Vietnam Airlines 787-9 Business Class Review — Seoul to Hanoi [Detailed]

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Airline: Vietnam Airlines (VN)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Flight #: VN 415
Route: Seoul-Incheon (ICN) > Hanoi (HAN)
Date: April 21, 2019
Duration: 4 hr 25 min
Cabin & Layout: Vietnam Airlines reverse herringbone business class, 28-seat capacity across 7 rows, 1-2-1
Seats: 3A
Miles Used: None. Paid $576.10 for ICN – HAN and HAN – PVG in Vietnam Airlines 787-9 and A350 business class, respectively
Taxes & Fees Paid: $236.20
Typical Retail Cost: N/A
Typical Economy Cost: ~$338 USD

Booking Vietnam Airlines Business Class

I had previously booked a bonkers mistake fare that allowed me to secure a round-trip first class flight on Cathay Pacific for ~$1,200. My challenge now was to figure out the positioning flights in order to take advantage of this fare. Since the mistake fare was originating in Hanoi, I had to figure out how I was going to get from South Korea to Vietnam.

Long story short, I found a stellar business class fare on 2 distinct products from Vietnam Airlines. I ended up paying around ~$576 to get from Seoul to Hanoi in April and Hanoi to Shanghai in September (as a part of my second trip). Overall, this netted me ~8 hours in lie-flat business class.

The best part? I would be able to sample Vietnam Airlines’ 2 best business class products: the 787-9 and A350-900. This review covers the first segment, which lasted around 4.5 hours.

Booking Vietnam Airlines business class is very easy in the sense that award availability is excellent. For a regional flight and an airline that typically runs under the radar, this isn’t terribly surprising. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find many sweet spots on SkyTeam carriers on this particular flight.

You could use 45,500 Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles, 45,000 Delta SkyMiles, or 112,000 AeroMexico Premier Points. If you’ve got lots of Korean Air miles, you can also redeem a round-trip flight for 75,000 Korean Air miles. Generally, Delta SkyMiles can represent a decent use of these miles, though the cash prices are often cheap enough to pay outright for these business class tickets.

Checking In

First, I arrived at Seoul-Incheon’s Terminal 1, where we headed to the Vietnam Airlines business class check-in area.

Vietnam Airlines business class check in signage
Vietnam Airlines business class check-in signage.

After a speedy check-in process, our baggage was checked and our boarding passes were printed. As a Sky Priority member traveling in business class, we also had access to priority security screening, which was a nice touch.

 Vietnam Airlines business class boarding pass
Vietnam Airlines business class boarding pass

Overall, the check-in and security process took around 15 minutes. When we cleared security, we made our way toward the Korean Air lounge located at Concourse A.

KAL Lounge at Seoul-Incheon Airport’s Concourse A

As is the case with almost all Korean Air lounges, this lounge is a Priority Pass lounge as well.

Korean Air Business Class Lounge
Korean Air business class lounge.
Korean Air Business Class Lounge Front Desk
Korean Air business class lounge front desk.

As soon as we scanned our boarding passes and entered the lounge, we saw this directory on the wall, which was actually very helpful in locating the various facilities.

Korean Air business class lounge directory
Korean Air business class lounge directory.

There was a ton of seating available; this lounge has a large capacity of seats in varied types.

Korean Air business class lounge seating 5
Korean Air business class lounge table seating.
Korean Air Lounge Concourse A at Seoul Incheon Airport seating
Korean Air lounge seating in Concourse A at Seoul Incheon Airport.

In addition to the square armchairs that were very comfortable and soft, there were bar stools and chairs available in multiple rooms.

Korean Air business class lounge bar chairs
Korean Air business class lounge bar chairs.

We ended up settling in the TV room, which was nestled in the back corner of the lounge (close to the showers and restrooms).

Korean Air Business Class Lounge Seating 1
Korean Air business class lounge television room.

A smoking lounge with a TV is available for those who need it.

Korean Air business class lounge smoking lounge 2
Korean Air business class lounge smoking lounge.

There was also a large room available for luggage and coat storage.

Korean Air Business Class Lounge Luggage Storage 2
Korean Air business class lounge luggage storage.

There weren’t many airport flight monitors in the lounge, but I did manage to find one of them.

Korean Air business class lounge flight screen
Korean Air business class lounge flight screen.

As soon as we were able to claim a spot to sit down, I headed over to the food stations. The first things I saw were some blueberry crumble muffins and black sesame bread.

Korean Air business class cold food
Korean Air business class muffins and bread.

Beers are available on tap: our 2 choices were Budweiser and the Korean favorite Max Hite.

Korean Air business class lounge beer on tap
Korean Air business class lounge beer on tap.

I also saw a small selection of wines, champagne, and liquor. Pictured below is Valdivieso Brut Rose and Copperstone Creek Chardonnay, followed by Concha y Toro Reservado Cabernet Sauvignon.

