Vietnam Airlines To Start Flying To Los Angeles (Eventually)

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Vietnam Airlines is one of the faster growing airlines in Asia, and has ordered an impressive number of new planes. The airline has both Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft in their fleet, with several more on order.


Interestingly the airline is installing two different types of business class seats on these planes. Vietnam Airlines has reverse herringbone seats on their 787s, while they have a staggered fully flat configuration on their A350s, so personally I far prefer their 787 business class configuration (even though in general I prefer the A350).

Well, it looks like Vietnam Airlines is more of a fan of the A350, as they’ve just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus for 10 more A350-900 aircraft. As of now Vietnam Airlines has four A350s in their fleet, with another 10 on order. This MOU would get them another 10, for a total fleet of 24 A350s. Of course that assumes this deal goes through.

Perhaps most interesting is that the Airbus press release specifically says that Vietnam Airlines will use these planes to begin nonstop flights to the US, starting with a flight between Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles. At 8,169 miles, the route is a bit shorter than the world’s current longest A350 route, operated by Singapore Airlines between Singapore and San Francisco (8,446 miles).


It’s interesting to see the number of new flights that airlines in Southeast Asia want to launch to the US. Garuda Indonesia, Thai Airways, and Singapore Airlines, all want to add further flights to the US.

In the case of Vietnam Airlines, there’s another hurdle they have to overcome first. Vietnam needs to obtain a Category 1 rating with the US FAA, which they don’t presently have. This shouldn’t be too tough for them to do, and it’s something Indonesia also recently obtained, ahead of them launching flights to the US.

Bottom line

It would be very cool to see Vietnam Airlines launch flights to the US, something that’s only sustainable thanks to the new ultra fuel efficient planes being produced by Airbus and Boeing. That being said, Vietnam is generally a pretty low yield destination, so they’d have a very hard time turning a profit on a route like this, even with high loads and a fuel efficient plane.

Nonetheless I’d love to see Vietnam Airlines start US flights, so am looking forward to this. However, it’ll likely be at least a couple of years before this comes to fruition.

What do you make of Vietnam Airlines starting flights between the US and Vietnam?

  1. While Little Saigon to Saigon nonstop would be cute, you’re completely correct about it being low yield. But a further challenge is that many overseas Vietnamese (Viet kieu) are very anti-Communist Vietnamese, pro-American, and would rather set foot on United than Vietnam. UA used to fly nonstop from SFO.

  2. You mention that it is low yield but I don’t think it actually is.

    I have to go between LAX and SGN at least six times a year for work. I predominately use CI for the trip for flights in both directions, which includes a stopover in TPE. I’d guess that 50-60% of the passengers are not getting off in TPE as all their luggage from LAX is checked through to SGN judging by the address on luggage tags and boxes. Same goes for the return flight from SGN to LAX.

    If VN launched a nonstop I’d imagine there’d be some attrition from CI, BR and whomever does a one-stop flight between SGN and LAX which would boost the yield. I know I’d prefer to get there in one go rather than transiting in TPE.

    I think a bigger detterent at the moment was that Viet Nam just changed their visa policy. Used to be that you could get a visa on arrival for ~$50. Now, you have to pay $120 for the application and then a stamping fee in the airport for $135. This is going to turn off a lot of travellers I’d guess from making quick visits to Viet Nam.

  3. United presently flies the world’s longest flight… not Singapore Airlines. SIA doesn’t intend to launch SIN-SFO for another six weeks.

  4. VN has been saying this for years. Who knows if it will ever happen.

    Visa info above is incorrect, not $120 for an application, I think you meant to say $20.

    I’m skeptical UA ever flew non-stop from SFO, but admit I could be wrong. Unless you’re talking about troop flights of some sort back during the conflict.

  5. i’ll try to avoid both VN & China products (big to small, food to equipments are mostly unreliable or faked) are unsafe & short-lived

  6. @ BYNC

    Actually neither of them do. EK flies DXB-AKL which is the worlds current longest route, and QR is launching DOH-AKL in February which will be the new longest route.

