#2406 – Vietnam Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 Business Class Flight VN19 HAN-CDG

ENGLISH

Posts in the 2020 Southeast Asia Spring Trip series:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: KLM Business Class Boeing 777-300ER Amsterdam to Jakarta
3. Part II: Yogyakarta
4. Part III: Singapore
5. Part IV: Travel Drama to Hanoi
6. Part V: Hanoi
7. Part VI: Ninh Binh
8. Part VII: Vietnam Airlines Business Class Airbus A350-900 Hanoi to Paris
9. Part VIII: KLM’s new Boeing 737-800 Europe Business Class

After a little over two weeks in Southeast Asia, it was time for me already to go back to Europe. And I was super excited for this part as I would be flying with a Vietnam Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 in business class! 😍

As usual just after I bought my ticket last year, I would like to select my seat. But because I bought my ticket via Air France, I couldn’t do so because apparently the Air France’s and Vietnam Airlines’ systems couldn’t “communicate” with each other, despite their corporation in several routes plus both being members of SkyTeam. I contacted both airlines back then. Vietnam Airlines’ agent said their system wouldn’t allow them to select seat because of my Air France flight number, and Air France’s agent said they couldn’t access Vietnam Airlines’ system. What the Air France’s agent could do was to put up some notes for my request which check-in agent could read during check-in at the airport. Strange!

Hanoi Noi Bai Airport’s International Terminal

Anyway I went to the airport really early today, as I planned to get some food at the lounge. At first this appeared ‘problematic’ because there was no agent at all at the priority check-in counters, which I found strange given this was a Vietnam Airlines’ hub. I asked an officer at the ‘station office’ counter who, rudely, said I would have to wait three hours before the check-in counter opened. Like, WTF!

Empty Vietnam Airlines check-in desks

But I saw two agents working at the empty economy class check-in counters literally next to the ‘station office’. I decided to try my luck and went to one, which really nice agent (She was literally the first nice Vietnam Airlines’ ground crew that I had encountered up to this point) happily said that, of course, I could check-in! At one point she had to walk to the business class check-in area to get a lounge invitation for me. And I gladly would like to report that it seems that the note left by the Air France’s agent worked because I got a seat that I liked πŸ˜€ .

Vietnam Airlines’ Lotus Lounge

I then cleared immigration and security, which were a breeze as there was almost noone else at the time! I then followed the sign to Vietnam Airlines’ Lotus Lounge which was located at the upper level of the terminal.

Vietnam Airlines’ Lotus Lounge

My first impression of the lounge was that it looked beautiful with the wooden decoration! It was spacious too (with very high ceiling) which made it easy to social distance, haha πŸ˜† . However, the food and drink selections were just average, at best.

The food area at Vietnam Airlines’ Lotus Lounge

As it turned out, the gate of my flight to Paris was literally just below the lounge, which made it super convenient. Today’s flight would be operated with an Airbus A350-900 reg VN-A898. I went to the gate about five minutes before the scheduled boarding time, though boarding actually started just some 45 minutes after that.

Vietnam Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 VN-A898 at Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport

Anyway, I expected the business class cabin today to be in staggered configuration, just like on Air France’s brand new Airbus A350-900. So you could imagine my surprise when I saw a reverse herringbone cabin as I boarded the plane! 😍 My first time ever in such cabin layout! What was cool about Vietnam Airlines’ business class cabin was that they did not install overhead bins at the center-side of the cabin, thus making the cabin felt really spacious!

Vietnam Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 reverse herringbone business class cabin

As I settled onto my comfortable 2K seat, I realized that, as a plane window-lover, I actually prefer the staggered layout because on a reverse herringbone window seat, the windows felt a little bit “out of the way”, haha.

Vietnam Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 business class seat 2K

Amenity kit and a pair of sandals were already presented on the seat. The seat also had a couple of storage spaces. One was a mini cabinet at the side which was also where the headphone was stored, and another was at the aisle side of the seat just underneath the adjustable armrest.

