In a moment of aviation history, Vietnam Airlines completed the country’s first non-stop commercial flight to the United States. Previously the trip has always required a connection in another country.
Direct Flight Debut
The historical trip took place just shortly after Thanksgiving. The flight left from Vietnam on November 28th, around 8:40 pm local time. The flight included 13 hours of fly time and a 15 hour time change. This trek landed passengers at San Francisco International Airport at 6:42 pm local time.
Typically flights between Vietnam and the US require a connecting flight, making this route particularly groundbreaking. Most commonly these connections are in China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. Because of this, the airline is super proud of this newfound option they’ve created for Ho Chi Minh City travelers.
The airline said in a statement that, “The flight between Vietnam and the U.S. is usually quite long, so when buying a plane ticket to the US, you often have to transit in a 3rd country before you officially set foot in the U.S. This partly has passengers feel tired, anxious and overwhelmed in the middle of a crowded airport, encountering language barriers, or even missing their flight.”
Another factor contributing to this flight’s significance is overcoming strict travel requirements in order to make this happen. The airline industry in Vietnam has been working towards this feat for upwards of 20 years. Despite how long this has been in the works, the airline did not receive approval from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) until November 4th.
San Francisco Airport Is Honored
The excitement for this new route is certainly a two-way street. San Francisco Airport director Ivar C. Satero said in a statement issued by Vietnam Airlines,
“We are honored to be the first airport in the United States to provide nonstop frequent flights to Vietnam. We are thrilled to provide a world-class experience with seamless access throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and we are grateful to Vietnam Airlines for selecting San Francisco as their first U.S. destination.”
As the route begins to operate, it appears the airline doesn’t plan to keep it limited to SFO. Due to demand driven by Vietnamese students in the US, the airline is considering adding a route between Los Angeles and one of the country’s two major cities, Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
Airline Says the Route Will Remain Unprofitable for 5-10 Years
With great power comes great responsibility. Although this new direct flight creates an exciting new option for travelers, it comes with a price. Fares for the direct route start around $1,000, which is not considered outrageous for such a route. However, even with triple-digit fares, the airline says the route will not be profitable for quite some time.
Even though the route will not immediately bring in cash for the airline, they will remain as the first regularly scheduled flight between the two countries. As of right now, the plan is for the flight to run twice a week. Once government officials come to an agreement on increasing commercial flight service post-COVID19, the flight will operate 7 times per week.