Flight Review – Vietnam Airlines VN409: Seoul-Incheon to Ho Chi Minh City by Airbus A350-900 Version 2 (Zodiac/Safran Seats)

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With my South Korean holiday coming to an end, it’s time to head home. For my return flight, I picked Vietnam Airlines VN409 from Seoul-Incheon to Ho Chi Minh City just so that I could fly on their Airbus A350, despite being a morning flight. But at least with this connection, it would get me back in Singapore not too late at night, and part of the flight is also for the experience anyway, rather than just a mode of transport, so I didn’t mind too much with the early start of my flying day.

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For check-in, Vietnam Airlines takes up the whole Row E at Terminal 1.

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The sign above the counters for Economy Class.

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Once check-in was done seamlessly since I had already checked in online, I was directed to wait at the end of the check-in row for 5 minutes while my bag was being checked.

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There is a sitting area here too for you to wait.

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My boarding pass for my Vietnam Airlines VN409 flight from Seoul-Incheon to Ho Chi Minh City.

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My onward boarding pass for my Vietnam Airlines VN657 flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore.

After about 10 minutes of waiting, I headed back to the check-in counter which I used to see what’s the update on my bag status, and the counter staff just told me that it’s okay to leave.

Uh…

Hi Incheon Airport, if you wanna do a proper check upon check-in, learn from Bangkok Don Mueang whereby there is a separate security area after the check-in row (exactly like how you’re doing it), but passengers have to dump their bags there, and with a security officer telling the passenger when they can actually leave the security area. At least passengers won’t be in limbo that way, and you can immediately see who owns the bag without the need for long tracing.

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Re-checking my flight on the departure screen just in case.

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Yup, same gate as my boarding pass at Gate 109, with no delays.

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Gate 109 is located at the Concourse. If in doubt, double digit numbers are in the main Terminal 1, while 100-series gates are in the Concourse. 200-series gates are in Terminal 2.

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Here, I headed on to departure immigration.

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Goodbye, South Korea.

Immigration was totally hassle-free as I was able to use the auto gate to exit the country with no queues, similar to Hong Kong.

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Barely 5 minutes through security and immigration, I’m in the transit area.

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Wow, thanks Baby Shark.

After walking around the transit area of Terminal 1 with nothing much to buy, and with the eating places rather crowded, I decided to head to the Concourse early.

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To get to the Concourse, I have to get the Shuttle Train.

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Signs to the gate numbers are clearly posted before the escalator down to the Shuttle Train.

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Heading down to the Shuttle Train platform in the basement.

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Shuttle Trains are available on both sides of the escalator.

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The next Shuttle Train for me was departing on my left.

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The Mitsubishi Crystal Mover Shuttle Train at Terminal 1.

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Boarding the Blue Line Shuttle Train.

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The interior of the Mitsubishi Crystal Mover Shuttle Train.

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The map of train services on the Blue Line between Terminal 1 and Concourse. Train services are one-way only, and backtracking is not allowed. Do not joyride on this train if you have a long transit time or you’re just going to end up in a long miserable wait at your gate.

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The overall system map of the Shuttle Train, which most passengers will only be using only up to one leg of the network on the Blue Line.

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Disembarking from the Shuttle Train.

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Heading up the escalator to the gates.

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The Orange Line to Terminal 2 departs from the same track but on a different end of the platform.

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Passengers transferring to a flight in Terminal 2 will need to scan their boarding pass onto the gate to gain access to the Orange Line.

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Heading up to the Concourse concourse.

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Dining and retail options are available in the Concourse too. I had my breakfast in a rather empty Taco Bell.

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Continuing on to my gate after breakfast.

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Taking the travellator across the long Concourse.

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Approaching my gate at Gate 109.

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My plane at Gate 109.

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Glad I’m not in the Airbus A321. Vietnam Airlines operates an impressive network between Incheon Airport and Da Nang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang, though most flights use the A321.

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The front view of my aircraft.

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VN-A890 will be taking me from Seoul-Incheon to Ho Chi Minh City.

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Heading back to the gate to board. Mobile boarding passes are not accepted, and the hardcopy boarding pass must be presented for boarding.

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Taking the escalator down to the aerobridge.

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A nice view of the aircraft with the glass facade around the aerobridge area.

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Hmm… Left or right?

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Definitely right.

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Walking down the empty aerobridge. I had wanted to be one of the last to board as it was going to be a full daytime flight and I wanted to use the airport’s WiFi since my 72-hour SIM card had expired.

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Heading to board the aircraft.

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A selection of Korean and Vietnamese newspapers are available to take before boarding.

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Heading through the Premium Economy section.

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And hello, my prized seat for the flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

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The interior of the Economy Class cabin on Vietnam Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 Version 2 with Zodiac/Safran seats.

At this point, I was requested by one of the cabin crew to not take any photos of staff on board the flight, which I definitely obliged to her request.

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The legroom I get on board this flight.

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I do, however, get a full view of the flight attendants during take-off and landing, so that means no usage of mobile phones.

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The view of the cabin from my seat.

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Unfortunately, Vietnam Airlines chose not to install individual air-conditioning vents on their Airbus A350-900.

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My magazine rack was filled with actual literature, unlike my Malaysia Airlines exit row seat on the Airbus A350.

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The view out of my personal window.

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An Air Seoul Airbus A321 being pushed back from the Concourse.

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Once the aircraft doors are closed, the wet tissue service commenced.

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Control buttons for the IFE were located by the side of my seat.

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Before push back, it started to rain again.

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The raindrops on the Airbus A350’s signature windows.