Korean Air business class wine selection
Korean Air business class wine selection.
Korean Air business class lounge red wine
Korean Air business class lounge red wine.

If you wanted some whiskey, you could choose between Jack Daniel’s or Ballantine’s 17.

Korean Air business class liquor selection
Korean Air business class liquor selection.

There were also some mixed nuts and pretzels for your typical bar snacks.

Korean Air business class nuts
Korean Air business class snacks.

The salad bar consisted of cherry tomatoes and assorted greens.

Korean Air business class lounge salad bar
Korean Air business class lounge salad bar.

The main refrigerator was nearly empty due to the fact that the drinks were located separately. You could find milk, water, and a couple of chilled beer glasses in there.

Korean Air business class lounge refrigerator
Korean Air business class lounge refrigerator.

There were 3 types of tea bags and a coffee station nearby.

Korean Air business class lounge tea selection
Korean Air business class lounge tea selection.

If you wanted soft drinks, you could use this fountain machine to pour Sprite, Coca-Cola, and Coca-Cola Zero.

Korean Air business class lounge soft drink machine
Korean Air business class lounge soft drink machine.

I moved onto the main food area, which started with corn soup. Despite not looking very appetizing, it was actually quite tasty.

Korean Air business class lounge soup
Korean Air business class lounge soup.

The juice bar contained dispensers for orange juice, apple juice, and tomato juice.

Korean Air business class lounge juices
Korean Air business class lounge juices.

Tuna egg sandwiches and fusilli pasta salad were on display at another food section.

Korean Air business class lounge finger sandwiches
Korean Air business class lounge finger sandwiches.

The best part of this lounge was the espresso machine, which can dispense cafe creme, americano, cappuccino, cafe lattes, and espresso.

Korean Air business class espresso machine
Korean Air business class espresso machine.
Korean Air business class lounge espresso machine 2
Korean Air business class lounge espresso machine 2.

Crackers, cheese, and cranberry almond tea cake were next to the espresso machine.

Korean Air business class lounge cheese selection
Korean Air business class lounge cheese selection.

Instant ramen is a signature component of Korean lounges, and it made an appearance at this lounge too. You could pick between Shin Ramen or Tempura Udong.

Korean Air business class instant ramen selection
Korean Air business class instant ramen selection.

I moved on to the hot foods, which first featured sweet and sour pork alongside some beef and mushrooms.

Korean Air business class lounge hot food 2
Korean Air business class lounge hot food.

Next up was fried shrimp balls with sweet chili, which tasted great.

Korean Air business class lounge fried shrimp balls close-up
Korean Air business class lounge fried shrimp balls.

The food selection concluded with pork and mushroom fried rice; it was good too.

Korean Air business class lounge fried rice 2
Korean Air business class lounge fried rice.

The restroom facilities were quite large, though there were only 2 shower suites.

Korean Air business class lounge restrooms
Korean Air business class lounge restrooms.
Korean Air business class lounge showers
Korean Air business class lounge showers.

The locking system for the shower stalls was so sophisticated and unique that I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of it.

Korean Air business class lounge locking mechanism
Korean Air business class lounge locking mechanism.

The shower lounges were quite spacious, and the tile work was intricate and sleek.

Korean Air business class lounge shower
Korean Air business class lounge shower.

Shower gel and shampoo were provided in large dispensers located inside the shower.

Korean Air business class lounge shower toiletries
Korean Air business class lounge shower toiletries.
Korean Air business class lounge shower sink
Korean Air business class lounge shower sink.

Other amenities were provided, including shower caps, combs, soap, and toothbrush kits.

Korean Air business class lounge shower amenities 2
Korean Air business class lounge shower amenities – close up.
Korean Air business class lounge shower amenities 2
Korean Air business class lounge shower amenities.

I actually took advantage of the shower suites, which ended up being a great decision.

As we were leaving the lounge close to our departure time, I noticed some personal beauty stations, which I was intrigued by.

Korean Air business class lounge personal grooming station
Korean Air business class lounge personal grooming station.

Also, if you didn’t bring your charging cords or power bank, you could take advantage of these mobile phone charging stations.

Korean Air business class lounge mobile phone charging stations
Korean Air business class lounge mobile phone charging stations.

I took a couple more pictures of the plane-watching windows and magazine selection before heading to the gate for our flight.

Korean Air business class lounge bird watching
Korean Air business class lounge bird watching.
Korean Air business class literature selection
Korean Air business class literature selection.
Korean Air business class literature selection 2
Korean Air business class literature shelf.

Flight

Boarding was relatively efficient; we were the first to board the plane. I took pictures of the 787-9 aircraft, jetbridge, and newspaper stand.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9
Vietnam Airlines 787-9.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 Walk to Jetbridge
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 walk to jetbridge.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 Newspapers Pre-Flight
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 preflight newspapers.

