Search This Blog

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Small Bites Hall of Shame: Vietjet Strands Wheelchair Passenger; Passenger Slaps Staff, Vietnam Crew Smuggle Gold

Vietjet Air (VJ) staffers at Danang International Airport (DAD) in central Vietnam decided to strand a wheelchair-bound passenger, citing safety concerns. The passenger originally flew in from Hanoi (HAN) with no issues, but when she checked in for the return flight, rather than deal with assisting her from the tarmac up the airstairs to the plane, the staffers thought it was more prudent to cancel her ticket and issued a refund.  The passenger had to wait another 6 hours for an available seat on a Vietnam Airlines (VNA) flight. The staffers were subsequently fined VND 5 million by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), or approximately USD 250, with further discipline possible from the company.

On the flipside of VJ news, a female passenger was fined VND 7.5 million (approx. USD 345) by the CAAV for slapping a male VJ staffer after she was asked, and agreed to, to have her carryon luggage weighed. VJ has a 7kg limit on carryons, and the passenger was indeed over the limit.

VNA isn't immune to bad news: Both a pilot and a flight attendant were arrested in Busan, South Korea for smuggling gold in their shoes without declaration.  What's more amazing is that they apparently didn't know the other was doing the same thing, even though they were each being paid USD 250 to smuggle the gold in their shoes.  The gold, at present prices, was valued at over USD 227,000.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spring 2015 Asian Escapade

Yes, I know I haven't finished my last trip report... but I wanted to give you a heads up that I just came back from another trip. As you can see below, we hit a lot of places in a short amount of time. I call it "run-and-gun" but it's definitely not for everyone.

I enjoy maximizing the return on value to visit cities I normally would just connect through; I previously wrote about utilizing stopover privileges, and how you can flex them to your advantage.

Read more: Maximize the Layovers on Your Itinerary

As the real-life example here, I was able to stretch out a simple trip to Vietnam to include stops in Tokyo and Kyoto during cherry blossom season, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Chicago.

The map of my flights:
Image source: Great Circle Mapper
What you see above is actually a combination of paid and award bookings (and another example of why it's so worth it to pay attention to miles!). The foundation of the whole trip is a purchased double open-jaw roundtrip, which had us flying Seattle (SEA) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT), then as the return Saigon (SGN) to Los Angeles (LAX). By flying back into LAX instead of SEA, I was able to save a couple hundred dollars in airfare, even after counting the cost of buying a separate one-way flight LAX-SEA.

Sidenote: You'll probably see me refer to "we" a few times. I'm fortunate enough to be able to travel with my wife and some friends of ours, so when you scale the savings up, it starts amounting to a lot!

To get from Japan to Vietnam, we cashed in some miles and flew in comfort while maxing out how much we could fly.

So I have a full report for you: flights, hotels, ground transportation, and experiences.  Our complete itinerary, so that you can visualize it and either envy or pity us:
  • Alaska Airlines, from Seattle to Los Angeles
  • American Airlines, from Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita
    • LAX Admirals Club
    • Hyatt Regency Tokyo
  • Shinkansen, from Tokyo to Kyoto
    • Ryokan Ryokufuso
    • Hotel Nikko Kansai
  • Japan Airlines, from Osaka-Kansai to Taipei-Taoyuan
    • KIX Sakura Lounge
    • Grand Hyatt Taipei
  • Cathay Pacific Airways, from Taipei-Taoyuan to Hong Kong
    • TPE Business Class Lounge
    • Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui
  • Cathay Pacific Airways, from Hong Kong to Saigon
    • HKG The Bridge Business Class Lounge
    • Lan Lan 2 Hotel
  • Vietnam Airlines, from Saigon to Danang
    • Hyatt Regency Danang
  • Vietnam Airlines, from Danang to Saigon
    • Lan Lan 2 Hotel
  • Phuong Trang/FUTA Buslines, from Saigon to Can Tho
    • West Hotel
  • Japan Airlines, Saigon to Tokyo-Haneda
    • SGN The Bamboo Lounge
  • American Airlines, from Tokyo-Narita to Chicago-O'Hare
    • NRT Admirals Club
    • Conrad Chicago
  • American Airlines, from Chicago-O'Hare to Los Angeles
  • Alaska Airlines, from Los Angeles to Seattle
So stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

First Boeing 787 for Vietnam Airlines Rolls Off Assembly Line

Short but sweet news: FlightGlobal reports that Vietnam Airlines' (VNA's) first Boeing 787-9 (B789) has completed assembly and has rolled out of the hangar.

Photo courtesy Vietnam Airlines/FlightGlobal
Its next stop will be the paint shop to put on the VNA livery, then test flights will commence.

VNAFlyer previously broke the story about interior cabin configurations.

This first B789 is leased, and will have 28 business class seats from Cirrus and 283 slimline economy seats from B/E Aerospace.

While the leased aircraft will not have a deluxe economy section, VNA's purchased airframes will be configured with 28 business, 35 deluxe economy, and 211 economy seats.

The first B789 will be deployed on the Hanoi (HAN) to London-Heathrow (LHR) route commencing June 29, and split time with the Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)-LHR sector.