Flight Review – Vietnam Airlines VN656: Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City (for Seoul-Incheon) by Airbus A350-900 Version 2 (Zodiac/Safran Seats)

Vietnam Airlines VN656 SIN SGN for ICN 001

Vietnam Airlines offers one of the lowest full-service airfares in the region. With a rather cheap airfare to Seoul on the super long National Day weekend, I decided to try out their services with a very reasonable fare. On top of that, Vietnam Airlines has also recently increased the capacity of one of their flights from Singapore, Vietnam Airlines VN656, to an Airbus A350-900, so it was a great connecting flight to get a long-haul product all the way from Singapore to South Korea.

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Heading to Terminal 4 Row 2 to check-in for my flight.

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As Vietnam Airlines does not use the FAST@Changi system, check-in is done at the traditional check-in counters at Row 2.

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Queuing up at the Economy Class queue.

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The manned check-in desks at Row 2.

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Checking in my bag traditionally at the counter.

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The service by the ground staff was pretty excellent, checking with me my seat preferences one last time before printing out my boarding pass despite having already checked-in online. My boarding passes were also provided in this Through Check-In Wallet. Feels like First Class or something.

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My boarding passes and baggage tag in the Through Check-In Wallet.

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My boarding pass for my very first Vietnam Airlines flight, VN656 from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City. The ground agent reminded me to be at the boarding gate by the stipulated time as it will close earlier, since Gate H1 is a bus gate.

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My boarding pass for the connecting flight, Vietnam Airlines VN408 from Ho Chi Minh City to Seoul-Incheon.

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Heading to departure immigration.

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The automated immigration kiosks at Terminal 4.

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Once done with immigration and security screening, I double-checked the departure screen again, in the hopes of the gate changing to a G in front instead.

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Nope, still H1. Sigh.

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Heading through the duty-free shops into the main part of the transit area of Terminal 4.

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Heading through the transit area.

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The Peranakan houses at Terminal 4.

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The H Gates at Terminal 4 are to the left of the Peranakan houses.

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To head down to the H Gates, you have the option of the elevator, escalator, or slide.

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Unfortunately the slide down to the H Gates was out of service on the day of my journey.

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Heading down by the escalator instead.

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Heading down to the bus gates of Terminal 4. All H Gates are bus gates.

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The slide travels down beside the escalators.

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The slide might have been more efficient to get down to the gate.

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The Chandelier was also out of service. Hmm.

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Heading behind to Gate H1.

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Queuing to board my bus to Ho Chi Minh City. This looks like Toa Payoh Bus Interchange or something.

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The screen of my boarding gate for the bus to Ho Chi Minh City.

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Queuing up to board the bus with a boarding pass and passport.

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As the first bus was full (luckily), the bus moved off and I had an almost empty bus to pick out a seat from.

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The interior of the Woodlands Transport Scania K230UB as the apron bus for my Vietnam Airlines flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

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The path from the gate to the bus was guarded by two security officers.

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The legroom on board the Woodlands Transport Scania K230UB.

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Heading out of the Terminal 4 H Gates bus bay.

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Turning left to the new linkway to the remote bays between the PIE and Terminal 4.

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This really looks like a bus terminal rather than an airport.

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The bus terminal H Gates are actually really close to the public driveways.

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Crossing over Airport Boulevard.

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Turning left to the remote stands.

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Terminal 4 as seen from across Airport Boulevard.

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Looping back under the linkway.

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Up close and personal with Scoot’s 9V-OFK “Getting Lei’d”.

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My Vietnam Airlines plane was peeking out from behind. VN-A896 would be taking me from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City.

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Hello, Vietnam Airlines Airbus A350-900 in Singapore.

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Turning to stop beside the aircraft.

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Business Class passengers were directed to use the front mobile stairs.

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Everyone else went up the second mobile stairs.

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The path from the bus door to the apron were guarded by the ground staff, with the guy telling everyone to stop taking photos and just board the aircraft.

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Heading up the covered mobile stairs.

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Boarding the Vietnam Airlines Airbus A350-900.

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Heading through the Premium Economy section of the Vietnam Airlines Airbus A350-900.

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Heading through the Economy Class section of the Vietnam Airlines Airbus A350-900.