Side storage space on Vietnam Airlines’ reverse herringbone seat

The flight attendants then distributed the pre-departure drink. I actually wanted the champagne, as usual, but then they also had watermelon juice which was presented so beautifully that I chose that instead, haha. I perhaps should still have gone with the champagne, though πŸ˜› .

A really pretty pre-departure drink

As boarding completed and we got the permission to depart, Vietnam Airlines’ cute safety video was played via the IFE screens:

The crew then distributed the menu books on this flight. We then reached runway 11R and took off from there to head towards Europe. As usual, I then took off my shoes and changed to the sandals to make myself comfortable.

Vietnam Airlines’ sandals

Not long after take off, a flight attendant went to the cabin and took our orders for the supper service, as it was a late departure flight. Appetizers came with two options: smoked salmon or prawn with tuna sauce, which I opted for the former. And main course came with three options: Hue beef noodle soup, braised grouper with rice, or BBQ pork ribs. I was actually intrigued with the noodle soup but since I already knew I would like the pho for breakfast later on, I opted for the pork ribs instead, haha.

Ready for the supper service on Vietnam Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 business class

The appetizer was then served, which consisted of three small bites of smoked salmon, which I paired with the blue Vietnam Sky cocktail. So it turned out that Vietnam Airlines had three signature cocktail drinks on this flight, which I was, of course, intrigued about, haha. The other options were High Mountain and Saigon Sunlight. All looked interesting, really.

Appetizers

The main course was then served after I completed my appetizer. And I have to say that the main course, finally, came in ‘reasonable’ size to make myself full enough, haha. It was also a quite good pork ribs which I certainly enjoyed.

BBQ pork ribs

Anyway, somehow my IFE was not working mid-flight so I reported this to the flight attendant. She apologized and asked me to move to the vacant seat 1K, but it turned out seat 1K’s IFE was also not working. She then restarted the IFE system and, thankfully, it worked after that.

Speaking of the IFE, with a reverse herringbone seat the IFE screen had to be “flipped” to be in a comfortable position to watch, haha. The IFE content was actually quite good, with a few good movie collections. I decided to watch Disney’s 2019 The Lion King. Quite an unpopular opinion here, but I think the animation was actually good, and I really enjoyed it! It “distinguished” the movie from the iconic 1994 version.

The Lion King

Anyway after I finished supper, I brushed my teeth as it was then time for some sleep. It had been quite a long day for me too. So I set the seat to full lie flat mode, put the eye mask on, and got a solid 6 hours of sleep!

The seat in lie flat mode

I woke up feeling fresh, as we were already somewhere above western Russia. The flight attendants then distributed some drink, and I got myself an orange juice. Btw there was no warm towel service on this flight, which was replaced with the regular wet napkins due to the COVID-19 situation.

Orange juice

Breakfast then followed, which came with three options: beef pho, crepes, or ham and potato salad. Obviously I went for the pho, which was perfect for breakfast! Indeed, it did not disappoint, it was really good!

Vietnam Airlines’ signature beef pho for breakfast

About an hour after breakfast, we were on approach to Paris’ Charles De Gaulle International Airport. We then landed smoothly at runway 26L of the airport. VN-A898 parked at Terminal 2E’s Hall M. I disembarked the plane into Paris’ cold morning (which chill I could feel in the air bridge), and headed towards Terminal 2F from where my connecting KLM flight to Amsterdam would depart from.

