We were delighted to be invited to Vietnam Airlines inaugural Dreamliner launch from London Heathrow today. It gave us the opportunity to see the carrier’s new 787-9 up close and personal on stand at Terminal 4 before its flight back to Vietnam.


On the outside, Vietnam Airlines’ 787 has a fantastic colour to it, and the livery seems iridescent to a certain degree. This by far is one of the best 787 liveries out there right now.


On entering the L1 door, you are greeted by an impressive business class cabin featuring 28 of the Zodiac Cirrus III seats. The cabin features a neutral fern, moss and yellow colour scheme, and the seats feature a traditional vietnamese flower motif embroidered into the seats. The cabin, with its seven rows of 1 x 2 x 1 seating, ensures every passenger has aisle access.


Unlike some carriers, this seat model is fairly basic, and it doesn’t feature the door on the headphones cabinet, which acts as a divider for increased privacy in certain carriers. The hand controller also isn’t the high tech Panasonic ex3 system that most carriers offer.


That said, the hard product is solid, reliable, and proven. There is plenty comfort to go around. With ample storage for passengers, including side storage both by the seat itself and in the footwell.


There are also USB charging ports and power sockets in every seat, along with an impressive IFE Screen that like all cirrus seats, pops out at the touch of a button to face the passenger.


The bed when fully deployed is both comfortable and long enough to cater for even the tallest of passengers, and for added privacy the arm rest can be raised, to help aid sleep and reduce the chance of being woken by someone walking past the aisle.


The Business Class Big Picture

In premium economy, which is a step up from the carriers previous ‘economy comfort’ product, passengers will be blown away by not only the amount of personal space, but the deep recline and comfortable wide seats on offer.


Not happy with just 38″, passengers will experience an industry leading 42″ seat pitch in a 2 x 3 x 2 configuration. The seats feature a deep 7″ recline and a leg rest in every seat. Whilst bulkhead seats don’t have one, all other seats also have a fold down foot rest. These seats are well padded and would be easy to fall asleep in.


Each seat has a large, HD touchscreen that comes from the arm rest which means that passengers reclining their seats won’t interfere with your viewing pleasure. The screens are solid and unlike older generation seats, won’t have the issue of slowly falling to the floor as the flight progresses.


The cabin is very intimate, with only 35 seats in the cabin, and it also has two toilets dedicated to the premium economy passengers, situated at the front.

Premium Economy Big Picture

In economy, passengers, whilst in a tighter 3 x 3 x 3 configuration (pretty standard now) will also have a huge upgrade compared to the previous incarnation, which excellent 10.6 touchscreen IFE screens, a deeper 6″ recline and 32″ seat pitch.


The seats also benefit from USB charging, power outlets (two per 3 seats) and obviously the mood lighting, reduced cabin pressure and state-of-the-art-play-with-the-window windows.


The best seats in the house are definitely the bulkhead seats (of which there are two sets) although the window seats will not have as much leg room as the aisle or middles seats due to the evacuation slide on the emergency doors.


However, our small bug bear is the controller on the arm rest, which is very sensitive, and may mean inadvertent cabin crew calling, disco light scenarios or channel changing as people shift around to get some shut eye. The shut eye however, made all the better by the pillows and blankets on offer for every passenger.


Generally speaking the economy cabin is very smart, and whilst not as miraculous as the more premium cabins upfront, will help put the carrier on the right steps towards earning the 4-star recognition it is actively seeking.

Economy Class Big Picture

All in all, we are very impressed with Vietnam Airlines new 787 product which has already started service as of today between Ho Chi Minh /Hanoi and London’s Heathrow airport. The good news is the carrier is planning on becoming daily on the Vietnam to UK routes by 2016, offering more passengers more choice and very affordable products. The carrier also announced it is planning on introducing inflight WiFi and SMS connectivity in the near future.

Posted by:Jonny Clark

16 replies on “TheDesignAir’s Exclusive Look At Vietnam Airlines 787-9

  1. I like the business class design with reverse herringbone seating i think it’s better than staggered aisle access business class in their A350 because it gives more privacy and storage

  2. I don’t think you’re nearly critical enough….that premium economy looks shocking! I agree with above, very Soviet! And judging from the images the economy seats are the narrowest available, instead opting for a wide aisle which some will like but considering the long flight lengths this is unwise. Also that armrest controller is really ridiculous oversight. As they have clearly chosen basic catalogue options for both the A350 and the 787, I doubt Vietnam have a proper department looking at interiors anyway.

    1. Thanks, usually we don’t reply, however these premium economy seats are perhaps one of the most comfortable we’ve sat in, beating Virgin Atlantic or British Airways hands down, and with 42″ seat pitch are generously spaced out. No need to be critical in a very good product.

      1. I agree with Jonny. I already sat in the premium economy seat on VN’s 787. It was very comfortable, just like regional business class on VN’s Airbus A321. One more thing, I don’t think Vietnam is a so-called “third world poor country” and even so, it doesn’t affect the quality of an emerging airline that moving toward the goal of a 4-star airline. Finally, VN is much better than many airlines in Europe and US, seriously!

  3. Obviously cheaped out but we’re talking about a poor third world so called socialist country here so it’s probably all they could afford. I shudder to think what the c-class food will be like. Probably better to fly into Singapore or Bangkok on another carrier and then take the funal short hop to Hanoi or Saigon.

  4. I agree with several of the above posters that Vietnam Airlines’ 787-9 interior colors appear to be rather icky, particularly the baby-poo hue chosen for the business class seats. As if they weren’t bad enough, they’ve been paired with pale yellow (I won’t continue with the diaper-related color references – though I could) pillows and blankets. All in all, what a depressing environment in which to spend a night. *I* may look awful when awakening after flying all night, but I don’t want the airplane interior to match my sallow skin!

    Regarding economy class, I completely agree with Josef Richter’s assessment, as I’m sure I sat in those same seats aboard an Aeroflot IL-62, back in the 70’s.

    Thanks, I’ll stick to Cathay.

  5. Thank you for your thoughts. The fact that I would not find myself sitting next to you sounds like another very good reason to fly VN.

  6. Let’s see people… “poo” color scheme?
    Perhaps you should check the livery of Vietnam Airlines too see WHY they chose those colors.
    I guess what’s obvious and basic for some is unexplainable for others.
    I was impressed by the Premium Economy. 42″?!? Wow, that’s impressive. The Business looks alright, I just don’t like the “cubicle” feeling of it.

    And for the ignorant comments about Vietnam being a third world country. They are flying the 777 and 787. Not long ago Northwest was still flying the DC9-32 and American the MD82. And they are from a first world country.

  7. As a regular long haul flyer (Bus Class) from U K to Australia this is my first flight with VN Air and I have to say by far superior to the majority of EU airlines inc BA in comfort and service that I have experienced.

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