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Hey… This isn’t a bulkhead seat as advised on the online check-in portal and the ground agent earlier.

Turns out that this Airbus A350-900 aircraft that I am on is the normal “Version 2” with Zodiac/Safran Seats, rather than the regional “Version 1” with Stelia Seats, which is the seat map showing for this flight. This “Version 2” is the by-right interior of the Vietnam Airlines Airbus A350-900, with the “Version 1” a last-minute change in cabin interiors to meet the aircraft delivery times with the delays caused by the seat manufacturer.

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The legroom on board the Vietnam Airlines Airbus A350-900 “Version 2”. Pretty generous, looks like my next flight would be good, I think. Thankfully, despite being the last row of seats in the forward Economy cabin, the recline was not restricted.

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The IFE screen showing sceneries of Vietnam during boarding.

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The view of the aircraft from my seat, while waiting for the next bus to arrive.

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The LED signs and reading lights on board. Unfortunately, Vietnam Airlines did not choose to install individual air-conditioning vents on their Airbus A350-900s.

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The welcome screen on the IFE after the Vietnamese sceneries video was over.

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The safety video was played while waiting for the next bus. Hmm?

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The safety video uses Vietnamese lifestyles.

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Hmm… This style of safety video feels rather familiar.

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A cinema setting with people using mobile phones in them?

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And a guy putting his cinema seat upright?

Doesn’t it look like this other safety video?

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At least on the Vietnam Airlines safety video, actual aircraft interiors are used to additionally illustrate how to do it.

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Oxygen masks will drop from above the beach.

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The actual oxygen masks were unfortunately not used to continue the story line.

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The escape lights were actually rather well presented on the jetty.

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Life rafts departing from the aircraft over real water shots.

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Actual aircraft life vests were also used to demonstrate swimming, which was good.

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I do quite like the ending of the safety video though, transitioning from the model Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to the actual aircraft.

Watch the Vietnam Airlines safety video here:

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The safety video was followed by some advertisements.

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Once everyone is on board, the crew commence their wet tissue service.

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A wet tissue was given to everyone to freshen up before take-off.

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The view of the full aircraft from my seat.

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The cabin lights were dimmed for take-off, starting from the rear to the front.

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A quick toilet tour after the seat belt signs were switched off.

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Shortly after, the IFE came alive. Unfortunately still without headphones.

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The welcome page of the LotuStar IFE system.

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My flight information on the IFE system.

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The flight path changes in a channel, rather than you choosing what to feature.

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Some passengers around requested for headsets but the crew replied that they do not distribute it for short flights. Oh well. Luckily, Singapore Airlines is here to save the day with one of their take-home in-ear headphones provided free on Economy Class, taken from my previous flight. Thanks SQ.

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Since the IFE wasn’t really catered for individual entertainment on this flight, the screen changed again to show the Vietnamese sceneries video again.

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Folding out my tray table to get ready for dinner.

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Two trolleys were used for the meal service, the first for the main meal tray and the second for drinks.

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Two typical airplane food options were available for dinner – chicken with rice or fish with noodles.

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I opted for the fish with noodles. The dish came with a raw salad side, a break roll, and a whole banana. I got an apple juice and red wine for my drinks.

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The fish with noodles tasted quite alright, but it might be because I was hungry. The noodles itself was quite dry but the fish and two drinks I had compensated for it.

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The IFE changed to a Thank You message upon touch down at Ho Chi Minh City.

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Disembarking from the aircraft.

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The bulkhead legroom which I was looking forward to.

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Passing through the Premium Economy section on the way out.

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Disembarking via the aerobridge.

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Looks like it was raining before I arrived.

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Thank you, VN-A896.

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Heading down the travellators to the transfer area.

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The junction to transfers is the same as the point to turn towards immigration.

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As I already had my boarding pass from Singapore, I need not head to the transfer counter here.

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Onward boarding pass in hand, I headed to the transfer lane to international departures.

Overall, a rather pleasant first flight with Vietnam Airlines despite them not offering headsets for the journey. But I guess that’s (almost) fine since this is an aircraft upsize from an Airbus A321 on certain days only and on all other flights, so the service is almost consistent throughout whichever flight you choose I guess? At least I have a long haul Economy Class seat on this short hop though.

Next up, my connecting Seoul flight.

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