BAHASA INDONESIA

Posting-posting dalam seri Perjalanan Musim Semi 2020 ke Asia Tenggara:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: KLM Business Class Boeing 777-300ER Amsterdam to Jakarta
3. Part II: Yogyakarta
4. Part III: Singapore
5. Part IV: Travel Drama to Hanoi
6. Part V: Hanoi
7. Part VI: Ninh Binh
8. Part VII: Vietnam Airlines Business Class Airbus A350-900 Hanoi to Paris
9. Part VIII: KLM’s new Boeing 737-800 Europe Business Class

Setelah dua minggu lebih sedikit di Asia Tenggara, sudah saatnya untukku kembali ke Eropa. Aku amat excited dengan perjalanan kepulangan ini karena aku akan terbang dengan pesawat Airbus A350-900nya Vietnam Airlines di kelas bisnis! 😍

Seperti biasa, setelah tiketnya aku beli tahun lalu, aku ingin memilih kursiku. Tapi ternyata karena tiketnya aku beli melalui Air France, aku tidak bisa memilih kursi karena sistemnya Air France dan Vietnam Airlines tidak bisa “berkomunikasi” satu sama lain, biarpun kedua maskapai bekerja-sama di beberapa rute dan keduanya juga sama-sama anggota aliansi SkyTeam. Aku mengontak keduanya waktu itu. Agennya Vietnam Airlines berkata ia tidak bisa meng-input kursi pilihanku karena tiketku berkode Air France, dan agennya Air France berkata ia tidak bisa masuk ke sistemnya Vietnam Airlines. Yang bisa agennya Air France lakukan adalah meninggalkan catatan di sistemnya berisikan request-ku yang mana kemudian bisa dibaca oleh agen check-in ketika nantinya check-in di bandara. Aneh juga ya!

Terminal Internasional Bandara Noi Bai di Hanoi

Anyway aku berangkat ke bandara lumayan awal hari ini, karena aku berencana makan dulu di lounge-nya. Awalnya sepertinya aku akan mendapatkan ‘masalah’ karena konter check-in prioritasnya Vietnam Airlines kosong melompong dong, yang mana bagiku aneh mengingat ini kan bandara hub (utama)-nya Vietnam Airlines ya. Ketika aku menanyakan hal ini ke petugas di konter ‘station office‘, dengan kasar ia berkata aku harus menunggu tiga jam sampai konter check-in-nya dibuka. Apa-apaan ini!

Konter check-in Vietnam Airlines yang kosong

Tapi aku lihat ada dua agen yang bertugas di konter check-in kelas ekonomi yang sedang kosong, yang berlokasi persis di sebelah ‘station office’-nya. Jadilah aku iseng dan menghampiri salah satunya, yang mana ternyata agennya baik banget (Petugas ini adalah petugas darat Vietnam Airlines pertama yang baik dan sopan yang aku temui sampai waktu ini) dan menjawab dengan ceria bahwa, tentu saja, aku bisa check-in di situ! Di satu waktu ia bahkan harus pergi ke area check-in kelas bisnis untuk mengambilkan kartu undangan lounge untukku. Oh iya, dan dengan senang hati aku laporkan bahwa catatan yang ditinggalkan agennya Air France ternyata beneran dibaca karena aku mendapatkan kursi yang aku minta πŸ˜€ .

Lotus Lounge-nya Vietnam Airlines

Aku kemudian melalui pemeriksaan imigrasi dan sekuriti, yang mana mulus banget karena beneran hampir sama sekali tidak ada orang loh waktu itu! Aku kemudian mengikuti papan petunjuk untuk menuju Lotus Lounge-nya Vietnam Airlines yang berada di lantai atas gedung terminal ini.

Lotus Lounge-nya Vietnam Airlines

Kesan pertamaku akan lounge-nya adalah: cantik dengan dekorasi-dekorasi kayunya! Lounge-nya juga luas banget (dengan langit-langit yang tinggi) sehingga mudah deh untuk social distancing, haha πŸ˜† . Namun, pilihan makanan dan minumannya biasa aja sih.

