While Hanoi is well connected to Singapore via its extensive airways network, only a few airlines actually fly directly from Singapore to Hanoi. These airlines are Singapore Airlines, Silkair, Vietnam Airlines and budget carrier Tigerair. The other airlines (such as Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways) make stopovers at other cities, effectively ballooning the total travelling time to get to Hanoi. Since the flight time from Singapore to Hanoi is only 3.5hrs, it makes any stopovers largely undesirable.
Fantastic Travel Deal from Vietnam Airlines
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Hanoi was one of those places that we had wanted to visit, mainly because of the famous Halong Bay region. Since April 2013, we had been looking for travel deals for a vacation over the long weekend stretching over the National Day and Hari Raya festivals (8-11 August). It seemed that many more had confirmed their plans earlier than us, as air ticket prices were relatively expensive for most of our other shortlisted destinations.
It was with surprise that we found a good travel deal at Vietnam Airlines (a full service airline) for a return flight from Singapore to Hanoi for SGD$237.80, inclusive of taxes and surcharges. It also included 20kg baggage allowance and meals on board. This is even lower than the fare quoted by some budget airlines which does not even include meals and baggage allowance!
Vietnam Airlines operates 2 flights per day from Singapore to Hanoi. The earlier flight (VN662) which departs from Singapore at 1.05pm is the one that you should be looking out for, as you will reach Hanoi by 3:30pm, just in time for hotel check ins and some city sightseeing before a good dinner. Note that Hanoi is 1 hr behind Singapore time (GMT +7).
Smooth Check In
We arrived at Vietnam Airlines’ check in counter at about 10:30am (relatively early for our flight at 1:05pm), and there was hardly any queues. Check in was relatively smooth and hassle free.
Vietnam Airlines uses a Airbus A321 aircraft similar to Silkair. There were no individual in-flight entertainment system, only a shared overhead monitor. Earphones were handed out to every passenger and if you do not like the movie that you shown overhead, you could choose to enjoy a selection of music instead.
Or enjoy the inflight magazines.
Reasonable Seat Leg Space
Seats were pretty ok for a full service carrier, with reasonable leg space.
Prior to the flight, Vietnam Airlines will keep sending you emails to entice you to upgrade to a business class seat for around SGD$40 per person one way through its partner, OptionTown. So if you are keen, here’s how the business class seats look like. It comes with a little more leg space and a more spacious arm rest.
Unlike many other full service airlines, Vietnam Airlines does not give us a menu for meals on board. Instead, the in-flight attendant would simply ask you for your choice of either a beef set or a fish set. Food was really pretty mediocre, in our opinion.
Lack of In-Flight Service
Ok, I can be quite picky about service, because I always feel that it reflects the values of an organization and how happy their employees are. I am not a difficult customer, but rather, I prefer to observe how service staff works. And it never fails to amaze me how simple gestures like a smile or appropriate body language can change things so much. Unfortunately, the flight attendants at Vietnam Airlines do look un-trained in the subtle art of service. Do not be mistaken, we’ve not experienced any unhappiness during our flight, but rather, we felt a little neglected in that the attendants do not maintain eye contact with any passengers and seem to be in a world of their own. It therefore becomes difficult when we try to catch their attention.
Join us next as we check in our Hanoi Hotel.