Flight Review – Vietnam Airlines VN408: Ho Chi Minh City to Seoul-Incheon by Airbus A350-900 Version 1 (Stelia Seats)

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Arriving from my Vietnam Airlines VN656 flight from Singapore, it was an immediate transfer at Ho Chi Minh City for my connecting overnight flight to Seoul Incheon on Vietnam Airlines VN408. Having already gotten a through check-in at Changi Airport, it was straight to the transfer path for me to head up to the international departures transit area.

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After the rather standard airport security check, the escalators were just up ahead and in a few seconds, I was up in the departure transit area where I have been before.

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There was no flight information screens after security and on the very short path from security to the departure escalator though, so I had to go to the usual flight information screens after security screening for people clearing immigration out of Vietnam.

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My flight is VN408 departing at 11.40pm from Gate 8. But do you spot a mistake that I made?

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I headed to Gate 19 early thinking that it was for Seoul Incheon and that it was a 5 flight codeshare.

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Gate 19 is just a short walk away, thankfully.

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Upon double-checking the flight details before the escalator down to the gate, I realised that the 11.30pm flight at Gate 19 was not my flight, but rather, a Korean Air flight instead. Oops.

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Well, since I was already at this end of the terminal, I went to check out the Sleep Zone operated by SASCO.

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The paid Sleep Zone has beds in individual Sleep Boxes at US$7 per hour.

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Otherwise, open recliners are also available for free outside the Sleep Boxes.

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Payment can be made at the Fresh2Go cafe where they will hand you the key to the Sleep Box. Hmm, I’m contemplating to try this out on the way back with my longer layover.

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Heading back to the flight information screens and across the terminal now that I’m at a very wrong gate.

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Heading to the other side of the terminal.

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Finally at Gate 8 at the opposite end of the terminal, this timje, with my correct flight to Seoul.

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Heading down to the gate.

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Looks like it’s going to be a full flight.

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Re-checking my flight details at the gate itself now that I don’t trust myself that much. Yup, that’s the right flight.

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Not a good shot of my plane at night with the very heavy reflection on the terminal windows.

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Heading into Gate 8. Boarding passes are checked and scanned just before entering the aerobridge.

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VN-A888 would be taking me from Ho Chi Minh City to Seoul today.

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Heading down the aerobridge.

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Boarding the aircraft.

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Korean and Vietnamese newspapers are available to take before boarding the aircraft.

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Heading into my second Airbus A350-900 for the night.

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Heading past the Premium Economy section.

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Heading past the Economy Class section. Looks the same? It is. This is the “Version 1” with Stelia seats, which is part of the first 4 Airbus A350-900 aircraft that Vietnam Airlines took delivery of. I have a bad feeling about my seat arrangement here too.

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And true enough, this isn’t a bulkhead seat again. Argh, the seat map on the online check-in portal was not reflecting this flight as this regional cabin. At least the pillow and blanket was readied at each seat for this night flight.

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The legroom on my regular aisle seat on this Vietnam Airlines Airbus A350-900 “Version 1”.

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Playing the Vietnamese sceneries video again.

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The view of the aircraft from my seat. Just missed the bulkhead by one row again.

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That should be me getting the emergency exit briefing. Sigh.

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The IFE interface on this regional Vietnam Airlines A350 seat is similar to many other A350s such as on Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines.

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Vietnam Airlines has opted to provide a remote control for all seats though, which Malaysia Airlines does not have. But anyway, I did not use the remote at all since everything can be done on the touch screen.

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A welcome video of Vietnam Airlines was played white the wet tissue service is in progress.

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Another wet tissue to start off this second flight.

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After the videos, the IFE screen changed to a welcome.

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The safety video was played while pushing back.

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Some screen grabs of the Vietnam Airlines safety video. My comments on this suspiciously familiar video has been made on my previous post here.

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Watch the Vietnam Airlines safety video here:

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A bank advertisement followed the safety video. Yup, I wasn’t expecting that either.

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Shortly after the video, the IFE was switched on. That’s nice. However, the captain’s announcement came along with it saying that the weather around Taiwan is “er… very bad, very bad” and that the flight would take a lot longer so “sit back and relax”. He did mention something of flying via the Philippines and Japan too. Sounds like a big detour. More time to sleep I guess. But that means lesser time for the first day of trains later. Argh.

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The welcome screen of the IFE.

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Hmm, no indication of the changed flight path yet, though I don’t think the system is capable of it anyway.

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Headsets were distributed once in the air. These do not come in outer plastic covering.

