Vietnam Airlines A321 Business Class Review – Hanoi to Hong Kong [Detailed]

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Airline: Vietnam Airlines (VN)
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Flight #: VN 592
Route: Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
Date: April 22, 2019
Duration: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Cabin and Layout: Vietnam Airlines business class, 16-seat capacity across 4 rows, 2-2 configuration
Seat: 3C
Miles Used: None, booked Cathay Pacific mistake fare (HAN-HKG-SFO) with round-trip first class for $1,208.14
Taxes and Fees Paid: $135.74 in taxes and fees, and $183.40 in fuel surcharges
Typical Retail Cost: approximately $16,990
Typical Economy Cost: approximately $1,571 USD

Booking Vietnam Airlines Business Class

Many of you may know that on January 1, 2019, Cathay Pacific published a mistake fare for business and first class tickets flying from Vietnam to the United States. Round-trip tickets, which have layovers at Cathay Pacific’s home base in Hong Kong, sold for $700 and $1,000-$1,200 in business and first class, respectively.

This was a deal that was simply too good to pass up, and I booked a couple of tickets immediately after catching wind of this. The mistake fare was honored, and we were going to fly from Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in Hanoi to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and then onwards to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

The Hanoi to Hong Kong segment was a codeshare ticket aboard Vietnam Airlines’ A321 in business class. All in all, the 2-hour flight in booking class J would be around 526 miles in distance. This isn’t a hugely significant flight in terms of mileage accrual, but I went ahead and redeemed my flight with Delta SkyMiles, which earns 100% redeemable miles.

I could’ve earned more miles by crediting flights to Korean Air at 135% for instance, but I won’t be transferring any miles to Korean Air SKYPASS anytime soon, so I opted not to.

Plus, Delta Air Lines SkyMiles never expire, and I anticipate using their program sometime in the future, which is another factor that drove my decision to credit my short-haul business class flight on Vietnam Airlines to Delta SkyMiles. All in all, I earned 526 Delta SkyMiles, which is not much.

If you wanted to book this flight with points, you could pay either 45,000 Flying Blue miles each way or 45,000 Delta SkyMiles. Neither of these are good deals at all, seeing as how cash flights are typically quite cheap.

For a short regional flight of ~2 hours it is best to book using cash, although you could use 45,000 Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles or Delta SkyMiles one-way.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge at Noi Bai International Airport

We arrived pretty late the previous night, so we didn’t feel too strongly about going to the airport early in the morning. We spent the early bits of the morning hanging out at a coffee shop and enjoying the Hanoi hustle.

We arrived at the airport around 1 hour before departure and headed to the Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge. There was a bit of signage, which was helpful in locating the lounge.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi.

In the lounge, there was plenty of seating available. The Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge is an open-air lounge, which is a welcome change. There are lots of tables, chairs, lounge chairs, and even massage chairs!

All in all, I counted 5 lounge chairs suitable for sleeping and 3 massage chairs. The massage chairs were tremendous, and I spent around 20 minutes relaxing and de-stressing in one of them.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi seating
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi seating.
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi seating 3
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi seating 3.
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi seating 2
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi seating 2.
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi lounge chairs
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi lounge chairs.
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi lounge chairs 2
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi lounge chairs 2.
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi massage chairs
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi massage chairs.

There was an area for storing luggage.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi luggage storage
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi luggage storage.

Additionally, a smoking lounge was located near the entrance. This particular smoking lounge was significantly larger than most other smoking rooms.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi smoking lounge
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi smoking lounge.

Also, a battery charging station and snack bar with stools was available. I’m not sure who doesn’t bring charging cords, but it’s quite handy if you’ve lost your cords somewhere in the airport or on your travels.

Hot Tip: Since other lounges may not offer a charging station, check out this guide on the best portable power banks and chargers so you don’t have worry about your phone dying mid-travel.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi charging and snack station
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi charging and snack station.

Additionally, a business center was available for use. There were 6 work stations, complete with privacy dividers, common office supplies, a computer mouse, and a desktop computer at each station.

 Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Business Center Computer Stations
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Business Center Computer Stations
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Business Center Computer
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Business Center Computer

I spent around 20 minutes plane watching, which was made easy by the huge floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding the lounge.

