Flight date: 20 April 2012
Aircraft: Airbus a320-200
Flight number: VN1400
Flight time: 1hr 40mins
It was a quick check-in at the Vietnam Airlines counter at the sometimes chaotic Ho Chi Minh City domestic terminal, not only because of no others in the Business Class line, but also as I was travelling in a group of seven people requiring only one check-in transaction for all, the only Business Class passengers on this flight. It was an easy boarding process as we boarded at our leisure through the Business Class line at 0940, where we were greeted in English by a senior flight attendant and the flights captain.
The Airbus a320-200 aircraft, 1 of 14 that Vietnam Airlines operate, looked slightly worn (or well travelled) but spotlessly clean in the forward Business Class cabin in a 2-2 configuration of cradle style seats. I had been assigned aisle seat 2D, but after asking the flight attendant (the polite and correct thing to do) I moved to the window seat 2F for a clear days view of our departure over the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City.
A pre-departure drink of an orange or apple juice was offered as was a cool refreshing towellette, although the flight attendant happen to miss me. There was no private screen AVOD (Audio Visual On Demand) or main screen entertainment on this short haul aircraft but local newspapers in both Vietnamese and English were offered or available on request. A light refreshment/snack (cold) was served consisting of three pieces sliced Vietnamese/French baguette with ham ,cheese and lettuce on one, smoked white fish with lettuce and dill ion another and salmon and lettuce on the third with slices of tropical fruit, pawpaw, pineapple and watermelon, on the side.After service, the cabin was offered tea, coffee or other drink which I opted for a cola. The trays were promptly cleared as each Business Class passenger finished their meal and a hot towel service was then offered by the cabins friendly flight attendant.
We were flying to Dong Hoi, capital of Quang Binh Provence, the arrival point into Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and the home of the largest underground caves in the world. With a scheduled flying time of 1hr and 40mins, it was a relatively smooth flight along the coast of Vietnam with no turbulence and we landed in the city of Dong Hoi early at 1025. Being Business Class passengers, we disembarked the aircraft first and made our way across the tarmac (yes again with camera at the ready) into the small terminal to be met by our guide, who later introduced us to the absolutely stunning ‘Paradise Caves’.
I flew courtesy of Vietnam Airlines.