Travel Diaries: United Kingdom (Part 2)
MR1/T8702: From Hanoi to Nanning by International Sleeper Train operated by Vietnam Railways and China Railway
Birmingham German Market
The new train lines that could transform how you travel
Trains in Italy - To Cinque Terre
Palembang LRT: Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport to DJKA by Train
Trains in Italy - To Rome!
Kota Kinabalu Airport Bus: Kota Kinabalu International Airport to Centre Point and Padang Merdeka by Express Bus
KRDE Minangkabau Express : Minangkabau International Airport to Padang (Simpang Haru) by Train
Cleaning house: assessing air quality at enclosed rail stations
VietJet Air is a Vietnamese low-cost carrier with one of the youngest fleets in the world. The VietJet Air VJ811 flight departing at 9.00am was the cheapest option of the day, so reminding myself that I was in Ho Chi Minh City for the sole purpose of using the airport to fly back home and not pay a ridiculous fare to fly from Phnom Penh instead, it was pretty easy to convince myself to wake up early.
This is also my first flight with VietJet Air, so let’s see how this goes.
The departure board at the entrance doesn’t seem sufficient to include flights for the next 2 hours.
To enter the check-in area, show your itinerary to the security personnel at the door. Or if you look the part of a traveller with bags and all, they may just let you in without questions.
Self check-in kiosks are available just after the entrance, but unfortunately, this facility was not used for VietJet Air. A bit inconvenient for passengers without check-in luggage like me who still need to queue at a manned check-in counter.
VietJet Air operates at Row E for all flights. Look at that wonderful crowd.
The SkyBoss queue was empty, but I wasn’t going to pay for that premium ticket.
Luckily, there was a dedicated counter for VJ811 at the end of the row.
While there was still a line, at least it was neater and less confusing than the cluster of people at the common check-in counters down the middle.
After 45 minutes of fruitful queuing with everyone in front of me having check-in bags (sigh.), I finally got my boarding pass, leaving me with just about an hour to spare before the flight departure. But even though I had no bags and had already pre-purchased my seat, it still took about 3 minutes to retrieve my boarding pass. Hmm.
Heading for immigration with a single queue in place for all counters. VietJet Air should adopt this queue system for their check-in row instead of the free-for-all system where you have to pick your lucky counter.
If you’re coming from ASEAN countries, do yourself a favour and queue at the ASEAN Lane as all of us won’t need visas there and the processing time is slightly faster.
Once immigration is done, proceed for security screening. This is the first and final security check before you board your flight.
My flight was departing from Gate 10, so it’s a left turn after security screening.
There are some duty-free shops around the middle of the terminal, but not that I can afford anything since I’m using VietJet Air and not my private jet.
Hmm… Gates 10 to 14 are down the escalator. Why am I getting this strange sense of disappointment.
Seems like a bulk of VietJet Air flights operate from this cluster of gates too.
This could only mean one thing.
Yup, Gates 10 – 14 are bus gates. Sigh.
Queuing up to board my bus back to Singapore to my plane.
The shrunk VJ811 without wings.
Boarding passes were checked just before boarding the bus. The bigger portion of the boarding pass was taken away unfortunately, which leaves me with just a little stub.
The bus was already crowded enough, with the ground staff still trying to fit people in.
The interior of the bus to my plane. Feels like riding the MRT during the morning peak hours.
Heading off to the domestic terminal side.
The bus continued all the way straight to the end of the road, passing by the whole domestic terminal.
Getting off the bus to the plane.
The emptied out interior of the bus.
Since I was seated at Row 12, I headed to the front door to board the aircraft.
If you’re seated towards the rear, you can board via the rear door as well.
Boarding my VJ811 flight at the Tan Son Nhat Cargo Terminal.
Rows 1 and 2 are usually blocked for SkyBoss customers. Row 1 does offer more legroom than the usual seats.
But that’s not good enough for me. Let me show you how to SkyBoss on a budget.
Row 2 does not really offer a premium legroom. Avoid this if you’re travelling on SkyBoss.
Seated in my comfy seat. Notice the distance between me and the seat in front of me?
That’s right – I have purchased for myself an unlimited legroom seat.
My seat, 12A, is located just after the emergency exit door. And since this is a full-fledged door on the Airbus A321, there is no seat just beside the door to facilitate the opening of it (hence the unlimited legroom), I have a personal window since I’m seated after the door, and a generous legroom space at Row 11 for the emergency exit aisle means that I do get direct aisle access as well via Row 11.
SkyBoss’s Row 1 legroom is nothing compared to this.
(Do note that my seat has no recline due to the emergency exit, but who cares when I could just slouch as much as I wanted.)
Of course, this trade off means that I’m responsible for everyone’s lives in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Stretching out really comfortable in my seat.
A short while after, a second smaller bus with another batch of passengers pulled up. Maybe I should have just waited for this bus instead of squeezing in the initial bigger bus.
The small crowd boarding the plane.
Once boarding has been completed, the bus and mobile stairs went off and my plane can finally be on the way to Singapore.
Pushing back into the taxiway from Tan Son Nhat Cargo Terminal.
Lots of other Vietjet Air planes parked at remote bays around.
Was quite lucky to spot VietJet Air’s newest Airbus A321, VN-A657, bearing the official logo for the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and France.
Taxiing to the runway, passing by the international terminal again.
Lining up on the runway.
Taking off from Tan Son Nhat International Airport with the view of the very populated Ho Chi Minh City.
Stretching out really comfortably in my seat.
Flying over the Vam Co Tay River.
Flying over the Mekong River near Can Tho.
I pre-booked myself a Fried Rice for breakfast since it was an early flight and my hostel didn’t offer breakfast for the stay. My pre-booked meal was served first, just shortly after the seat belt signs were switched off.
It turned out to be a Thai-style Fried Rice. Pretty tasty, with lots of ingredients as well.
The washroom on board was pretty clean and well stocked with paper towels.
Descending into Changi Airport from the north over Malaysia.
Crossing from Pulau Tekong to mainland Singapore.
The landing in Changi Airport was really smooth. Didn’t even realise that the plane was on the ground until the interior of the plane shook a little more than usual.
Heading to Terminal 4.
Crossing over Airport Boulevard via South Cross.
Turning into Terminal 4.
Turning into Gate G9.
Parked beside the new SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX 8. Seems like narrow-body aircraft from airlines operating out of Terminal 2 are parked in Terminal 4 nowadays.
Preparing to disembark.
Back at Terminal 4, and the completion of the trial run of departing from another airport but flying back into Singapore directly. This actually worked out pretty well – great way to avoid the airport tax hike from 1 July 2018 onwards.
Vietnam Airlines VN651 on the same route from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore just trailing 10 minutes behind arrived as well.
Heading down for immigration.
The welcoming arrival immigration area with the Petalclouds “fluttering” above.
With no baggage, I could proceed straight out of the baggage reclaim area through customs.
From Terminal 4, I got on a bus to the Downtown Line instead of heading back to Terminal 2 to get on the MRT.
Overall, VietJet Air, in particular, Seat 12A on the Airbus A321-200, is a really comfortable way to fly on a budget, offering even more space than paying the premium SkyBoss fare. The crew were friendly towards every passenger, greeting everyone who came on board and disembarked – something not every airline does consistently, low-cost or otherwise – and were generally friendly and patient during the in-flight sales too.
If I’m going to Vietnam again, VietJet Air would definitely be one of the airlines I could pick in a heartbeat.
This article first appeared on railtravelstation.com
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