Our flight was scheduled for 1:10 p.m. on Saturday, December 21, 2013.
We took off on time…but on Monday, December 23, 2013—48 hours after scheduled time.
Boarding and check-in for the December 21 VN16 Paris-Hanoi flight went down property, with no particular problems.
We boarded the airplane and waited for take-off. In the beginning, there was some delay, than a half-hour, than an hour. They announced that the flight would take-off with some delay. The cabin crew gave us bottles of water while we waited and then served us a meal. We resigned to our fate without really understanding, and then, after 4-5 hours, the captain announced that the flight was cancelled because of a problem with the engine and that we should disembark. We didn't have any other information and, as very few people resigned themselves to leave the plane without an explanation, it was an Air France crew member who announced that the flight was cancelled, that we should disembark, and that the crew would explain what we would have to do.
Back inside Roissy, the Air France ground crew (not the Vietnam Airlines crew) told us that the airplane was going to be repaired and that we would be able to take off in the end of the morning of the following day. They told us to come back the following day at 10:30, at the same counter, for check-in. To spend the night, at Vietnam Airlines’ expense, they placed us in the airport Ibis Styles hotel, meals included.
On the following day, we arrived for check-in at about 10 a.m. After some time waiting in line, we overheard a conversation further back in the line of an Air France agent explaining that the flight had been canceled again. Again, we didn't understand why. When the person arrived at our position, she told us that the plane couldn't be repaired and that we would have to wait until the next day to be able to fly. Again, we had to control our anger and disappointment. At no moment did we get the chance to talk to a Vietnam Airlines agent to get more details. Also, it was impossible to check in on other flights on this very busy Christmas season.
The VN16 is a daily flight. That day’s flight (Sunday, December 22, at 1:10 p.m.) took place with its scheduled passengers, so that we were rooted to the spot, having to wait another 24 hours after having already waited a day. Though we can understand that a technical problem may keep us from taking off for safety reasons, we could not understand how Vietnam Airlines could make passengers—including elderly people and children—wait two entire days when they could have also shifted the passengers of the December 22 flight to December 23. They made the same group of passengers suffer twice from this airplane problem.
On the day following the day of the scheduled flight (December 23), we were finally able to take off. We were only able to relax when we arrived at our destination.
On the return flight there was also a delay, but it was a lot less outrageous.
The Air France crew gave us a form to fill out and send to the headquarters of Vietnam Airlines to be reimbursed for the expenses caused by the delay. We sent them a registered letter with this goal, but haven’t received any answer as of this moment.
Otherwise, if there hadn't been any problems making us lose two days of vacations, the flight would have been fine.
Legroom: very little, it was tight for me and I measure 1.68m
Seat reclination: bad, hard to sleep
Entertainment: it’s a pity that the movies begin at a scheduled time. The material was a bit old
Meal: Very nice, it was good and generous
Take-off and landing: nothing to report
Temperature: a little cold, water ran from the carry-on compartment along the window, probably an air conditioning problem
Flight information: ok, nothing to report after we took off
Boarding and check-in: lack of information to the passengers in case of problems
Luggage: nothing to report
Cabin crew: one of the flight attendants was absolutely unsmiling, but the others were nice. Service was rather good.
Punctuality: Zero (see above)
Compensation for the delays/cancellations: Also zero, we had the impression that the airline is waiting for us to forget this misadventure and they don't respond to demands for reimbursement.
We never felt that Vietnam Airlines tried to help us or even inform us. It was the employees of Air France who tried to give us explanations along the two days of wait. We never received excuses from Vietnam Airlines, or even a gesture of goodwill.
It was my first time with Vietnam Airlines and my last, I think. From now on, I prefer to pay extra to be able to expect a better response in case of problems than a passenger who has paid 1200€ for a plane ticket in economy class.
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