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The welcome screen of the broadcasting screen.

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The safety video was played shortly after.

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Watch the Vietnam Airlines safety video here:

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VietJet Air Airbus A321s are on the other side of the Concourse. This looks like Vietnam already before even getting there.

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Taxiing to the runway.

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Getting ready to take off in the rain.

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Goodbye Concourse.

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Goodbye Terminal 1.

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Goodbye Incheon Airport Maglev Line.

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It was an expectedly bumpy ride through the clouds up, but it didn’t last for too long.

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Cruising above the rain.

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Once the seat belt signs were switched off, I flipped out my IFE screen from the side to see that it was already active. However, headsets were not distributed yet.

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Menus were distributed first.

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The extensive drinks menu available for Economy Class passengers.

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The meal selection in Vietnamese.

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For lunch, there would be two options – the Marinated Fish with Hot Spicy Sauce and Steamed Rice, and the Stir-Fried Beef with Jajang Sauce and Steamed Rice. Both would be served with a Smoked Duck Breast Mixed Vegetable Salad, a Soft Roll and Fresh Fruits.

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The welcome screen of the IFE.

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Ports for the USB and headsets are available on the side.

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The interface of the LotuStar IFE.

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Looks good.

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The route map on the IFE, which is run by a channel rather than being interactive.

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The estimated flight path to Ho Chi Minh City.

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As the headsets were still not coming along after so long from take-off, I decided to use my SQ one (again) to start entertaining myself.

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There would first be  refreshment service, so I readied my table. Here it is when half-folded.

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The full length of the tray table when folded out.

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A pack of mixed nuts was first distributed.

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The drinks trolley followed, with all the drinks listed on the menu. I got myself a Sprite. Basic, sorry.

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The view down from 40,000 feet.

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The Airbus A350 wingtip of Vietnam Airlines.

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After a while, the meal service commenced.

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I picked the Marinated Fish with Hot Spicy Sauce and Steamed Rice for lunch.

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The fish tasted pretty good and soft. The sauce was a bit salty though, but eating it with the rice was alright.

The meal service was complimented by the cabin crew who walked around the aircraft with wine, green tea, black tea and coffee throughout the duration of the meal.

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Time for a toilet visit after the meal and drinks.

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The cabin was turned into night mode after all the services for the remainder part of cruising, with a nice purple hue.

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Once announcements were made for cabin crew to collect back the headsets, the IFE was changed back to the broadcast channel which is very annoying.

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Especially when the plane is still pretty high up.

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Hello Vietnam.

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Descending into Ho Chi Minh City.

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Crossing over the Soài Rạp River.

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Turning left for the final approach into Ho Chi Minh City.

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The Vinhomes Landmark 81 standing out of the Ho Chi Minh City skyline.

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Looking down at the populated Ho Chi Minh City.

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Flying past the Saigon River.

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Flying past the new Gigamall.

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The new skyline of Ho Chi Minh City.

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Unfortunately, I’ll not be visiting the city on this transit stop.

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Approaching Ho Chi Minh City.

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Touched down in Ho Chi Minh City at 1.06pm – 24 minutes ahead of schedule.

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Turning back to the international terminal.

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A Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner which just arrived too.

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Hey, the international terminal is straight ahead. Don’t turn here please?

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Why does Tony get 2 gates and I don’t.

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Parked at a remote stand off the international and domestic terminals. Sigh.

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There was a short wait for apron buses to arrive at my stand.

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After which, there was another wait for the mobile stairs to come.

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Once all the apron vehicles are in place, the disembarkation process began.

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As both front and rear doors were in use for disembarking, I was one of the last to disembark as I was seated in the middle of the Economy Class cabin.

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Disembarking from the rear door of the Airbus A350.

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The stairs in the rear did not have any shelter. No complaints though, for the good weather and views of the apron.

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My first time disembarking from a widebody aircraft from the rear.

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Heading down to the apron bus.

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Luckily I only had a small backpack with me in the cabin as I checked in my luggage.

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Boarding the apron bus to the international terminal.

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The apron bus had my flight number on the EDS, as if it’s to say that this is Bus Service 409 from Seoul to Ho Chi Minh City.

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Departing from VN-A890.

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Thanks for the ride, VN-A890.

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The driver’s cab of the apron bus is completely sealed off from the main cabin.

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The bus made another stop by the aircraft wing to pick up one more passenger coming down from the plane.

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Once that passenger came up, the bus proceeded on to the international terminal.

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First time I’m seeing apron bicycles.

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Vietnam Airlines’ A350 behind in SkyTeam livery.

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Heading on under the aerobridges to the drop-off point for international arrivals.

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Arriving at the international arrivals drop-off point.

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Heading into the terminal.

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Thanks, apron bus.

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Heading up the escalator to arrivals.

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Continuing on the short walk to the junction to immigration and transfer.

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Just before the junction, there were Vietnam Airlines ground staff looking out for passengers to Singapore. I approached one of the staff, wondering what was going on (they didn’t have this when I was going to Seoul), and she directed me to the transfer lane to international departures. That was a nice additional touch to the ground service.

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I contemplated going to the city just for a little while on my 3-hour transit, but the immigration queue here quickly threw my idea out of my head.

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Turning right to international departures for my transit.

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The departure schedule before the international departures lane.

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Here, I proceeded for security screening to enter the international departures transit area.

Overall, a pleasant flight on Vietnam Airline with the nice meal service and good selection of TV shows on the LotuStar IFE. Without an aircraft swap, I finally got my extra legroom seat too, which makes it even more better.

Now, off to my 3-hour transit in Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

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