Area makanan di Lotus Lounge-nya Vietnam Airlines

Ternyata gerbang penerbanganku ke Paris malam ini persis berada di bawah lounge-nya, jadi nyaman banget dah. Penerbangan hari ini akan dioperasikan dengan Airbus A350-900 dengan rego VN-A898. Aku turun ke gerbangnya sekitar lima menit sebelum jadwal boarding, tetapi boarding-nya baru beneran dimulai sekitar 45 menit setelahnya.

Airbus A350-900 VN-A898nya Vietnam Airlines di Bandara Internasional Noi Bai di Hanoi

Ngomong-ngomong, waktu itu aku yakin banget kabin kelas bisnisnya akan berkonfigurasi bertumpuk (staggered), seperti di Airbus A350-900 barunya Air France. Jadi kebayang dong ya kagetnya aku ketika melihat kabin berkonfigurasi reverse herringbone ketika aku memasuki pesawatnya! 😍 Wii, pertama kali nih aku duduk di konfigurasi begini! Oh iya, yang keren dari kabin kelas bisnisnya Vietnam Airlines adalah mereka tidak memasang tempat bagasi di langit-langit tengah kabinnya, sehingga kabinnya terasa lapang banget!

Kabin kelas bisnis reverse herringbone-nya Vietnam Airlines di pesawat Airbus A350-900

Ketika aku duduk di kursi 2K-ku yang nyaman, aku baru menyadari bahwa, sebagai pecinta kursi jendela pesawat, aku ternyata lebih menyukai konfigurasi bertumpuk karena di kursi jendela reverse herringbone, jendelanya terasa “jauh” gitu dari jangkauan tangan, haha.

Kursi kelas bisnis 2K di Airbus A350-900nya Vietnam Airlines

Amenity kit dan sandal sudah disediakan di kursi. Kursinya juga memiliki dua area tempat penyimpanan barang loh. Satu adalah kabinet mini di samping kursi dimana headphone juga disimpan, dan satu lagi di bagian sisi lorongnya di bawah sandaran tangan yang bisa dinaik/turunkan.

Tempat penyimpanan barang di kursi reverse herringbone-nya Vietnam Airlines

Awak kabin kemudian membagikan minuman pra-keberangkatan. Sebenarnya aku ingin champagne-nya, seperti biasa, tapi kok ternyata mereka juga memiliki jus semangka yang penampilannya cantik dan menarik banget, yang mana kemudian aku pilih, haha. Kupikir-pikir lagi seharusnya aku tetap memilih champange-nya sih, karena jus semangka kan rasanya juga gitu-gitu aja ya, haha πŸ˜› .

Minuman pra-keberangkatan yang penampilannya menarik banget

Setelah boarding selesai dan kami mendapatkan izin berangkat, video peragaan keselamatannya Vietnam Airlines yang cute banget dimainkan melalui layar IFEnya:

Kru kemudian membagikan buku menu untuk penerbangan ini. Kami mencapai landasan pacu 11R dan kemudian lepas landas menuju Eropa. Seperti biasa, setelah lampu tanda kenakan sabuk pengaman dipadamkan, aku melepas sepatuku dan menggantinya dengan sandal agar nyaman.

Sandalnya Vietnam Airlines

Tidak lama setelah lepas landas, seorang pramugara berkeliling kabin untuk mencatat pesanan kami untuk layanan supper, karena jadwal keberangkatan yang memang malam banget. Ada dua pilihan untuk menu pembuka: salmon asap atau udang dengan saus tuna, yang mana salmonnya yang aku pilih. Ada tiga pilihan untuk menu utama: sup mie ala Hue, kerapu rebus dengan nasi, atau pork ribs BBQ. Sebenarnya aku penasaran banget dengan sup mie-nya, tetapi karena aku sudah tahu aku ingin makan pho untuk sarapan nantinya, aku memilih pork ribs-nya deh, haha.

