Skip to main content

Is it just me or is the signage to the International Departures Terminal at Sydney Kingsford Smith airport absolutely appalling?

I have always thought it must leave a terrible last impression with visitors to our shores. I must write to the City of Sydney about it sometime. It upsets me intensely.

Yet again, on my most recent attempt to drive to the airport, park and check-in to an international flight in plenty of time, I saw no signage whatsoever.

I found myself stuck in the wrong lane, missed my turning and got myself into a frightful state trying to negotiate the maze that is Sydney Kingsford Smith, before finally finding a parking space and rushing to check-in in the foulest of moods. But then, something quite extraordinary happened.

I was greeted at the Vietjet check-in desk by the most delightful young lady I have ever met in my life who, despite my foul mood, proceeded to calm me down within an instant with a smile as big as China and a humility, kindness and professionalism that I have not experienced in a long, long while.

It was totally disarming and an indication of the care and kindness I was about to experience on one of the most enjoyable business class flight experiences you can imagine.

Vietjet use their fleet of A330’s for international flights and with only 12 business class seats on the aircraft numbers are minimal, which also resulted in the small group of travel journalists I was flying with not only being well-looked after by this lady but hardly having to queue.

No complaints from me, which is saying something since my wife tells me I am getting increasingly like a “Karen” these days.

Vietjet made its Australian debut in April 2023 and has expanded rapidly, connecting most major cities to Ho Chi Minh. The introduction of the Hanoi service will see the airline’s footprint grow to more than 60 flights per week.

However, the 10-hour flights do present an interesting conundrum for passengers. Is it worth investing in the $1,700 (approx.) additional fare for business class (one-way) to arrive refreshed in one of Asia’s most fascinating and enriching of countries?

Certainly the smooth check-in process indicated that it would be. What’s more, it was gratifying to have the entitlement of 60kg of checked baggage as well as 18kg of carry-on luggage.

Having checked-in and made our way through the departure gate, we headed to the pay-to-lounge that Vietjet business passengers are entitled to.

In Sydney, we had access to ‘The House’, a spacious lounge that we found to be very stylish and the perfect space to relax and log on.

There were ample USB ports and fast Wi-Fi, while the excellent working spaces were complimented by comfortable armchairs as well as a good selection of hot and cold food and a fully stocked bar.

Onboard we had been promised that we could look forward to a private, comfortable business class cabin with angled and spacious leather chair flatbeds. Having been greeted by our delightful crew and shown to our seats we were not to be disappointed.

The 12 seats have been configured in two rows of six (2 x 2 x 2), which provide excellent space and privacy. The seats do not have a USB port and it’s worth noting that there is no in-flight entertainment, so be mindful to download a couple of movies or take a good book.

The two crew members said they would be looking after us for the entire flight. Now maybe it’s me but I do find it important that some thought has gone into the design of a crew’s uniform and goodness – what a fashion statement the Vietjet uniform is!

Plaid shorts are complimented by smart, stylish red T-shirts, bow ties, accessories such as flying wings, badges, brown belts and red shoes. Best of all, the uniform is finished off with a small plaid hat which is not too dissimilar to the one worn by the pilots on Thunderbirds.

Being a massive geek and a huge Gerry Anderson fan, this was my type of flight! The uniform won “Asia’s Best Flight Attendant Wardrobe” award in 2018 and was imagined by a top European designer, based on army cadet uniforms.

A charming stewardess called Lan introduced herself and presented me with the menu for the flight and a ‘goodie’ bag which included a nice passport and travel wallet, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks and the Vietjet mascot – a small cuddly teddy bear.

The menu was extensive and the culinary experience a highlight of the flight. A variety of main dishes such as chicken vermicelli noodles, Vietnamese bread, prime pho and grilled fish fillet were complemented by appetisers, croissants with soft rolls and butter, and some truly irresistible desserts.

I chose a coconut jelly pudding and fresh fruit which frankly I thought would not be out of place in a hatted restaurant in Sydney.

The drinks menu was also extensive, featuring golden flower sticky rice wine, fine Portuguese red wine, sake with gold flakes and various cocktails. There was a surprising lack of white wine, but we found this to be standard in a number of establishments throughout Vietnam.

The Vietnamese pure filtered coffee proved excellent and even re-introduced me to the joy of evaporated milk. Meanwhile the finger plate of assorted cheese, nuts, dried fruit and crackers was inspired.

Somewhat exhausted after the trauma of my drive to the airport, I decided to have a nap. The chair reclined easily to a complete, horizontal position while there was also a convenient leg extension.

A second meal during the flight proved as delightful as the first and Lan was always on hand for any drinks or other requests.

All of us were to arrive in Vietnam refreshed and in the right state of mind to enjoy the delights of the next few days.