that my aircraft was changed (High hopes for the 777), nope, she told me it was an Airbus. My heart sank - in my mind, what?? A330 again ?? and she did a further check, it was Airbus A350. I wasn't too sure whether to be happy or to be sad. 

After doing some checks, VN-A887 was the only one heading towards Hanoi at that time, so I was happy to be flying on a different A350 and I had one more left to cover (VN-A888). Earlier that morning, I was checking the 787 Dreamliner deployment, VN-A866 and VN-A865 were on their way to Hanoi and looking at the time schedule, I believed 866 would to be my ride to SGN and it turned out to be in the end. 

VN-A887 on its way to Hanoi. My mind was all set to fly on this aircraft.

Mobile web check-in (the day before)

Looking at the seat map, I wondered what happens to row 10 to 15? Only after doing some checking, it was the 2-class 787 Dreamliner's configuration, I was delighted naturally. The seats at the front cabin were blocked so I picked seat 42K. 

If you booked yourself on Premium Economy on long haul flights like from either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to London and get this aircraft, you won't be too happy being bumped into Economy Class. 

So now you have the idea of how the 2-class (Economy class seat map is like) There are only 7 rows of business class seats, I have no idea how the number system works when there are row 1-15 available. (7 rows only for J class) I suppose some numbers are skipped. 

Once that was done, I was ready for my 20th joyride on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. 

On the day of departure 

I left the hotel at 11 a.m and took Uber to the airport. Taking Uber is cheaper than taxis in Vietnam but one major issue I encountered was they couldn't speak much English but most of them are competent. What I like about taking Uber is I need not explain to them where I am going, as the application would inform the driver and the fastest route would be shown to him or her. 

At the Hanoi Airport for the 4th time, the airport has become quite familiar to me especially the domestic terminal. I went to do my check-in and as mentioned earlier, my assigned seat was changed and was told that my aircraft was changed to Airbus A350. Once that was done, I went to Lucky Cafe 2 a floor above the departure hall to grab a bite. 

Entering the domestic terminal

Checking in at the counters for Ho Chi Minh City flights

The benefit of checking in online is the queue is often lesser than the normal check-in counters

Someone checked in earlier than me! So for the 3rd time in the row, I didn't get my desired aircraft, the Boeing 777. This aircraft type in Vietnam Airlines fleet seems to be avoiding me! 

This is the Boeing 777

Aircraft was changed to the A350 (below) according to the staff 

The restaurants are located at the floor above the check-in counters

My lunch 

VN-A379, an Airbus A330-200. This aircraft flew me from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi and it stayed here until then. After a long rest, it was being prepared for departure to Ho Chi Minh. 

The passageway to the other side of the airside 

Another look of VN-A379 

You can do some plane spotting over here

Most passengers here were waiting for their flights with Jetstar Pacific and Vietjetair 

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on the left turned up to my aircraft. At that time, VN-A887 had landed and parked at the other side of the airport.

The departure gate was at gate 3 and there wasn't any aircraft parking there, one thing for sure, my aircraft was parked at the remote parking lot. I saw the airline's Airbus A350-900 parking with the staircases attached to the door and I was pretty sure that was my aircraft. 

I saw this Boeing 777 being towed to one of the domestic gates. It was to fly to Ho Chi Minh City on an earlier flight. Tough luck for me.

Once the bus started moving, I was surprised it was heading in the opposite direction from VN-A887 (A350). There couldn't be another A350 at the airport and I got my answer not long after. We stopped in front of VN-A866 and I got my 787 Dreamliner ride. I was wondering whether the staff made a mistake or the airline change my flight back to the 787. Whatever it is, I was delighted to be flying on the 2-class configured 787. If I was flying on the 3-class configured 787, this trip report would not exist. 

Route: HAN-SGN

Miles: 717

More photos of my ride: VN-A866

It is nice to board the aircraft this way as you can snap some photos. Do it discreetly and quick though. 

I was wondering whether I should board the aircraft from the front or the rear, I decided to board from the rear.

Freebird Airbus A320 and Vietnam Airlines 787 Dreamliner aircraft were spotted 

Time to board!

