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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vietnam Airlines Releases Interior Images for 787, A350

On Tuesday, Vietnam Airlines (VNA) posted seatmaps and rendered images for their new Boeing 787-9 (B789) and Airbus A350-900 (A359) aircraft. The images appeared on VNA's official Facebook page.

The images confirm my previous anonymously-sourced information on the B789 that the new business class seats are the Cirrus from Zodiac Aerospace, the deluxe economy seats are from HAECO (nee TIMCO), and the economy seats are the lightweight Pinnacle seats from B/E Aerospace.
Rendering of VNA's B789 business cabin.
Image source: Vietnam Airlines

Rendering of VNA's B789 deluxe economy cabin.
Image source: Vietnam Airlines

Rendering of VNA's B789 economy cabin.
Image source: Vietnam Airlines
What was surprising to me were the images for the A359 interior. Instead of going for fleet commonality in business class by installing Cirrus on the Airbus, VNA opted to use what looks like a version of EADS Solstys, which is a staggered forward-facing product.
Rendering of VNA's A359 business cabin.
Image source: Vietnam Airlines
Also surprising: It seems that VNA is choosing outfit the A359's deluxe economy cabin with the regular Pinnacle economy seats, still at 9-abreast in a 3-3-3 configuration (instead of the 7-abreast, 2-3-2 truly bigger seat configuration on the B789), just with more legroom!
Rendering of VNA's A359 deluxe economy cabin (?).
Image source: Vietnam Airlines

Rendering of VNA's A359 economy cabin.
Image source: Vietnam Airlines
I'm really REALLY hoping that the A359's configuration is not set in stone, especially in regards to the deluxe economy cabin. While VNA apparently installed a proper premium economy product on the B789s, they didn't do anything special on the A359s except give more leg room (akin to what many US-based carriers do). Perhaps this was a mistake in posting the images? Or an incorrect interpretation?

I feel that VNA had the chance to ensure fleet commonality in seating and features, departing from their previous ragtag fleets mixed from owned aircraft and aircraft from different lessors. Instead, they provide two completely different premium cabin products, which can only lead to operational complexities, crew confusion and dissatisfaction for the premium passenger.

I'll admit that I love the Cirrus seat, and I'm sure that the Vantage XL is a fine product as well. I do feel they should have stuck with one or the other. My speculative guess? There may have been a seating supply shortage from one vendor that required using the other's product, as to not delay delivery for either aircraft any longer.

One last small point of contention: I do hope VNA follows the lead of other carriers of installing a proper walk-up bar in business class, instead of what was pictured:
Image source: Vietnam Airlines
Still, it's an exciting time for VNA, with two new widebody types coming online this year to replace their aging long-haul fleet. New planes, new cabins, new seats, and even Wi-Fi on board.

What about that seat map?
Let's compare what I thought the seatmap was going to be vs. what was actually released by VNA.
VNAFlyer's predicted mockup.
VNA's released seatmap.
I think I came pretty close! Especially with the deluxe economy seats and the economy section after the 3rd doors. What I didn't get quite right:
  • While I knew there were 211 seats in economy (and VNA's seat map confirms this), I miscounted and only put 205 seats;
  • I might have given deluxe economy a little too much leg room;
  • I was off on some of the mid-cabin lavatory and galley positions;
  • My business class rows were off, with the middle set more forward rather than being in line with the window seats.
Hopefully VNA will release a seatmap of the A359 soon, so that we can confirm my worst fears the seating arrangement.

(H/T: Flyertalk user nam_sg)

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