Bamboo Airways Plans To Launch USA Flights

Bamboo Airways Plans To Launch USA Flights

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A few weeks ago we learned about Bamboo Airways’ plans to launch flights between Vietnam and the United States. That’s now one step closer to becoming a reality, as the airline has filed with the Department of Transportation (DOT) for permission to operate these flights.

Bamboo Airways’ rumored LAX & SFO service

Several weeks ago there were reports of Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways intending to launch regularly scheduled nonstop flights between Vietnam and the United States as of September 2021. It was suggested that Bamboo Airways intends to fly from Ho Chi Minh City to both Los Angeles and San Francisco using Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Specific flight times were even referenced at the time:

  • The 8,169 mile flight between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and Los Angeles (LAX) would land at LAX at 9:30AM and depart again at 12:30PM
  • The 7,838 mile flight between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and San Francisco (SFO) would land at SFO at 10AM and depart again at 1PM

Now, I think it’s important to note that we’ve heard talk about airlines in Vietnam wanting to fly nonstop to the USA for a very long time:

Bamboo Airways’ most likely routes to the United States

Bamboo Airways requests USA regulatory approval

Bamboo Airways has now filed with the DOT for much broader authority to serve the United States, with the airline officially hoping to launch flights in the third quarter of 2021. The airline has requested permission to:

  • Operate service between Hanoi and/or Ho Chi Minh City and the United States via intermediate points of Nagoya, Osaka, and/or Taipei (it’s noted that the airline wouldn’t be able to carry passengers between Japan and the United States, but that’s not stated for Taiwan)
  • Operate flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and Dallas
  • Operate even further connecting service between the United States and Canada, to Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto

It seems highly likely to me that the airline is simply requesting more permission than it will actually need, because as filed, these plans seem bizarre. A Boeing 787-9 can fly nonstop from Ho Hi Minh City to both Los Angeles and San Francisco, which seem like the most likely routes.

A stop would be needed for Dallas and New York service, for example, but I have a hard time imagining that route will become a reality (since in that case the airline doesn’t have a competitive advantage over other airlines offering one-stop service).

Then the concept of offering connecting service to Canada is even stranger. What kind of a routing are we talking about here — Ho Chi Minh City to Osaka to New York to Montreal, for example?

Bamboo Airways Boeing 787-9

While I’d absolutely love to see these routes launch, personally I wouldn’t consider this a sure bet until the inaugural flight takes off. That’s especially true for service to Dallas and New York, as well as for connecting service to Canada.

What is Bamboo Airways, anyway?

For those of you not familiar with Bamboo Airways, it’s a privately owned and ridiculously fast growing Vietnamese airline that was founded in 2017. The airline already has dozens of planes, including brand new Airbus A321neos and Boeing 787-9s.

The airline initially operated regionally, and then in early 2020 announced plans to launch its first long haul route to Prague. As you’d expect, that didn’t happen quite as planned due to the pandemic.

Frankly I can’t fully wrap my head around the economics of this airline. Admittedly many costs (including labor) are lower in Vietnam, and the country is also growing fast and very pro-business. But still, the carrier’s growth is… unconventional.

Bamboo Airways also flies Airbus A321neos

What are Bamboo Airways’ Boeing 787-9s like?

Bamboo Airways would use Boeing 787-9s for flights to the USA. The airline already has three of these in its fleet, with a further 11 on order. Bamboo Airways has reverse herringbone seats in business class, which are competitive.

Bamboo Airways 787-9 business class

On top of that, the airline has premium economy and economy seats on Boeing 787-9s.

Bamboo Airways 787-9 premium economy

Perhaps most intriguing is that some of Bamboo Airways’ future 787 deliveries will allegedly feature first class suites, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see those eventually offered on flights to the United States. We don’t know exactly what kind of a product the airline would offer, though.

Bottom line

Bamboo Airways intends to launch flights to the United States in the third quarter of 2021. While initial reports suggested that the airline would fly nonstop from Ho Chi Minh City to both Los Angeles and San Francisco, the airline is requesting permission to route via intermediate points in Asia, and to offer connecting service to Canada, both of which are hard to make sense of.

One thing is for sure — as an airline and passenger experience geek, I’d love to give Bamboo Airways a try. While the airline is offering an intriguing status match campaign, I sure wish Bamboo Airways would have useful airline partnerships for earning & redeeming miles.

Do you think Bamboo Airways will follow through with offering USA service?

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  1. Eric

    Vietnam has had restrictive entry since the whole pandemic. I think flights to the US in September will be dependent on whether the country will open up by then, which I don't think is likely. If they do, the government has stated that Asian countries that have managed the pandemic well would be prioritized first.

  2. Kevin

    This is great news! Especially, for non-stop from VN to the US. QH has excellent service and nice planes. They’re owned by FLC Group which is a big real estate developer with deep pocket in VN. They have wet leases with Turkish Air & LOT for some of the domestic routes. Though, currently, given the new wave of Covid in VN, I highly doubt they can start flying to the US in September.