Flying on my favourite aircraft: the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

One last shot before entering the aircraft 

Date of departure: 30th June 2016
Airline: Vietnam Airlines
Flight: VN265
Route: HAN-SGN
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Registration: VN-A866 (leased from AerCap) (My 20th 787 Dreamliner ride)
Delivered on 20th January 2016
Configuration: C28 Y283
Line number: 388
Engine: 2 X GEnx-1B
Configuration: C28 Y283
Gate: 3 
Seat: 16K
Duration: 1 hr 40 mins 
Load: 90% 
Scheduled departure: 1500
Boarding: 1426 (By bus)
Engine startup: 1501
Take off: 1510
Scheduled arrival: 1715
Actual arrival: 1645
Departure runway: 11L
Arrival runway: 25R

Greeted by a couple of grumpy looking crew, one of them gave me a surprised look and must be thinking why didn't I use the other door when my seat was closer to the front. I chose to board the rear so that I could take the cabin shots and spot any other difference between this and the 3-class configured 787s. Since only a few of us were on board the aircraft (the 2nd bus was still on its way), I went to the business class to take more photos. One of the crew thought I was self-moving up to the cabin but I assured her that I wanted to take a quick look and would move back to my seat once I was done. The rest of the crew didn't look happy, sad to say they made me feel depressed. 

Business Class cabin (Same number as the 3-class)

The Boeing Sky Interior makes the cabin look cleaner and prettier than the standard ones

The business class was quite empty when I took these photos. I wasn't sure the total number of J class passengers on this flight but one thing for sure, I certainly like to try this product.

There is a good amount of privacy when sitting at the window seat 

1-2-1 Business cabin configuration is ideal for Boeing 787 passengers

Economy Class

This was the best time to snap the photos. Taken from the rear.

Won't go too much in details as I have covered this cabin product on the 787 on my previous trip reports.

The crew by now are used to photography from the passengers 

Boeing's cabin on the 787 is my preference over Airbus' A350 cabin 

Cattle Class 787 consists of 283 Economy Class seats

The best seat row for Economy Class - row 16. I was very happy with the seat. 

Ample legroom space 

This row is suitable for a couple with babies, the bassinet can be placed here - hence the extra legroom space

The passengers on the bulkhead row window seats (both sides) get 2 windows to enjoy the view

More photos of my seat 

Unlike the other seats, the controller is at a different position (see the photo below) on the bulkhead rows. 

Foldable tray support is located at the hand rest area 

The IFE system (photo below)- don't laugh at me but I tried to take it out for photos purposes, but it just refuses to come out. I gave up after some time, so no photo of it. 

Power socket - very useful for doing work on your laptop

The legroom space and the pocket containing the usual items such as safety card, in-flight magazine, and disposal bag

In-flight experience

Boarding the aircraft via the airport bus takes longer than boarding by the aero-bridge. This is pretty random, done by the operation side of the airline who decide which flights would use the aero-bridge, which flights would not. For late departure, aero-bridge would be used to save time. So for those who fly on domestic flights, be prepared for this inconvenience. It can happen to both Low Cost and Full-Service carriers. 

The cabin crew on this flight were not friendly or bothered to smile especially when serving meals or walking past them. None of them looked interested in their job. As it is similar to my previous flights, I won't go into details about them. 

As for my seat, all I can say is how much I enjoy myself. Good legroom space, excellent window view and it was a quiet ride in front. For the flight duration, it wasn't enough for me. I could sit on this seat for flight up to 15 hours, that shouldn't be a problem. 

We departed on time and took off quite powerfully into the skies, making a turn for the direction towards Ho Chi Minh City. This is my 4th HAN-SGN flight and it seems becoming a routine to me. The airfare I paid is much cheaper than flying on SQ's (Singapore Airlines) A350 to KUL or CGK and more flying time which makes it even sweeter. Unless I get a similar deal with SQ, I will wait for a while to fly on SQ's A350. 

The flight was turbulent midway through our journey and seat belt signs were turned on. The 787 battled well through the turbulence and looking at the outside, it was clear air turbulence, nothing much we can do about it. 

The strange thing is I dimmed the window but later on it brightens to the original setting by itself. Probably the crew did something? I am not sure. 

