Tag Archives: economy

SEA 2014: Vietnam Airlines Economy Class Hanoi to Siem Reap (HAN to REP)

To get from Hanoi to Siem Reap, we booked a flight on Vietnam Airlines. I had tried and failed to book award tickets for this segment using FlyingBlue miles, but the online award search tool kept wanting to route us through Guangzhou on China Southern instead of the nonstop on Vietnam Airlines, even though I was 98% sure that the Vietnam Airlines flight had award space available. So in the end, we paid cash and did some throwaway ticketing and booked roundtrip flights between HAN and REP because it was cheaper, even though we weren’t going to return to Hanoi.

The Hanoi airport offers free wifi, which is great, but there were long check-in queues for Vietnam Airlines, so leave plenty of time for that if you don’t have SkyTeam status (I had also tried and failed to get a status match to a SkyTeam airline). The terminal was also kept pretty warm, and the lounges were located on the upper floor, which was even warmer, so also be prepared for that.

Vietnam Airlines A321 to take us to REP

Vietnam Airlines A321 to take us to REP

The flight ended up being less than half full. Business class looked just like US domestic business class.

Aircraft cabin with glimpse of business class

Aircraft cabin with glimpse of business class

Economy class seats

Economy class seats

To the back of the bus for us

To the back of the bus for us

We had checked in online, and I had selected seat 16D, which showed as having no seat in front of it on the seat map. In reality, there’s a jump seat in front of this seat, which is not quite the same as not having a seat in front of you.

Jump seat in front of my seat

Jump seat in front of my seat

Row 14 also isn’t a true exit row, so if you’re looking for extra space in economy, choose row 15 (assuming you have the same aircraft configuration). For what it’s worth, there were a lot of seats showing as blocked online when I was selecting seats that weren’t actually occupied, so you could also try changing at the check-in counter or at the gate.

Good pitch in exit row

Good pitch in exit row

We were served a small meal of coleslaw, mystery meats, cucumbers, bread, and dessert. I only touched the dessert (we had brought some banh mi to the airport as snacks–why can’t airlines just serve banh mi? so cheap and delicious, and they keep decently well), which was decently tasty. It was a generic, sweet cake, maybe with a hint of coconut.

"Meal" that was served on this short flight

“Meal” that was served on this short flight

The in-flight entertainment was some sort of funny home video show, which I found amusing, and I found it interesting that the in-flight announcements were made in Vietnamese, English, French, Korean, and Japanese. The first three make sense to me; the last two less so.

Overall, it was a quick and comfortable flight. I’d be happy to fly Vietnam Airlines again, although I don’t plan on flying SkyTeam unless I have to.

Thailand 2014: Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok (USM to BKK)

Introduction
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Cooking with Poo
Overnight Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui
Conrad Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge Bangkok
EVA Air Evergreen Lounge Bangkok
Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge Bangkok
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong
Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul to New York
United Airlines Business Class PS Service New York to San Francisco


Koh Samui has one of the coolest airports that I’ve been to. It feels like a resort, with almost everything being outdoors. Of course, the flip side of this is that it can be extremely hot and humid if your flight is departing in the middle of the day, but hopefully you’re somewhat adjusted to the temperatures by the time you’re leaving Koh Samui.

Koh Samui airport

Koh Samui airport

One tip if you’re flying Bangkok Airways is to make sure that you check-in online prior to your flight. It doesn’t matter if you can’t print out your boarding passes or you need to check in bags, but if you check-in online prior to arrival at the airport, you can skip the normally lengthy economy class line and use the much shorter (i.e. non-existent) online checkin line.

Security is a breeze, and you can actually go through customs at Koh Samui even if you’re just on a domestic flight depending on your itinerary (make sure to keep the sticker they give you!). The gates are all open air and because Bangkok Airways is a “boutique” airline, there’s free snacks, drinks, and wifi for all passengers. This gives the whole thing a much more civilized feel, where even economy passengers get decent amenities. Again, one potential downside to the open-air concept is that there are mosquitos, so don’t think that you can abandon your bug spray even though you’re at an airport.

Bangkok Airways waiting area

Bangkok Airways waiting area

Seating in the waiting area

Seating in the waiting area

Food options

Food options, including some attempts at authentic Thai snacks

More food options

More food options

To get to the plane, you take a tram, which adds to the whole resort feel. I enjoy the trams because they allow for better close-ups of the planes.

Walking up to the plane

Walking up to the plane

On board, the flight was unremarkable, which is how I like my economy class travel. Of course, since this is a foreign airline, they serve a meal on a 50-minute flight, and they even cater special meals. Given how short the flight was, they served cold meals, and neither my VGML or my friend’s normal meal was appetizing. Both of us picked at the fruit and left the rest uneaten.

All economy seating

All economy seating

VGML

VGML

Normal meal

Normal meal

Bangkok Airways dominates flights to/from USM, but at least their product is decent and they try to provide amenities to all passengers, so you don’t feel completely gouged by their monopolistic prices. I’d happily fly them again, and in many cases, flying is much more practical than any other form of transport in Thailand.

Review: ANA Economy Class NRT to SEA on Boeing 787

When I went to scan my boarding pass to get on this flight, the machine angrily beeped at me, as I was supposedly pre-chosen to have a pat down prior to boarding. As far as I could tell, there were only three names on this list of passengers to get extra security.

I had called a couple of months prior to the flight to pre-select a seat, and I’m very glad that I did. The 787 that I flew had a three-class configuration of business, premium economy, and economy, and I was seated in 20C, or the exit row aisle.