Seat

Since we were the first to board, I got the opportunity to take pictures of the empty business class cabin, which was awesome.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class rear cabin view
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class rear cabin view.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class front cabin view
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class front cabin view.

The cabin finishes were olive green, which was somewhat disappointing considering Vietnam Airlines uses a beautiful sky blue and gold coloring scheme for their exterior livery.

These seats are reverse herringbone in a 1-2-1 configuration; they go fully lie-flat and feature direct aisle access. Likely, these are Zodiac Cirrus variants of reverse herringbone seats.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat.

With the armrests down, the seat measures 21.5″ wide, which is quite spacious. As far as seat pitch and bed length, you can expect 42″ in pitch and 78″-79″ of bed length when fully lie-flat.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class armrest
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class armrest.

The storage compartment next to the main armrest was quite deep. I was able to fold up my newspaper once and tuck it in there for the duration of the flight.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class armrest storage
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class armrest storage.

And when fully deployed, the armrest itself is quite high.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class armrest up
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class armrest up.

There was also a storage compartment dedicated to water bottles, which is quite useful. Next to it was a 110v power socket.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class outlet and storage compartment
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class outlet and storage compartment.

The literature compartment was located right next to the water bottle storage space.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class literature storage
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class literature storage.

To the left of the seat were the inflight remote, USB outlet, headphone jack, and seat controls.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat controls
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat controls.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class in-flight remote
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class inflight remote

With the seat controls, you can adjust the lumbar support.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat controls
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat controls.

Adjacent to the entertainment controls was a reading light.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat light
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat light.

A coat hanger was located next to the inflight monitor.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class coat hanger
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class coat hanger.

I opened another storage compartment to my left and found a pair of headphones already there.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class headphone storage
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class headphone storage.

We were provided with a light pillow and blanket, along with slippers and an amenity kit (which we’ll discuss in the next section).

The footwell was quite generous, easily capable of fitting my shoes.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class footwell
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class footwell.

Lastly, the fold-out tray table was relatively sturdy.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class tray table
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class tray table.

The inflight monitor was quite crisp, measuring up at 16″.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class in flight monitor 2
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class inflight monitor.

I settled into my seat, snapped a few pictures of the windows, and relaxed for takeoff.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class windows
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class windows.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class window view
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class window view.

I also noticed that Vietnam Airlines installed individual air nozzles in business class, which is an awesome addition to an already excellent hard product. This allows passengers to control their own air conditioning.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class individual air nozzles
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class individual air nozzles.

One unique thing I also noticed was that the back half of the middle seats didn’t contain overhead storage bins, while the front half did. This was new to me, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class overhead space
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class overhead space.

There was a reasonable level of privacy at your seat, as you couldn’t see much when sitting upright.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat perspective
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat perspective.

Putting the 78″-79″ of bed length to the test, I fit easily.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class canoe test
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class canoe test.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class view of footwell
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class view of footwell.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class rear cabin view with lights dimmed
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class rear cabin view with lights dimmed.

Bottom Line: Overall, Vietnam Airlines 787-9 has an excellent hard product. Reverse herringbone lie-flat seats with individual air nozzles are about as good as it gets in business class. 

Amenities

Since this flight was slightly longer than 4 hours, I didn’t have a great expectation of amenities, but I was pleasantly surprised. As we briefly mentioned earlier, sitting on the footwell was a light pillow and blanket, alongside slippers and an amenity kit.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat amenities
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class seat amenities.

The slippers were quite plush.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class slippers
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class slippers.

I found the pillow and blanket sufficient for a medium-haul flight, though not for a long-haul flight.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class light pillow
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class light pillow.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class light blanket
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class light blanket.

I unwrapped the headphones that were waiting at my seat in the storage compartment, and found them pretty mediocre – certainly not noise-cancelling headphones!

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class headphones
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class headphones.

The business class amenity kit is branded by Swiss manufacturer Charriol.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class amenity kit 1
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class amenity kit.

The kit contained a comb, body lotion, lip balm, toothbrush kit, earplugs, socks, and eye mask. This is an excellent business class amenity kit for a medium-haul flight.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class amenity kit contents 2
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class amenity kit contents.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 Business Class Spread
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class spread.

As soon as the seatbelt sign was switched off, I wandered to the business class lavatory, where I found assorted amenities branded by GERnétic.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lavatory amenities
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lavatory amenities.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lavatory amenities close-up
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lavatory amenities close-up.

The lavatory smelled fresh and fragrant, thanks to some flowers and a scent bag hanging on the door.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lavatory flowers
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lavatory flowers.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lavatories scent bag
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lavatories scent bag.