  3. Upwan

    Bamboo Airways is fantastic. I reviewed them January 2020 just before borders closed. happy to send you my review and photos if you want them.

  4. RobPHX

    would love to see flights between Hanoi and the US as well.

    @Lucky, any indications who they might choose to partner with for domestic connections within Vietnam?

  5. AC

    OK Lucky I will be “that guy” - please don’t refer to a flight as “direct” when you really mean non-stop. I realize many people who don’t know any better use the terms interchangeably but they aren’t the same and you are clearly referring to non-stop flights.

  6. Glen

    Star Alliance membership was talked about a while ago.

  7. roger

    Bamboo would be a nice addition for service to the USA and aligning themselves with ONEWORLD or certainly American and Alaska on the West Coast would help feed those ultra long flights to Vietnam. I have flown AA to HKG several times and many of the passengers were connecting on to flights in Vietnam.

  8. ChrisW

    Man talk about a low yield route. The profit margins must be razor thin.

  9. Dominic Yeo

    As I understand it,

    the alliance strategy for Vietnam mirrors that of China, with the capital city home to the Star Alliance carriers. Vietnam Airlines will make Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh its superhub.

    I believe QH will launch Hanoi/ Ho Chi Minh - Seoul Incheon/ Taipei Taoyuan - Los Angeles/ San Francisco. This will cover the imminent loss of Asiana and EVA Air to SkyTeam. Eventually, Bamboo Airways will connect Yangon, Bangkok, Phnom...

    As I understand it,

    the alliance strategy for Vietnam mirrors that of China, with the capital city home to the Star Alliance carriers. Vietnam Airlines will make Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh its superhub.

    I believe QH will launch Hanoi/ Ho Chi Minh - Seoul Incheon/ Taipei Taoyuan - Los Angeles/ San Francisco. This will cover the imminent loss of Asiana and EVA Air to SkyTeam. Eventually, Bamboo Airways will connect Yangon, Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Medan etc to Seoul and Taipei, for connections to US. Southeast Asia, aka ASEAN is becoming a Union soon, and will be considered a single market, the largest in the world actually.

    Vietnamese are really small in stature, even for Asian standards. You might want to put off flying long haul with them. They're so short, that 28" pitch on VietJet Air to Vietnamese, is considered great legroom. The fact that they need so little room masks the market's actual premium.

    Vietnam is a 2nd China. China population went from 148m to 1.4b in 50 years. Vietnam's population is now 120m and in 50 years, will be 1.2b.

    There are serious human rights violations in...

    Myanmar (we in ASEAN get that Myanmar is trying to push assimilation of Burmese as the dominant culture, but is going about it all the wrong ways) ,

    Thailand (similar to HK, the Thais have always made their voices heard to the government, and despite a military junta-constituitional monarchy that is democratically elected, the local Thais don't see the big picture. The Thai people need to be guided in their democratic processes: if the people had their way, Thailand would've ethnic cleansed Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Laos

    Philippines (the US' private forces are staging an reenactment of Vietnam War, and are accidentally conducting their own ethnic cleansing of the southern Philippines. This is why Philippines, particularly the big cities developed a drug use problem as millions of Filipino young adults being the breadwinners in the big cities of Manila and Cebu, deal with the loss of the will to live)

    that require the rough handling of a not-so-democratic government to deal with.

    1. Nguyen L.

      China Airlines already belong to SkyTeam so you are saying that EVA Air is going to merge with China? Even Asiana and Korean merger still face regulatory hurdles.

  10. Thien Van

    Vietnamese people living in the US are in desperate need of these flights. Creating conditions for traveling back to the homeland is easier!

  11. Ken Wu

    It didn't mention. How long is the flight time? I know the flight and take off time but i'm not sure of turn around time is? What is the estimated cost to go to SFO-SGN?

  12. Johnny Nguyen

    I love Bamboo Airways and always wish it a great success for many decades to come. As for the direct routes between Vietnam and the United States, I believe that it’s possible if it’s economically feasible by filling up full capacity every single flight with a smart, careful fares structure and other ways to increase more revenue - generating the most revenue for those direct flights.

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Johnny Nguyen

I love Bamboo Airways and always wish it a great success for many decades to come. As for the direct routes between Vietnam and the United States, I believe that it’s possible if it’s economically feasible by filling up full capacity every single flight with a smart, careful fares structure and other ways to increase more revenue - generating the most revenue for those direct flights.

Nguyen L.

China Airlines already belong to SkyTeam so you are saying that EVA Air is going to merge with China? Even Asiana and Korean merger still face regulatory hurdles.

Ken Wu

It didn't mention. How long is the flight time? I know the flight and take off time but i'm not sure of turn around time is? What is the estimated cost to go to SFO-SGN?

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