Tran Viet Phuong, better known as Travip, hosts the YouTube channel “Yeu May Bay” (Loving Airplanes). Here, he shares details of his post-Covid-19 inflight experiences.

Tran Viet Phuong - hosts the YouTube channel “Yeu May Bay” (Loving Airplanes)

A few days after lockdown ended, I had to travel to Hanoi. After a month of following the stay-at-home order, I decided to reward myself with a Vietnam Airlines’ business class seat. It no longer feels strange to complete a health declaration before coming to the airport; to wear a face mask on the aircraft; or to get a body temperature check at the airport. This will surely be an interesting tale to tell our children in the future.

My flight was on an Airbus A350-900 XWB, the most modern wide-body aircraft. The business class seat had a generous amount of personal space. I was surprised when the business class meal was served hot in a container sealed with aluminum foil. This meal had previously been served uncovered for passengers’ convenience.

As someone who pays a lot of attention to customer service, I realized this change served a purpose. The meal was sealed to ensure proper hygiene and avoid cross contamination. A cabin attendant kindly reminded me to be careful with the hot container. My salad was stored in a lidded box. It contained cooked lotus seeds and roots instead of the usual raw vegetables. As for dessert, an unpeeled banana was a safer alternative to pre-cut fruit. Cotton towels were replaced with wet tissues in separate packages, ensuring passengers’ safety and hygiene in the current situation.

I especially enjoyed the bottled mixed fruit juice. Named WeReal, it’s a product of Tay Ninh province. The packaging was really cute. The refreshing flavor came from freshly juiced fruit and vegetables, and was so wholesome I could taste the pulp. This drink would help to boost one’s immune system to better ward off infection.

Since lockdown ended, I have flown dozen of times with Vietnam Airlines. Besides business class, I have flown economy from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and to Can Tho. Depending on flight times, passengers were sometimes served “banh mi” stuffed with pork, pâté, and pickled salad. The sandwiches tasted authentic. Typical desserts included unpeeled fruit like bananas and mandarin oranges, or yogurt and cakes in sealed containers. Water came in bottles. Each passenger had one for their own. Light inflight snacks such as rice cakes also came in sealed packets.

There are many ways to enjoy domestic flights with Vietnam Airlines. The wide-body planes like the Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s provide a full selection of entertainment at your fingertips. Passengers in economy class receive headsets too. Cloth ear covers are carefully sanitized and sealed in separate packets to ensure hygiene. Some Airbus A350s even provide in-flight Wi-Fi. At a height of 10,000 meters, I could text and talk to my friends or use Google. The Airbus A321neos offer W-IFE (wireless in-flight entertainment) so that passengers can use their personal electronic devices for entertainment without disturbing others.

Another interesting benefit of domestic flights is the wide selection of entertainment thanks to the collaboration between Vietnam Airlines and FPT Play. I always accessed this platform and pre-downloaded favorite shows to my personal device to keep me entertained during the 24 hours before departure through six hours after landing.

Flying post COVID-19 is a different experience, to be honest. I had a chance to try new dishes and fruit juices, which were not served pre-pandemic. Also, all hard surfaces frequently touched by passengers were cleaned and disinfected. The various choices of entertainment were another plus for Vietnam Airlines as they try to adapt to “the new normal” while maintaining their high levels of safety and thoughtfulness.