When flying on Vietnam Airlines Airlines, is it worth paying to upgrade to Premium Economy from Economy seats on long-haul flights?
Vietnam Airlines Airlines is one of the best Premium Economy airlines in the world with exclusive and spacious cabins. Seats are wider with generous recline. Legroom is increased and you also have your own adjustable footrests.
1. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Price
If the price is your biggest factor when making the decision on which class to fly in, you should probably choose to fly Economy. After all, the entire plane will get to its destination, whichever class you are sitting in.
The problem is, for overnight flights, being stuffed in a sardine-tin, with little space to move and next-to-no recline means that sleep is difficult.
Certainly, when I have flown in Economy, if I do manage to nod off, the fact that my head then drops to one side because of the lack of seat recline, means that I almost always wake myself up.
The result is that you can feel pretty grotty after an Economy flight when you get to your destination. This means that you are potentially ruining the first day of your trip, because you have not spent the extra on upgrading your flight.
So even if the price IS your biggest factor, Premium Economy can mean that you avoid wasting a day of your holiday which may ultimately be worth more than the price difference.
Premium Economy is also significantly cheaper than flying in Business Class, usually 65% less expensive than a Business Class fare.
How much extra is Premium Economy on Vietnam Airlines? Premium Economy is typically 30%-90% more expensive than flying in Economy. Expect to pay up to double the price to fly in Premium Economy.
For a better deal on Business Class flights or luxury hotels, contact our luxury travel concierge for a free quote. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts and free perks at hotels including Four Seasons, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, InterContinental and many more.
2. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Loyalty Program
In terms of loyalty programs, Vietnam Airlines operates Lotusmiles, its Frequent Flyer loyalty program. Established in 1999, Vietnam Airlines’ Frequent Flyer Program Lotusmiles is the first and the best frequent flyer program in Vietnam.
As a member of Lotusmiles, you can enjoy a variety of awards on Vietnam Airlines, including award tickets, upgrade awards and excess baggage allowance awards. Lotusmiles offers five tiers: Platinum, Gold, Titanium, Silver and Register. Obviously, you get more miles if you fly in Premium Economy because you are spending more money.
Because Vietnam Airlines is a member of the Skyteam Alliance, it flies out of Heathrow Terminal 4 (if you’re flying from London), which is the SkyTeam base at London Heathrow.
3. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Check-in & Hold Baggage
From dedicated check-in (there is a specific Premium Economy desk at London Heathrow) to priority boarding, enjoy priority treatment throughout your journey if you are flying in Premium Economy, which is a major advantage over flying Economy.
You get two pieces (23kg each) of hold luggage when travelling in Premium Economy compared one in Economy which is a big bonus.
4. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Lounges
Vietnam Airlines offers excellent lounges. As with most airlines, lounge access isn’t included with a Vietnam Airlines Premium Economy ticket unless you have SkyTeam status.
You can also use your Priority Pass or pay to access to airport lounges but they won’t necessarily be the same Vietnam Airlines Airlines lounges that Business Class passengers access (although this is the same lounge in Heathrow). There is no advantage to flying Premium Economy in this respect as neither Economy or Premium Economy passengers get access to the excellent Vietnam Airlines Business and First Class airport lounges.
5. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Toilets
Unusually, Premium Economy passengers share the same lavatories as Economy class passengers. Not on Vietnam Airlines. There are two toilets at the front of the Premium Economy cabin on their 787, exclusive for Premium passengers although they aren’t noteworthy lavatories.
6. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Seat
Onboard the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, passengers can stretch out with extra legroom and fully-reclining seats with a generous 42″ seat pitch and recline up to 7″. The seats are 18-19 inches wide. Premium Economy is equipped with extra-large windows with light balance control, private reading lights, and large overhead compartments for storage. You will enjoy your private space with 10.6’’ large screen and a world of entertainment right at your seat.
The new A350 has Premium Economy seats designed exclusively for Vietnam Airlines, offering more legroom and increased mobility. The Premium Economy section offers near-flat reclining seats with a generous 38” seat pitch and recline up to 8″ and the latest in entertainment with private 10.6″ screen. In addition, the spacious luggage compartments with proper humidity conditions are optimized to bring the completed experience for your journey.
In Premium Economy, on their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Vietnam Airlines uses the same premium economy seat as Norwegian airlines, so the seat is very wide with very generous legroom and recline.
You are given a blanket, a basic amenity kit (with a pair of socks, eye-mask, earplugs and dental kit) and a small cushion, which is left on your seat. Premium Economy also has extra legroom and wider seats but NO noise-cancelling headphones.
For me, the extra elbow room in the Premium Economy seats enables me to work more comfortably on my laptop, making the width worth paying for.
7. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Seat Recline
The Vietnam Airlines Premium Economy seat reclines up to a generous 8 inches, which is great for the person reclining. Most Economy seats have a recline of 4-6 inches so this is a great advantage for the person reclining and the Premium Economy traveller.
8. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Entertainment
In Premium Economy, the monitor for entertainment is larger, although the catalogue of movies and tv is usually the same with a mix of Western and Asian programming, including a variety of new movies.
The screen is also where you can find a USB port and the headphone socket. You don’t get those noise-cancelling headphones in Premium Economy (you do on most airlines in Premium Economy). You get basic, over-ear headphones.
9. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Flight Attendants
Vietnam Airlines flight attendants serving the Premium Economy cabin have more time for you than those serving in the Qatars Airlines Economy cabin, so Premium Economy wins.
10. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Food
You get free drinks and free food in Vietnam Airlines Premium Economy. The menu offering is enhanced and the food is reasonable in quantity but not so great in quality.
You start with a choice of drinks before take-off. Meals then have a choice between Western and Asian mains delivered all on one tray. The food isn’t great. The main (chicken, beef, salmon) comes with a fruit salad, salad and a bun with soft cheese (Camembert), but it is fairly bland in flavour and similar to what you might get in Economy. Drinks are included, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic and after the meal you get a full-size bottle of water.
Dinner and lunch are similar (dinner has a cake for dessert followed by ice cream bars) but you can pre-order your meal online up to seven days before your flight to be sure you get what you want.
Breakfast tends to be a choice between western-style scrambled eggs & sausage etc or chicken and noodles. You also get a rolls and fruit salad along with a yoghurt.
Overall the food is still better than Economy.
Is Premium Economy On Vietnam Airlines Worth It?
Vietnam Airlines Premium Economy is a good product and worth paying the extra if you can afford it. Highlights include the same excellent seats that Norwegian uses and slippers. Lowlights are the food and drink which are OK but nothing special although the quantity is generous. I have flown in Premium Economy and would not hesitate to fly it again.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor.
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