To get to Phuket, Thailand from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (SGN) I purchased separate tickets on Vietnam Airlines (VN) to Bangkok (BKK) and from Bangkok to Phuket on Thai Airways.
I took VN 604 from SGN to BKK on September 10 and returned from BKK to SGN on VN 605 on September 15. Vietnam Airlines is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance as is Delta. As a SkyTeam Elite Plus, due to my Delta Diamond status, I received perks on VN like priority boarding, free preferred seating, and lounge access in SGN and BKK. All Delta Gold, Platinum, and Diamond members are Skyteam Elite Plus b/t/w.
Vietnam Airlines SGN SkyTeam Lounge
At SGN, the Skyteam lounge for Vietnam Airlines was not too far from the bus gate for VN604.
Vietnam Airlines A321-200 Economy Class
The A321-200 is the workhorse of the Vietnam Airlines short-haul fleet. Seats in economy are arranged 3-3. SkyTeam Elite Plus status allowed me to select an exit row seat for no additional charge. I had the exit row all to myself. Flights between SGN and BKK are only about 450 miles and 78 minutes. It seemed wasteful to pay extra for business class on such a short flight.
Often, but not always, economy loads are light on non super-cheap carriers in Southeast Asia.
Vietnam Airlines serves light but decent meals in economy at no charge even on short fights like SGN – BKK.
Here’s a look at the VN route maps and fleet.
(Click to enlarge)
SkyTeam Lounge BKK
For the return on VN605 I relaxed in the SkyTeam lounge before the flight. This lounge is conveniently located on the F concourse near the Skyteam gates. In addition to food and beverages, the lounge offers free wifi, showers, international newspapers, comfortable seating, plenty of electrical outlets, and agents who are invaluable in assisting with issues regarding your flight.
Food and beverages SkyTeam lounge BKK (click to enlarge)
The Last Word
On short-haul flights within Asia, economy class on flag carriers or boutique airlines like Bangkok Airways can be very enjoyable and inexpensive. These carriers have relatively new aircraft, free meals, and great service in economy.
Having access to an airport lounge before the flight through airline status or a lounge club membership adds greatly to the experience when traveling in coach. Priority Pass lounge club gives the member and one or more guests free access to over 900 airport lounges worldwide as a benefit of credit cards like American Express Platinum, Citi Prestige, or Chase Sapphire Reserve cards among others.