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner View from Lotus Lounge Hanoi
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner View from Lotus Lounge Hanoi
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner

If you follow aviation news, you probably heard of Bamboo Airways, which is a start-up, low-cost airline based in Vietnam. I was able to catch a glimpse of their very first A321neo, which was a very cool experience.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Bamboo Airways plane spotting
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Bamboo Airways A321neo

I wandered over to the showers, and I found that they employ a unique set up for their showers. Instead of offering shower suites, they offer shower stalls. There were two stalls on the men’s side, located nearby a few waiting chairs.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Shower Stalls
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Shower Stalls
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Individual Shower Stall
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Individual Shower Stall
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi shower waiting area
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi shower waiting area.

Toiletries are provided, including combs, cotton swabs, razors, and toothbrush sets.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi individually packaged shower toiletries
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi individually packaged shower toiletries.

The other shower amenities and necessities such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, and body towels were provided in an individually packaged basket. It’s a bit of a grab-and-go setup, and it’s a unique departure from the norm.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi towels and amenities
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi towels and amenities.

I meandered my way to the food and beverage section, and the first things that caught my eye were the large refrigerators.

I found some yogurt, electrolyte water, local beers, and even white fungus bird’s nest drinks! As a huge fan of bird’s nest, you can bet that I took several cans of those.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Beer, Birds Nest, Yogurt, Energy Drinks
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Beer, Birds Nest, Yogurt, Energy Drinks

There were also pitchers of milk and juice above various brands of bottled water.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi refrigerated juices, bottled water, energy drinks, beer
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi refrigerated juices, bottled water, energy drinks, beer

The cold drinks concluded with typical soft drinks, green tea, and more water.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Bottled Water, Soft Drinks, and Green Tea
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Bottled Water, Soft Drinks, and Green Tea

Vietnam is famous for its coffee, and there was quite a large station dedicated to tea and coffee in this lounge. This also included a Keurig-like pod coffee brewer.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi hot drinks station
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi hot drinks station.

An espresso machine was located to the right of the tea and coffee station, which begs the question: why would you use the pod coffee brewer when you have a full-blown espresso machine? Nevertheless, variety is a strength, I suppose.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi espresso machine
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi espresso machine.

The liquor selection was somewhat varied, though there wasn’t any special display case or bar. You could enjoy Chivas Regal and Absolut, among others.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi alcohol selection
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi alcohol selection.

The overall food selection was well varied, though nothing stood out as particularly tasty.

First, there was a pot of corn cream soup.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi soup
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi soup.

Then, I saw a tray of sausages, except the left and right containers were completely empty. So it ended up being a bunch of interesting looking sausages. Yeah, hard pass.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi sausage
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi sausage.

Next, I found the porridge station, which was complete with sides such as minced pork meat, pickled radish, spices, and even sliced pork rolls (chả lụa) and shredded chicken (gà). 

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi porridge
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi porridge.
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi porridge condiments
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi porridge condiments.
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi shredded, boiled chicken
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi shredded, boiled chicken.

Behind the porridge station was the chicken pho station. There was a large pot of broth alongside some pre-portioned bowls of vermicelli. You could season and spice your soup accordingly with chilis, scallions, and limes.

The pho was decent tasting, though I couldn’t help but think that there was MSG in it.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi pho station
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi pho station.

The bread selection consisted mostly of sliced white bread.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi bread selection
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi bread selection.

Hard boiled eggs, fermented fish sauce, and chili paste were within arm’s reach of each other.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi boiled eggs
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi boiled eggs.

Sliced cured meats were placed next to the sliced Vietnamese pork sausages.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Bread and Cold Cuts
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Bread and Cold Cuts
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Cold Cuts
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Cold Cuts

Additionally, there was a bánh cuốn station. Bánh cuốn is a Vietnamese dish consisting of steamed rice noodle rolls filled with meats and spices.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi banh cuon
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi bánh cuốn.

There was a good amount of Vietnamese dishes in the lounge. Of all the food types in the lounge, these dishes tasted the best.

The fruit selection consisted of sliced watermelon, halved passion fruits, pineapple, and mango. Also, there was a tub of chili salt, which you could use to season your fruit if desired. The mangos were extraordinarily sweet and were the highlight of the lounge.

Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi sliced watermelon
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi sliced watermelon.
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi passionfruit
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi passion fruits.
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Sliced Mango and Pineapple
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge Hanoi Sliced Mango and Pineapple

Flight

I’ve found that boarding times in Vietnam are extremely generous. For a short-haul flight on a smaller aircraft such as the A321, boarding was scheduled to begin 50 minutes before departure, which I think is overkill. Nevertheless, boarding was organized, and we made our way onto the aircraft.

Seat

The business class cabin consists of 16 seats across 4 rows in a 2-2 configuration.