Food and Beverage

For a pre-departure beverage, I was served champagne. On offer was Heidsieck & Co’s Monopole Blue Top Brut, which retails for $40 per bottle.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class pre-departure champagne
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class pre-departure champagne.

The business class menus were distributed to all passengers, and I flipped through the different pages and sections.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class menu cover page.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class menu title page.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class liquor, champagne, and non-alcoholic beverage menu.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class main course menu in Vietnamese
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class main course menu in Vietnamese.

Since this was an evening flight, we would be served dinner. Travelers have the option to pick between Korean, Asian, and Western style courses. I opted for the Western style.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class main course menu in English.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class drink menu cover page
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class drink menu cover page.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class champagne menu.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class red and white wine menu
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class red and white wine menu.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class specialty drink menu
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class specialty drink menu.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class miscellaneous cocktail and drink menu.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class coffee and tea menu.

The meal service began shortly after takeoff, though the distribution of the meal service menus slowed it down a bit.

We were first served the amuse bouche, which consisted of some savory, cheesy, and herb-based bites.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class amuse bouche
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class amuse bouche.

The appetizer was an eggplant involtini with tomato sauce. It came with a vegetable salad and zucchini cream soup.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class appetizer
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class appetizer.

I wasn’t terribly impressed by the eggplant involtini, but the zucchini cream soup was rich and delicate.

Next, I chose the beef steak with chateau potatoes in a mushroom sauce. The beef was cooked perfectly, the chateau potatoes were dense and flavorful, and the mushroom sauce was smooth, savory, and delicious.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class main course
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class main course.

I was very pleased with the main course, and the flight attendant brought out a basket of sliced fruit. As I was quite full at this point, I chose a slice of pineapple, Korean pear, and a couple of grapes.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class fruits
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class fruits.

As if this wasn’t enough, she also brought out a tray of various desserts, including chocolate ice cream, cakes, and tarts.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class desserts
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class desserts.

I relaxed in my seat and sipped on a cup of tea. Unfortunately, my first choice of the jasmine green tea wasn’t available on this flight — I settled for lotus tea, which was also floral and very warm.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lotus tea
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class lotus tea.

Bottom Line: Overall, the steak was unforgettable, and the core of this food and beverage program is excellent. Though there were a couple of misses on this meal service, Vietnam Airlines impressed me greatly with their food and beverage offerings. 

Entertainment & Service

Vietnam Airlines’ entertainment program is called Lotustar, which consists of many Hollywood releases, Vietnamese cinema, and international programs.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class in-flight monitor
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class inflight monitor.
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class in-flight entertainment choices 1
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class inflight entertainment example program choices .

Vietnam Airlines doesn’t currently offer Wi-Fi on the 787-9, which is unfortunate. Though it wasn’t a big deal on this relatively short flight, I can imagine it being a problem on a premium business route, such as between London and Hanoi.

I also turned on the air show for a while.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class flight map
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class flight map.

Overall, though our flight attendants were professional and courteous, they didn’t seem particularly friendly or happy to be there.

There were 4 business class flight attendants — a relatively high ratio. But despite having lots of staff, I noticed some customer service blips like forgetting to bring out tea and bringing main courses later than expected. Still, the service was pleasant and the staff was accommodating.

I can say that while the flight attendants got the job done, the service wasn’t particularly impressive like you’d see on Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, or EVA Air.

Final Thoughts

My first experience in Vietnam Airlines business class was good. The food was delicious, the hard product was top-tier, and the amenity kit was unexpectedly impressive.

However, the flight attendants were relatively aloof, the inflight entertainment was somewhat lacking in variety, and there was no Wi-Fi offered.

I think that for the value I received booking an affordable cash fare, I would have done everything the same. Vietnam Airlines has a lot to offer, and this is a business class product that often undeservedly flies under the radar.


FAQ

Does Vietnam Airlines have inflight entertainment?

Yes! In business class long-haul flights, you’ll not only enjoy a fully lie-flat seat and delicious food, but you’ll also have a diverse in-flight entertainment selection to choose from.

What is the best way to fly on Vietnam Airlines business class?

Currently, Vietnam Airlines doesn’t fly between the United States and Vietnam nonstop. You’ll need to take a connecting flight. Luckily, the SkyTeam airline has many airline partners that do offer direct flights to America, such as China Airlines or Korean Air.

You can spend as little as 85,000 Delta SkyMiles or 93,000 Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles one-way.

Are there direct flights from USA to Vietnam?

Sadly, the answer is currently no. This might change in the near future, however, as the FAA has given Vietnam the highest safety certification, which will allow them to offer nonstop flights to the U.S.

Do I need a visa to go to Vietnam from the US?

Yes, you do. The good news is that you can actually apply for an E-Visa completely online! Click the link here to apply.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions in a six-figure job, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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