The midpoint of my Around The World In A Weekend adventure was back in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam. I arrived back in Vietnam after a series of Qatar Airways business class flights.
The first flight of my trip was on the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 from Chicago to Doha. Next, I spent nearly 10 hours in the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge in Doha. After that I took yet another Qatar Airways A330 Business Class flight from Doha to Ho Chi Minh. As I reviewed the Al Mourjan Lounge and the Qatar Airways A330 Business Class flight in my Qatar Airways Mileage Run trip report I figured I’d skip those reviews as not much changed in the week that passed between trips. So I’ll resume this trip report from the Ho Chi Minh airport.
Arriving At Ho Chi Mihn Vietnam Airport
Since my 30 day multiple entry Vietnam visa was still valid I decided to leave the airport for an hour or two during my layover. During my very short time in Vietnam I made a point to sample some authentic Vietnamese food.
After a quick bite to eat I decided to go back into the airport and check-in to my flight to Hong Kong.
As I entered the airport I discovered the check-in counters did not open for my flight until 4:45PM (3 hours prior to departure). Since I still had about an hour to kill I decided to explore the upper level food court of the airport.
The upper level of the arrivals hall offered great views of the check-in counters below. The upstairs food hall was quite crowded and it was hard to find an available place to sit.
After exploring the upstairs I decided to head back downstairs to find an open bench to wait. As I walked around the arrivals hall I eventually found an empty seat near the gigantic glass wall located at the West end of the hall.
As I sat here watching clouds form over the airport the sky gradually became darker. It became clear a thunderstorm was on its way which would end up wreaking havoc on the airport and my flight.
Checking In To My Cathay Pacific Economy Class Flight
At approximately 4:30PM I got up from my seat and walked over toward the Cathay Pacific check-in desks. When I arrived I discovered a very long line for economy class customers. Luckily, since I maintain OneWorld Emerald status from my American Airlines Executive Platinum status I was able to use the priority check-in lanes.
The Marco Polo Club check-in lane was significantly shorter than the economy class lanes.
At approximately 4:45PM a group of contract gate agents emerged from the enclosed office to begin opening the check-in desks. A few moments later all of the agents stepped out from behind the counters, bowed toward the passengers, and retreated behind the desk to handle customer check-in duties.
Delayed Flight Due To Severe Weather
As I checked into the flight the check-in agent handed me a boarding pass and a lounge invitation. Since I maintain OneWorld Emerald status the check-in agent handed me a lounge invitation to use “The Rose” Business Lounge.
After making my way through security I proceeded to the lounge to relax during the 2 hour (scheduled) wait. As I waited in the lounge the sky grew continuously darker. Eventually flashes of lighting began filling the skies quickly followed by loud thunder. A huge thunderstorm rolled through the airport at approximately 6:00PM. The storm forced all inbound planes to divert to nearby airports in Cambodia.
As a result of the storms our flight, scheduled to depart at 7:45PM, ended up with a delayed departure of 10:00PM. This was terrible news because I was on Chicago time and 10:00PM in Vietnam is 10:00AM in Chicago. Our flight didn’t end up leaving until much closer to 11:00PM. At that point I had been awake for nearly 36 hours and I was ready for some much-needed rest.
Cathay Pacific Economy Class Boarding Process
At approximately 10:00PM the Airbus A330 that would take me to Hong Kong finally arrived. It took the ground staff about 30-40 minutes to service the aircraft. Finally at 10:50PM the gate agents made an initial boarding announcement to welcome passengers to the flight and apologize for the delay.
After the initial boarding announcement I made my way to the jet bridge door since I had early boarding thanks to my OneWorld Emerald elite status. I typically don’t line up early for a flight, but I was so exhausted all I could think about was getting in my seat and shutting my eyes.
Similar to the check-in area there were separate boarding lanes for Marco Polo Club elite members and business class passengers.
Shortly before 11:00PM the gate agent scanned my boarding card and I proceeded down the jet bridge through the L2 boarding door.
The L2 boarding door separates the business class cabin. As I boarded the aircraft I had to pass through the second half of the business class cabin to find my seat. It was a subtle reminder that the days of business class travel were over and I was once again flying economy. That being said, the business class cabin was quite nice.
Cathay Pacific A330 Economy Class Cabin
The economy class cabin was surprisingly colorful. Half of the seats of each section were covered in blue upholstery while the others were grey.
The Cathay Pacific A330 economy class cabin features 18-inch wide seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. I chose to sit in seat 48A (pictured below) for the short 2.5 hour flight to Hong Kong.
Each seat in the economy class cabin featured a seat-back entertainment screen which displayed flight information when boarding.
As I took my seat the seat-back screen changed to display connecting flight information, well sort of.
In addition to the in-flight entertainment screen each seat also featured a USB port, a clothing hook, a small storage shelf, a tray table, and a pop-out cupholder. There were also two 110V power outlets located under each seat. A very welcomed feature as I was able to charge two devices at once while in the seat. Overall the seat was well padded and very comfortable for the short flight.
Cathay Pacific Economy Class Meal Service
For the 2.5 hour flight I wasn’t expecting a full meal service, but shortly after takeoff the flight attendants requested everyone remain seated for the dinner service. A few minutes later a flight attendant stopped by my seat to drop off my in-flight dinner.
I wasn’t exactly hungry when the meal arrived, but I ended up eating everything in front of me. The main dish was surprisingly tasty and who doesn’t love fresh fruit and ice cream.
Since the flight was just 2.5 hours the meal service went quickly. Just a few minutes after the flight attendants finished delivering the meals to the rear of the aircraft they came to the front of the cabin to begin collecting service items. I was utterly exhausted at this point so I ended up falling asleep before the flight attendant reached my seat. When I woke up my finished meal tray was gone and tray table stowed.
Arriving In Hong Kong
After an extremely quick two and a quarter hours we began our decent into Hong Kong. As we descended into Hong Kong we entered a dense fog which didn’t let up until we were just a few hundred feet from the ground. I was hoping to get a view of the city as we landed, but the fog prevented that from happening.
After landing in Hong Kong we taxied to the main terminal. Once we parked at the gate nearly every passengers got out of their seats to get off the aircraft. Clearly with the late arrival everyone on board wanted to get off the aircraft as quickly as possible. I instead waited in my seat until the aisles were clear as I didn’t feel a need to get into the airport early just to wait several hours for my next flight.
Once off the aircraft I made my way to the transit desk and security checkpoint. I was one of a few passengers transiting at that hour so this process took just a few minutes. After passing through transit security I found myself in the empty and extremely quite Hong Kong airport terminal.
This was my first flight ever with Cathay Pacific, but I was overall quite impressed. The entire cabin crew was extremely warm and welcoming throughout the flight. Considering the flight was so short and the cabin was full they moved incredibly quickly too. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced such a quick in-flight meal service before.
While the flight was overall enjoyable, two specific things stuck out. First, because of the meal service, the lights remained on for nearly the entire of the flight. However, I guess this would have been more typical for a 7PM departure.
The second thing that stuck out about this flight was that the cabin crew required all passengers to unplug electronic devices for takeoff and landing. This by no means affected my impression of the flight, but was rather something I found interesting. I guess I just don’t really understand why it was so important that my phone was not plugged in for takeoff and landing.
All in all, the flight was great. I would have preferred it if the flight left at 7PM as planned, but delays happen. Considering this was the only delayed flight of more than 10 flights in as many days, I can’t really complain.