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An extended flight time of about one and a half hours as compared to the regular flight time of about 4 hours in the air.

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Afterwards, the arrival card and customs declaration form into South Korea were distributed.

An announcement was made that Vietnam Airlines would be serving a “snack” (assuming I heard it correctly) now for midnight, and then a round of drinks just before landing. Okay fantastic, sounds like a plan to get more sleep then.

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Following the announcement, menus were distributed to everyone. That’s a pleasant touch.

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The drinks menu was more extensive than I thought. How is Vietnam Airlines only a 4 Star Skytrax airline?

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The menu for food in Vietnamese.

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Wait a minute.

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This doesn’t sound like a “snack” to me?

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Considering that I just had my fish with noodle about 2 hours ago, I was still pretty full at midnight for this “snack”. First world problems.

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I decided to go with the stir-fried beef Szechuan style with fried rice, as the fried rice with seafood and pineapple sounds like some sweet and sour catering bento to me. The meal was served with a raw vegetable salad, fresh fruits and a soft roll. This is so not a snack.

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The beef was surprisingly tender, and I finished it. Unfortunately, the beef and fruits were also all that I finished in the meal since I was still rather full from my previous in-flight meal, and I was quite tired and in need of sleep too.

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Heading to the toilet after my “snack” and before sleeping.

The sleep was surprisingly pleasant, I woke up only when there was some activity going on with drinks going around. Oops, I missed the drinks service then.

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Checking in on the route map to see where I’ve been going on this diversion. Looks serious with that 90 degree turn.

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That’s a strange flight path from southeast Asia.

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Good news is that I’m arriving in Seoul soon.

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Oh wow, this looks like a serious detour to avoid Taiwan.

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The flight touched down at 7.42am – 62 minutes delayed from schedule thanks to the detour. Oh well, but better than being blown out of the atmosphere I guess.

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Disembarking from the aircraft.

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Passing through the Premium Economy section.

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Hmm, I guess the legroom is slightly more generous in Premium Economy, just like Malaysia Airlines’ Economy Class with Extra Legroom. I’d be pissed if I had paid for Premium Economy and was given this aircraft.

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Disembarking via the aerobridge.

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Oh hello, were you guys delayed too?

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The wingtip of Vietnam Airlines’ Airbus A350-900.

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Heading straight into the arrivals level.

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Thanks VN-A888.

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A nice welcome to Seoul with the Vietnamese flag alongside the South Korean flag.

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Heading to arrivals via the travellator.

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Looking back at VN-A888.

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Heading downstairs to the train? Interesting. Wasn’t expecting this.

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Heading down to the Shuttle Train platform.

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Waiting for the Shuttle Train.

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The train arrived full of passengers, but they all alighted at the opposite platform first. I guess the Shuttle Train operates as an independent line with Spanish Solution platforms to separate departing and arriving passengers rather than a loop system like Hong Kong International Airport.

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Queuing up to get ready to board the Shuttle Train.

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The interior of the Shuttle Train.

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Yup, definitely a Mitsubishi Crystal Mover.

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This almost looks like Changi Airport instead.

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Oh, was totally not expecting this rival language.

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The overall route map of the Shuttle Train system. On a normal journey at Incheon, you will probably use either 0 or 1 leg of the Blue Line, with the usage of the Orange Line pretty rare.

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The interior of the Shuttle Train after most passengers had disembarked.

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Heading up the escalators to continue on the path to arrivals.

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Immigration was surprisingly quite fast. Unfortunately, South Korea no longer issues passport stamps, but rather, just a receipt of entry printed on thermal paper.

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Heading down to the baggage carousel.

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My bag took almost forever to come out – I stood at the belt for a good 35 minutes before meeting with my bag. Hmm, I expected more from Incheon considering that it’s one of the top airports in the world just a little bit below Changi.

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And hello, South Korea!

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Wow, that’s a lot of delays.

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Lots more incoming delays for the next few flights too.

Overall, a pleasant flight on Vietnam Airlines VN408 though the regional seat was just slightly disappointing, not because it wasn’t comfortable, but because I was looking forward to the normal long-haul “Version 2” seats which I’ve already experienced on the first leg from Singapore. It was great that the pilot kept everyone updated about the whole situation to divert away from the super typhoon, Typhoon Lekima, though I only knew about this when I got the airport WiFi in Seoul. The pilot probably withheld this information earlier since Typhoon Lekima had not struck yet, and also probably not to panic some “excitable” guests.

Despite having just arrived in Seoul, I can’t wait for the Vietnam Airlines flights back to Singapore already.

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