The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has granted Vietnam Airlines permission to operate scheduled commercial flights from Vietnam to the United States, the airline said on Monday. Pending FAA approval, the Hanoi-based national airline plans to begin operating scheduled flights to the United States in late November.

Vietnam Airlines could operate its A350-900s on scheduled services to the United States. Photo: Airbus

Ho Chi Minh to San Francisco

After more than two decades of anticipation of direct service to the United States, Vietnam Airlines announces that it will begin operations with flights from Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh City to San Francisco ( SFO). In the meantime, no other route has been announced. Border restrictions still in place for Vietnam could mean the initial schedule will be somewhat sparse.

The carrier has not yet announced which planes it intends to operate at SFO. However, when Airbus and Vietnam Airlines announced that the airline had signed a memorandum of understanding for ten additional A350 XWBs in 2016, the manufacturer said the carrier intended to fly them on non-stop flights to United States.

The SkyTeam member’s long-haul fleet consists of 14 Airbus A350-900, 11 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and four 787-10 (with four more still on order). The A350s come in two different configurations. One has 29 business class reclining seats, 45 premium economy reclining seats and 231 standard economy seats. The other has 29, 36 and 240, respectively.

Vietnam Airlines 787
Where will it go for its Boeing 787s, the last of which have yet to be delivered? Photo: Boeing

Meanwhile, the Boeing 787-9s have 28 in business, 35 in premium economy and 211 in standard economy. Or, in a configuration where Vietnam Airlines chose not to offer the premium economy – 28 flat beds and 283 standard seats. However, much of the carrier’s widebody fleet remains inactive.

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First to be authorized for regular service

Vietnam Airlines is the first Vietnamese carrier to be granted approval to operate direct scheduled flights to the United States. However, fellow leisure-oriented competitor Bamboo Airways is also licensed to operate charter services. The airline made its maiden flight from Hanoi to San Francisco on September 23. In total, Bamboo will have operated twelve flights from Hanoi and Da Nang to SFO, Los Angeles and Seattle in November.

Vietnam Airlines plans to fly to the United States by the end of the month
Bamboo Airways, a young competitor to Vietnam Airlines and the country’s second largest airline, currently operates charter flights to SFO, LAX and Seattle. Photo: Bambou Airways

Could Bamboo be next?

The long-haul fleet of the young Vietnamese airline consists only of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Bamboo seats are also available in two different configurations. One has 26 reclining business class seats, 21 premium economy seats and 247 economy seats. The other includes 30 reclining business seats, 36 premium economy seats and 226 standard economy seats.

Bamboo Airways would also support direct scheduled services in the near future. The aspirations of both carriers were significantly boosted two years ago, when the FAA in February 2019 moved Vietnam to category one in its safety assessment.

Have you had the chance to travel with Vietnam Airlines? Are you excited about the upcoming nonstop flights between Vietnam and the United States? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


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