Flight Review – Vietnam Airlines VN657: Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore by Airbus A350-900 Version 2 (Zodiac/Safran Seats)

Vietnam Airlines VN409 ICN SGN 158

Coming in from my VN409 flight from Seoul, there is actually a tight connection of 40 minutes to Singapore on VN655. However, Vietnam Airlines did not sell this connection, and thus I had to wait for 2 hours and 45 minutes for my connecting flight, Vietnam Airlines VN657 from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore. Thankfully, this flight is operated by the Airbus A350-900 as well, so the long transit time was at least rewarded with a widebody aircraft.

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I took the transfer lane to international departures, and the checks were done in less than a minute before I got the escalator up to the departure transit area.

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Re-checking my flight details on the main screen in the departure transit hall.

To while away my long transit time, I headed to the SASCO Orchid Lounge.

Click here to read the review of the Tan Son Nhat International Airport Priority Pass lounge:
https://railtravelstation.com/2019/10/02/lounge-review-sasco-orchid-lounge-ho-chi-minh-city-tan-son-nhat-international-airport-a-basic-lounge-for-a-comfortable-layover-but-not-really-worth-your-money

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Once done with my lounge visit, I headed to Gate 20 to board my flight back to Singapore.

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The escalator down to Gate 20.

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Got the right gate this time.

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Heading down to Gate 20. While it looks like a gate hold room, it’s actually free for all to sit around here.

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Hello, Airbus A350 again. Your missing nose paint looks familiar though.

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Oh look, it’s VN-A890 again which brought me from Seoul earlier on and which I saw being towed from the Orchid Lounge.  Hmm, why couldn’t I get a gate earlier then.

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VN-A890 would be taking me from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore, which means that the aircraft actually flew me on my complete route from Seoul to Singapore.

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A closer shot of the fuselage of VN-A890.

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A LATAM Airlines Airbus A350 operating for Qatar Airways touching down in Ho Chi Minh City.

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

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Queuing up to board the last leg of the journey back to Singapore.

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The departure screen above the gate.

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Heading down the aerobridge to VN-A890.

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Sigh, if only I got this gate upon arrival.

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Goodbye Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

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Heading down the aerobridge.

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Vietnamese newspapers are available to take before boarding the aircraft.

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Boarding VN-A890 again, this time to Singapore.

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Heading past the very full Premium Economy cabin. I’m not sure if Vietnam Airlines sell Premium Economy tickets to Singapore, or this section is reserved for full-fare Economy Class travellers to be bumped up.

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My regular aisle seat on this flight.

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The legroom available on the Vietnam Airlines Airbus A350-900 Version 2 with Zodiac/Safran seats.

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The usual Vietnamese scenery video was played during boarding.

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The view of the aircraft from my front-ish Economy Class seat.

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Once the doors were closed, the cabin crew distributed wet tissues.

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The welcome screen of the IFE upon the doors closing.

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Before the safety video was played, there was an advertisement by Vietcombank. K.

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Next up was the safety video.

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The sceneries of Vietnam with the Vietnam Airlines stewardesses, which felt rather SQ-ish.

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Watch the Vietnam Airlines safety video here:

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Another bank commercial. K.

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After take-off, I pulled out my SQ headsets again as Vietnam Airlines does not provide headsets on this short flight. However, on top of that, the IFE was also unfortunately not switched on for most of the time on this flight. Oh well. At least I had some ambient music.

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As this was a short flight, the meal service commenced rather quickly. There was an option of “beef with noodle” or “chicken with rice”. However, when approaching my row, one of the crew came around to tell the trolleys that the noodle dish was actually pork rather than beef. That’s potentially super dangerous for passengers whose religions prohibit eating pork and may have unintentionally eaten the dish already, especially if they haven’t requested for a special meal.

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I picked the “pork with noodle” for my early dinner.

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The dish unfortunately tasted very dry, even with the sauce coating the pork. The meat was tough too. Luckily, I had eaten in the SASCO Orchid Lounge earlier so I wasn’t feeling very hungry when this meal came, and just finished off the rest of the sides of the salad, bread roll and a banana.

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After my meal, the IFE was surprisingly switched on.

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The main selection screen of the LotuStar IFE.

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Visiting the clean toilet after my meal.

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I watched a TV show for about 10 minutes and the screen turned back to this even before the plane started to descend into Singapore. Ugh.

The flight landed at 6.56pm – 34 minutes ahead of schedule. However, it was a long taxi around Changi Airport. When approaching Terminal 4, I looked out of the window to see 4 Cathay Pacific aircraft taking up all the widebody gates in Terminal 4 – due to the protests of suspending all flights. As such, my plane continued across South Cross to the remote stands. Argh.

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Heading through the Premium Economy cabin when disembarking.

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The legroom offered on Premium Economy.

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Looking back from the stairs, I see a Cathay Pacific parade of aircraft heading to the remote stands now. Sigh, too late.

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Heading down the mobile stairs directly to the apron bus.

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Taking the bus away from VN-A890 again, a deja vu feeling as if I done the same thing earlier today too.

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Goodbye VN-A890 again. Thanks for the ride from Seoul and Ho Chi Minh City.

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More Cathay Pacific aircraft joining the SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX 8s.

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Some other Cathay Pacific aircraft parked alongside other airlines at the regular remote stands.

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Crossing over Airport Boulevard.

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Arriving at the arrival bus bay. Looks like just another air-conditioned bus interchange.

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Heading down the path to arrival immigration.

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The path leads directly to the main arrival immigration hall.

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Continuing to pick up my bag from the baggage carousel.

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My bag would be coming out from Belt 5.

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As my bag was coming by road, there was a bit of a wait of around 10 minutes for my bag to come out, as compared to the almost-instantaneous appearance of my bag when the plane is parked at the gate. Thankfully, watching the Petalclouds helped to while some of that waiting time away.

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Once done, I headed out through customs to head home.

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I decided to get the shuttle bus to Terminal 2 and take the MRT instead so as to see VN-A890 one last time in Singapore.

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Heading to the empty waiting area.

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Turns out that the bus is here, so I headed straight out to board it.

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Bye bye VN-A890, thanks for the flights.

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Not a very pleasant day for Cathay Pacific, as shown on the T4 departure screens at the Terminal 2 shuttle bus bay.

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Heading down to the Changi Airport MRT Station which was just adjacent to the shuttle bus bay at the Arrival Hall of Terminal 2.

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Hmm, is it a sign that I should go back to Seoul?

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Here, I got on the burden Siemens train to Tanah Merah to change to the main East West Line. Way to go, SMRT, for showing this train to tourists at Changi Airport.

Overall, a pleasant flight which just met expectations. The flight for me from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore on time was was great, though the regional in-flight services did not reveal the full potential of the Airbus A350 product like on my flight from Seoul, despite being the exact same aircraft, especially with regards to the IFE. I guess the bonus of the Airbus A350 on this regional route is just for the little bit more extra legroom as compared to the Airbus A321 and cleaner air to breathe on board the new plane.

But nevertheless, with the very competitive fares that Vietnam Airlines is offering, I wouldn’t mind flying with them again.

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