  7. @keitherson – UA never flew non-stop to SGN. The flight stops in HKG before proceeding to SGN. The flight is still operated but is ending in October apparently.

    DL also used to fly to SGN from NRT with 757’s a couple years ago too but the route was short lived.

    VN also has some crazy cheap business class fares out of SIN to Europe (CDG, FRA and LHR). Might be something you want to look into @Lucky!

  8. @Mark, no sir, $120 is correct.

    From what I understand, US Citizens can only get a multiple entry, one year visa now. US citizens are not able to get a one month or three month single or multiple entry visa anymore. This is consistent with my recent experience too.

    I usually go on to get my VOA and now, there is no option, when selecting nationality for Americans. I contacted the Vietnamese Consulate in San Francisco and confirmed that you are only able to get a multiple entry, one year visa. The application fee is $120 and then the stamping fee in the airport is $135.

  9. wow sounds like I got lucky. I visited Vietnam this past June and was able to get a one time entry VOA. It’s a shame about the policy change as that is going to deter a lot of American tourists. Vietnam is a beautiful country with amazing cuisine.

  10. Vietnam Airlines now has two configurations on their A350: first has the staggered configuration, the second has reverse herringbone business class seats with ‘true’ premium economy similar to their 787. It was earlier reported that VN was favoring the long-range 777-8X for nonstop flights to the US, but in the end they favored more A350s. But Airbus didn’t seem to specify what type of A350 they selected, the second batch might be a HGW version just like what Philippine Airlines selected, or might even be a ULR version just like Singapore Airlines’. For sure, it will feature less seats than their current A350 to add more range, meaning more premium seats and more available upgrades.

    I also disagree that Vietnam might be a low yield destination, and that Vietnamese Americans are anti-communist. The US will be a very lucrative market for them since millions of Vietnamese Americans reside there, and the Vietnamese are also family-oriented and most of them have relatives left behind in Vietnam. With this more convenient option, they could now visit their family relatives more frequently, especially during Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year).

    Southeast Asian carrier Philippine Airlines will also be mountig additional flights to the US. Next year, they’re aiming into launching twice daily flights LAX-MNL as they take two additional 777-300ERs this year. They’re also aiming for nonstop JFK-MNL flights in 2019 using their A350 HGW.

  11. This will be a high yield route only if they can undercut the prices comparing to Eva and China Airlines. Tons of Vietnamese Americans live in CA.

  12. The days of overseas Vietnamese being shamed out of returning for a visit are long over ( as for Australians, Canadians, French of Vietnamese heritage). It used to be an issue but not for the last decade.
    The visa decision is quite bizarre: it will restrict the market. Presumably it is based on reciprocity and what Vietnamese have to pay to visit other countries ( The Brazil/Chile approach to visa fee setting).
    Ex Bangkok , Vietnam Airlines has the best premium fares to Paris and to Australia( other than intermittent Malysia sales to the latter). Very comfortable.

  13. “That being said, Vietnam is generally a pretty low yield destination, so they’d have a very hard time turning a profit on a route like this, even with high loads and a fuel efficient plane.”

  14. @ Nga

    “This will be a high yield route only if they can undercut the prices comparing to Eva and China Airlines. Tons of Vietnamese Americans live in CA.”

    What? High yield means they make MORE money. How can they make more if they have to undercut the competition, which has 1-stop flights?

  15. Sorry, keitherson, UA never flew nonstop from LAX to SGN.

    After approval SGN to LAX, VN should be allowed LAX to CDG.

  16. It’s interesting to know that TPE is exactly on the great circle route from SGN to LAX, and that makes TPE a naturally wonderful place as a stop.
    It may be hard for VN to compete with CI or BR as both airlines now provide Vietnamese service onboard with native crews, and the fact that they offer more flight options for passengers to choose from.

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