Vietnam Airlines A321 Seat Map
Vietnam Airlines A321 seat map. Image Credit: Seatguru.com

The A321 is a narrow-body aircraft. Each of the 16 seats is 21 inches wide and 45 inches in pitch. The seats themselves are reasonably comfortable, though the headrest was quite hard.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class seat 2
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class seat 2.
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class seat
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class seat.

There are several buttons that operate the seat controls.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class seat functions
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class seat functions.

When the leg rest and footrest is deployed, the bird’s eye view looks like this:

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class footrest
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class footrest.

There was no entertainment in the seat backs or Wi-Fi on this flight, though these aren’t nearly as important for a 2-hour flight as they would be if this were a longer flight. There were common monitors above the business class seats.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class common monitors
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class common monitors.
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class common monitors 2
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class common monitors 2.

Lastly, there were some old fashioned controls for headphone volume and entertainment channels next to the headphone jack by the seat.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class seatside headphone and channel controls
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class seat-side headphone and channel controls.

The tray table folded out from the armrests. I found them to be somewhat flimsy.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class tray table folded
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class tray table folded.
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class tray table
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class tray table.

Amenities

On this short-haul flight, no amenities were offered.

Food and Beverage

What really impressed me the most about this flight was the food and beverage service. Shortly after takeoff, we were given meal service menus.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class cover page
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class cover page.
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class title page
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class title page.

There was a selection of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Juices, soft drinks, and caffeinated beverages were also on offer.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class drink page
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class drink page.
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class meals Vietnamese language
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class meals Vietnamese language.

Since our flight was Hong-Kong bound, the left page was applicable. I chose the grilled lamb leg with rosemary and grilled fondant potatoes.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class meals English language menu
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class meals English language menu.

All of the food came out on a single tray, and my dishes were accompanied by Pepsi.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class meal
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class meal.

Amazingly, a 2-hour short-haul flight in business class featured caviar as an appetizer, which blew my mind. It was delicious too!

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class appetizer
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class appetizer.
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class appetizer close-up
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class appetizer close-up.

The lamb, though cooked well-done, had a nice texture to it. The sauce was awesome as well. The fondant potatoes were thick, rich, and complex.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class main course close-up
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class main course close-up.

Dragonfruit was the fruit of choice for my dessert, which I love.

Vietnam Airlines A321 business class dessert
Vietnam Airlines A321 business class dessert.

Entertainment & Service

No inflight entertainment was provided for this short-haul flight. In addition, Wi-Fi wasn’t available. I had anticipated this and put several episodes of Billions on my Apple device before walking on this flight, so it wasn’t an issue at all.

The service was quick and efficient. Also, they made a concerted effort to respond to any flight attendant calls swiftly, which is a plus.

Final Thoughts

All in all, this regional business class flight was far superior to my past experiences in U.S. domestic first class. The main thing I’ll remember is the food. To offer caviar on a 2-hour business class flight in recliner seats was new to me.

I wasn’t affected by the lack of seat-back entertainment, but that’s not crucial for a 2-hour flight. The service wasn’t deficient in any way, but also not particularly memorable. Though really, how memorable can a 2-hour flight be?

Overall, I received excellent value and comfort; much more than I had anticipated for a basic recliner product from my Vietnam Airlines business class flight on the A321.


FAQ

Does Vietnam Airlines have in-flight entertainment?

In this case, Vietnam Airlines didn’t provide in-flight entertainment.

This flight was on a narrow-body aircraft featuring recliner seats, the A321.

Are there direct flights from USA to Vietnam?

Unfortunately, there are currently no direct options to fly to Vietnam from the U.S. This may change in the future, as the FAA recently granted Vietnam a Category 1 Safety Rating, which is needed to commence nonstop flights to America.

The most logical route to be operated by Vietnam Airlines would be from Los Angeles (LAX) to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), but this remains to be confirmed and seen.

Do you get food on regional flights aboard Vietnam Airlines?

Yes! The short-haul flight featured an amazing meal with caviar! Although this flight was only 2 hours long, the service and catering felt like that of a long-haul flight.

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

Yes, you do. You can apply for the E-Visa here.

Is Vietnam Airlines in the SkyTeam alliance?

Yes, Vietnam Airlines is one of the members of the SkyTeam alliance, of which Delta Airlines is also a member.

Is Vietnam Airlines in the Oneworld Alliance?

No, it is not in the Oneworld alliance.

Is Vietnam Airlines in the Star Alliance?

No, it is not in the Star Alliance.

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, thanks to his love for travel hacking. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. Within 2 years, Stephen has earned millions of points and miles, enjoyed several business class cabins, and stayed in luxury hotel suites in 14 countries.

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