For the rest of the flight, it was uneventful and we landed early at SGN airport. We stopped along the taxiway for about 10 minutes (I think it was because our assigned gate was not ready - an aircraft was still parked there and we had to wait for its departure before we could proceed) and taxied to our assigned aero-bridge. I won't have mind disembarking the aircraft by the old fashion way. 

In-flight meal 

No choice - sweet sauce sandwich with jelly. My seatmates skipped the meal, I should have asked him to give me his share. 

The light snacks were not too bad. 

Window shot photos (From take off to landing)

Brilliant view! I won't exchange this seat for anywhere else in Economy Class

Spotted VietjetAir's Airbus A321 taxiing past  

Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner (You can check out my trip report over here.)

Fellow Dreamliner (VN-A863) heading off to Ho Chi Minh City 

There was no push back, engines were started and we moved off once we were ready and clearance is given from the Airport Traffic Control.

Taxiing to runway 11L, but we had to hold on near runway 11R to let an incoming aircraft to land. I was wondering, why don't they use 11L for landing and 11R for taking off? 

Freebird Airbus A320 (operating for Vietjetair) was also heading to Ho Chi Minh City. 

It was a good day of flying. With the engine and wing view, I was able to snap many decent shots. 

Making a turn 

The ride was smooth at this point 

A little bit of turbulence but nothing bad 

Leaving Hanoi, but I will be back!

Some blue skies would have been nice 

Photos were taken in dimmed mode. I prefer this over the pull-down shade. At least for this, you can still view the outside world even when it's in the dimmest mode. 

We started our descend at this point and after passing through some clouds, our ride towards SGN airport was smooth 

Unfortunately, the sun was facing my direction. 

 I could see the reflection of the city on the engine cover

The landing was a good one and we exited the runway, heading for the airport terminal. The cabin crew took a while to make the mandatory welcome speech, I felt she did it half-heartedly. 

We stayed here for a while

Spotted Vietnam Airlines Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 777-200ER at the remote parking lot 

At this point, I felt sad because another great flight had come to an end, far too quickly for my liking.

There was human traffic jam over here, waited for around 10 minutes before we could proceed. 

Finally, on my way out to the taxi stand. 

My ride, just arrived from Hanoi as indicated by Flightradar24.

My rating:

Airline's website/Mobile app: 6/10
Check-in staff: 6/10
Hanoi Airport experience: 6/10
In-flight service: 5/10
Enjoyment: 10/10
In-flight meal: 6/10
Cabin interior: 9/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Seat comfort (for this row): 9/10
Aircraft condition: 10/10
Overall rating: 77/100


I may not have gotten the aircraft I want for the 3rd time, but at least it's something different, that's the consolation. Aircraft changes are part and parcel of flying especially on domestic flights, it happens more frequently due to operational reasons. So if you get yours changed, don't be disappointed, try again. Airfares on the domestic flights are inexpensive so for those thinking of trying, you should but beware of last minute aircraft changes. If you fly on business or pay for one of the most expensive fares in Economy Class, you can change your flight. Check the terms and conditions. 

Everything went well for this flight except for the in-flight service. This is my 14th flight with this carrier and so far only 1 stands out and that is this flight. It is a surprise now that Skytrax has upgraded the airline to 4-star airline. With this kind of service and the mixture of old and new products the airline is operating, I can't say that the airline deserves the upgrade. This airline should work on improving and polishing up the customer service (both airport and in-flight service) and also work on to minimize the aircraft changes, especially on international routes. Domestic routes don't matter since its a short flight but if the airline has to make the changes, an email to notify the passengers would be nice especially for those booked on premium classes. I can really feel for those who booked themselves on Premium Economy Class and end up being bumped into Economy Class, if that happens, the airline should work a solution to compensate the passengers without making them more stress and possibly making them switch to other airlines. 

Hope you enjoy this trip report and thanks for reading!
For my previous flight, click here



  1. Good Trip report again. Strange the 2-Class has 2 extra rows in Y (Rows 49 and 50). Any ideas what is there in place of seats on the 3-Class.

    1. Toilets over there. It feels like a cattle class at the rear cabin!