ANA 787 Seat Map

ANA 787 Seat Map

For this configuration, 20BCHJ are definitely the best seats in economy. Because of the exit row, there’s nearly limitless legroom (okay, maybe not quite as much as the unlimited leg room on row 9 of the old UA 757 planes, but it’s plenty of legroom). The window seats aren’t ideal as the exit door slightly encroaches on the space of the window seat (not as egregious as the window exit row seats on UA’s 747 in economy), but if you value leg room over seat width, you should still consider the exit row window. My rowmate in the window seat started complaining to the flight attendant about his slightly encroached space because of the exit door and loudly proclaimed that he had the worst seat in the whole plane and should be given a seat in the premium economy section because of his Star Gold status. Needless to say, he did not get very far with the flight attendant.

Exit row seats

Exit row seats

Walking through the plane, business class and premium economy had very, very light loads, while economy was almost completely full. But it was a little shocking to see how small the economy section of this plane is. Since half of the plane is dedicated to business class and there’s also a premium economy section, the economy section seems tiny compared to any other wide-body jet I’ve been on.

The middle bathroom in the economy section is quite spacious, and should definitely be your first choice of bathroom if you’re seated in economy or premium economy. The bathrooms featured toilets with advanced functionality, as is common in Japan.

Spacious for an airplane lavatory

Spacious for an airplane lavatory considering that I can take this picture

Service was good and attentive for coach, and I pre-ordered VGML meals for this flight. The first meal was some sort of veggie patty with rice, while the second meal was spaghetti with a red sauce. Both were unremarkable but not bad.

VGML #1 on ANA

VGML #1 on ANA

VGML #2

VGML #2 on ANA

The real “fun” on the flight came upon landing. We had made good time and the captain said that we were going to arrive in Seattle about 30 minutes early. Well, we get to Seattle, and the captain then says that we need to go into a holding pattern since there’s heavy fog at Seatac airport. After holding for an hour, the captain says that we need to divert to Portland to refuel.

So we land in Portland, and we’re sitting on the tarmac, and no one knows what’s going on. We sit on the tarmac for about 2 hours, and the flight attendants are trying to do their best to provide people with snacks and water, but there just isn’t much food left on the plane (which is why I was super glad to have taken some onigiri from the Korean Air lounge in Narita). Then, the captain announces that there’s a maintenance issue and that they need to fly a mechanic down from Seattle since no one in Portland can work on this plane, and it’ll take 2 hours for the mechanic to arrive in Portland.

At this point, I think they realize that they need to let everyone off the plane lest they get fined for leaving passengers stranded on the tarmac, so we end up “clearing” customs and immigration at Portland, but none of the checked bags come off the plane, so it’s not really going through customs. They tell us to be back at a certain gate in about 2 hours, so I head off to the Alaska Air Board Room in Portland to grab a snack and wait it out.

Finally, I head back to the gate at the prescribed time, and the maintenance issue has apparently been fixed but they never refueled the plane, so we still had to wait for that. And then they finally bussed us all out to the middle of the tarmac where our plane was waiting, we get on the plane, and we fly the 30 minutes or so up to Seattle. It ends up being a 7-hour delay, and when we get off the plane in Seattle, we don’t go through customs.

Gorgeous day in Portland, but ANA's 787 shouldn't be there

Gorgeous day in Portland, but ANA’s 787 shouldn’t be there

Anyway, the 7-hour delay on Thanksgiving wasn’t ideal, and ANA doesn’t really seem to handle irrops very well in terms of communication with passengers and compensation (i.e. there is no compensation for a maintenance delay), but the in-flight service is good, and I personally enjoy the 787 (well, maybe not so much if they’re prone to maintenance issues). My sinuses feel less dried out after spending a long time on a 787 than on other jets, and I like the oversized windows.

Review: ANA Economy Class HKG to NRT on 767-300

As I was traveling over the week of Thanksgiving and wanted to spend Thanksgiving itself with my family in Seattle, I needed to fly from Hong Kong to Seattle. This gave me a good excuse to route through Tokyo Narita to fly ANA’s 787 between NRT and SEA, as my only other time aboard a 787 was a very short hop between Doha and Dubai on Qatar in business class (sold as first class).

My first segment from HKG to NRT was originally supposed to be on United, but they decided to cancel that route shortly before I was supposed to fly it. Of course, they didn’t notify me of this cancellation, so I had to call in to be rebooked on an ANA flight.

The ANA flight was operated by a 767-300, and I had recently flown this plane in business class between NRT and PEK. I was seated in the smaller forward cabin of economy class, and the first thing I noticed was the ample leg room. Because the seats have a hardshell that don’t recline (you recline by having your seat cushion move forward rather than your seat back move back), they have quite a bit of leg room when the seat isn’t reclined.

Economy seat with a hard shell

Economy seat with a hard shell

Each economy seat also has a personal screen for in-flight entertainment, and the options were identical between economy class and business class. The selection isn’t super extensive, but it’s perfectly adequate for a flight of this length (about 3.5 hours).

In-flight entertainment

In-flight entertainment

They served a meal and had a Japanese and a western choice, and I went with the Japanese meal, which was some sort of beef dish with rice. The food was okay, not great, but I admired the number of different things on the tray.

Japanese meal

Japanese meal

The service was very attentive, and I honestly felt that this flight in regional economy was better than most domestic first class trips I take in the US. You might not have as much personal space, but the service is superior, they feed you on a relatively short flight, and there’s personal IFE on demand. But mostly, it’s just that the flight attendants make you feel welcome and that they enjoy being there, which can be very hit-or-miss with some domestic crews.