Vietnam Airways Launches Its First Direct Route to the US

Just be prepared for 16-hour flights and $1,000 one-way economy tickets

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, officially Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception is a cathedral located in the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Ngoc Binh / Getty Images

We’ve been waiting decades for a nonstop flight between Vietnam and the United States, and it looks like the day has finally arrived. Vietnam Airlines just announced a new route between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and San Francisco (SFO), its first scheduled destination in the U.S.

According to the airline's official Facebook page, the inaugural flight from SGN (scheduled to take 13 hours and 50 minutes) will take place on November 28, while the return flight from SFO (16 hours and 40 minutes) will depart on November 29. The round-trip flights will occur twice-weekly for now; in a press conference last Tuesday, CEO Le Hong Ha expressed interest in daily flights once the pandemic stabilizes, with added destinations in Los Angeles and Houston.

Flights will operate on Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 aircraft. In order to travel the distance between the two cities without having to refuel, the planes will not fly at full capacity, with about 100 seats left empty on each trip.

These new routes are a pretty big deal: Vietnam Airlines is officially the first and only Vietnamese carrier to operate a direct flight to the U.S. The victory comes after 20 years of effort on the part of Vietnam Airlines, which first established a representative office in the U.S. in November 2001. More recently, they expressed interest in a nonstop flight to LAX in 2016 and fought for FAA approval to fly to the U.S. in 2019.

If you’re anything like us, you might be questioning the timing of all this—namely because Vietnam is still closed to U.S. travelers. However, the country recently announced plans to open some popular tourist spots (like Halong Bay and resort island Phu Quoc) to vaccinated Americans this December, and intends to fully reopen in June 2022.

Tickets for the new flights are not yet on sale, though Vietnamese media outlet VnExpress reports they will be available online “in a few days.” As for the cost? You can expect to pay about $1,000 one-way for an economy seat.

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  1. Federal Aviation Administration. "FAA Announces Aviation Safety Rating for Vietnam." February 14, 2019.