Thursday, 22 December 2016

Flying Vanilla Air On A 5th Freedom Route (Part 2: SGN-TPE)

Welcome to my return trip report on Vanilla Air! 


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


For my part 1, click here


Introduction 

Booking myself with the airline on the return flight allows me to spend the evening with my an important person so looking at the schedule of this flight, I decided to go ahead with it. I was hoping the flight back to Taipei to be slightly emptier than the previous flight. Whole row to myself to sleep would be great! Once that's that, it was time to enjoy the trip with that special person. I was to stay around 2 and a half weeks and gosh, time went past so quickly! The day of departure itself was slightly subdued but I would be back at the end of the year. 

Food photos @ Ho Chi Minh City 

Very nice Japanese food at Manmuru Japanese restaurant (a few outlets in the city)


Spaghetti Bolognese at I.D Cafe 


Delicious meal with my partner at Ciao Cafe 


My favourite: Custard with sweet sauce over it 


Japanese ramen noodles at Sushi Teh - overall the food quality was disappointing


Look at this portion - I was astonished when I saw this! Never again. 


My partner enjoyed her meal at Eleven Cafe 


We were given a choice of Yoghurt or cake, she chose the former while I chose the latter.



Delicious duck with intestines noodle soup - absolutely delicious! Thanks to my girl for the birthday treat!


Passion fruit Drink 


My favourite Vietnamese Beef Combination Soup 


Combines well with the local beer 


I.D Cafe's Pork Rice - love this! 


On the day of departure (Midnight) 

After bidding farewell to my girl, I went to the hotel to finish packing before checking out. The hotel staff was surprised to see me leaving at that time. Once the check out was done, I called Uber which arrived on time. One thing about using Uber in Vietnam is that most of the drivers don't speak English so communicating with them may be an issue especially when they call you to confirm the pick up point. On the bright side, its cheaper to use Uber than local taxi and more comfortable too with a range of car models you get depending on luck. Avoid taking the private taxi at the airport, its double the price of Uber fare. 

Checking in was a mess, a disappointing start to my journey. Queues were long, with so many families surrounded with lots of luggages and it took around 45 minutes to finally reach my turn. All I wanted was to check in quickly and settle down at the gate to rest, as I was feeling tired at that point. The wait felt like eternity and once I was done, I was relieved to be on my way. 


Checking the aircraft that was flying me to Taipei - JA07VA, a new entry to my flight logbook

On her way to Ho Chi Minh City 



The first part of the journey: Tokyo Narita to Taipei Taoyuan


Just took off from Tokyo Narita 


My ride: JA07VA



Flight route: SGN-TPE

Miles: 1,370


Waiting to board the aircraft 


Time to board! 



Cabin interior 

Welcome on board Vanilla Air!



Toilet break time, so I took a few shots of the cabin 


You know you are on board Vanilla Air's aircraft 


Photo taken from my seat 


The carpet has the airline's logo on it



Vanilla Air crew helping the passengers to settle in 


My seat plus the window and Air China's Boeing 737-700 was beside my aircraft 


The bulkhead row offers good legroom space 




In-flight experience 

Boarding the aircraft and settled down at my window seat. 2 elderly couple sat at the same row and their daughter was at the other row (aisle seat). Later it turned out the seats beside her was vacant and so her parents moved over and I had the whole row to myself. Sadly, one male passenger came and sat at the aisle seat about 1/4 of the flight left. Not too bad at least I had more legroom space than I thought for this flight sector. It was a nice flight. 

Cabin service on this flight was nothing special, perhaps its the timing that affected most of us. Still they were professional and friendly and I appreciate their effort to coming around to check everyone is doing good. 

Flight time was shorter and we landed at Taipei Taoyuan early. Weather on route was mostly smooth, just some small bumps along the way. Taipei was cloudy at that time and flying through the clouds was bumpy as always, but we landed smoothly at Taipei Taoyuan Airport. I was to stay for a day before heading back the following day with EVA Air. 

Window shot photos 

Landed at Taipei Taoyuan and we parked next to Far Eastern Air Transport's MD-80 aircraft!



On approach to Taipei Taoyuan Airport 


Light was breaking out at this moment 


Lovely weather on route 


Back in Taipei 




My rating: 

Website: 7/10
Check-in staff: 5/10
Ho Chi Minh Airport Experience: 5/10 
In-flight service: 6/10
Seat comfort: 6/10
Cabin interior: 8/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Punctuality: 10/10
Enjoyment: 7/10
Aircraft condition: 10/10
Overall rating: 74/100

Conclusion

A pleasant experience with this airline on both flights with good punctuality for both flights. The low airfare attracts the budget conscious travellers and its a no wonder both flights' load factor were high. Whether this route is profitable for the airline, no idea yet but one thing for sure is this airline is worth flying if you don't mind the timing. Kind of strange seeing Vanilla Air in Ho Chi Minh City but we need more Low Cost Carriers doing such routes (5th freedom) for more cheap airfares and options. Do watch out for the Low Cost Airline's Alliance - Value Alliance. What's these alliance about? This alliance consists of a group of airlines joining forces to code share on each other's selected flights and form a strategy to compete with its rivals. It should be working similarly to the likes of OneWorld, Skyteam and Star Alliance. More details coming up shortly. 

This airline gets my recommendation on both international and domestic routes. This is the airline's network and for more information of the airline, you can check it out at the airline's website over here.


December 2016 update


Hope you enjoy this trip report!

For my part 1, click here
For my Japanese domestic flight experience with this airline, click here

Cheers,
Charles 

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