Layanan supper di kelas bisnis Airbus A350-900nya Vietnam Airlines

Menu pembuka kemudian disajikan, yang ternyata hanya terdiri dari tiga sajian kecil salmon asap, yang aku pasangkan dengan cocktail Vietnam Sky. Oh iya ternyata Vietnam Airlines memiliki tiga cocktail khas di penerbangan ini, yang mana tentu saja aku penasaran, haha. Pilihan cocktail lainnya bernama High Mountain dan Saigon Sunlight. Dan ketiganya nampak menarik.

Menu pembuka

Menu utama kemudian disajikan setelah aku selesai dengan menu pembukaku. Dan untungnya menu utama ini memiliki porsi yang ‘masuk akal’ untuk membuatku cukup kenyang, haha. Rasa pork ribs-nya juga enak kok.

BBQ pork ribs

Ngomong-ngomong, entah bagaimana IFEku mulai ngadat di penerbangan ini. Jelas aku kemudian memanggil seorang pramugari untuk bertanya tentangnya. Ia meminta-maaf dan memintaku untuk pindah ke kursi 1K, tapi ternyata IFE di kursi 1K juga memiliki masalah yang sama. Jadilah sistem IFEnya di-restart dan, untungnya, lancar setelahnya.

Ngomongin IFE, di kursi reverse herringbone layar IFEnya mesti di-flip gitu agar enak ditontonnya, haha. Isi IFEnya juga lumayan oke lah dengan beberapa pilihan film menarik. Aku memutuskan untuk menonton The Lion King edisi tahun 2019nya Disney. Pendapat yang cukup kontroversial nih, tapi menurutku animasinya bagus ah, dan aku sungguh menikmatinya! Animasinya “membedakan” film ini dari versi 1994 yang memang legendaris itu.

The Lion King

Setelah selesai makan, aku menggosok gigi dan kemudian sudah waktunya untuk tidur. Ah, hari ini juga telah menjadi hari yang panjang bagiku juga sih sehingga aku juga merasa ngantuk. Jadilah kursinya aku ubah ke posisi lie flat rata, aku memasang penutup mata, dan mendapatkan tidur yang nyenyak selama 6 jam!

Kursinya di mode lie flat

Ketika bangun, aku merasa segar, dimana pesawat sudah berada kira-kira di Rusia barat. Awak kabin kemudian membagikan minuman, dan aku mengambil jus jeruk. Btw, tidak ada layanan handuk hangat di penerbangan ini, yang mana digantikan dengan tisu basah biasa karena situasi COVID-19.

Jus jeruk

Waktunya sarapan kemudian tiba, yang datang dengan tiga pilihan: pho daging sapi, crepes, atau salad kentang dengan ham. Jelas lah ya aku memilih pho-nya, yang mana beneran pas banget untuk sarapan! Dan rasanya tidak mengecewakan lho, enak banget!

Beef pho spesialnya Vietnam Airlines untuk sarapan

Sekitar satu jam setelah sarapan, pesawat mulai turun mendekati Bandara Internasional Charles De Gaulle di Paris. Kami kemudian mendarat mulus di landasan pacu 26L. VN-A898 parkir di Terminal 2E Hall M. Aku turun dari pesawat memasuki dinginnya pagi hari di Paris (yang mana dinginnya cukup menusuk di gabarata), dan berjalan menuju Terminal 2F dari mana penerbangan lanjutanku dengan KLM ke Amsterdam akan diberangkatkan.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. niee says:

    rame gak si ko penerbangannya? Kan ini terakhir terakhir sebelum covid pandemi ya kalau gak salah?

    1. zilko says:

      Yang Hanoi – Paris ini lumayan ramai sih Niee. Keterisian business class-nya sekitar 75% aku perkirakan. Nggak tahu di economy gimana tapi di gate-nya sih ramai juga, haha. Tapi yang dari Singapore ke Vietnamnya memang sepi banget! Dari yang seharusnya sehari empat kali diturunin jadi satu kali aja, itu pun cuma terisi nggak sampai separuh! Hahaha πŸ˜†

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