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Vietnam forum

What Should the Airfare Be?

Posted by ecurry33 on 1/9/2009 at 03:10

Hi Listmates;
I am trying to purchase domestic tickets on VN Airlines. I know it is cheaper to purchase in VN, but we are traveling over Christmas and New Years and I want to be sure we get the connections we need.

I am having a very difficult time and any hints as to the best way to book, and approximately what the fare should be would be very appreciated.

We have to get from Hanoi to Phu Quoc ["PQ"]. There are no direct flights so we need to go Dec 29 Hanoi to HCMC and then connect to a flight to PQ. We return PQ to HCMC on Jan 1.

The VN Air site shows a price of 2,857,000 dong for a one way business class ticket btwn HAN and HCMC. Then on a separate itinerary it shows a price of 619,000 dong each way for a round trip Economy ticket between HCMC and PQ. Added up this is 4,095,000 dong. Per www.xe.com, today's exchange rate is 17,500 dong per dollar making this approxmaltey $235 per person which sounds about right to me.

But if I enter the same flights on the VN Airline site as one itinerary for a multi-destination ticket, it prices at 11,952,000 dong which would be $715 pr person. An enormous differnce and not in line with the prices the last time I flew domestically back in 2003.

I called VN Air's San Francisco office for clarification and all they told me is: we cannot see the online prices and don't know what they are, we are not a ticketing agent and cannot make a reservaton for you, and why don't you call Hanoi Horizon Travel here in SF as they are a ticketing agent and their prices will be cheaper.

So I called the agency and they priced the tickets around $600 per person which is cheaper than the multi-destination ticket, but still way too high compared to booking 2 itineraries. And the ticket is not refundable/changeable - even the business class segment.

I think I should just book the two separate itineraries online, but would like to understand what is happening before I take this any further. I am usually a very independent and capable traveler but this has me stumped.

Sorry about the length of this email. I want to be sure I am explaining the situation clearly. As always, thanks for sharing your wisdom and experiences.

EC

p.s. I need tickets that can have a change of itinerary even for a fee because I am not 100% confident about my hotel reservation on Phu Quoc Island. I plan to call the hotel once we arrive in Hanoi and reconfirm. If it seems we might not really have a room I will probably go to Nha Trang instead. I do not want to risk arriving at Phu Quoc before New Year's Eve without a confirmed hotel room.

#1 ecurry33 has been a member since 28/8/2009. Posts: 12

Posted by somtam2000 on 1/9/2009 at 07:20 admin

Not sure about this -- all sounds a bit odd. Leave it with me and I'll run it past a mate in Hanoi to see what he makes of it.

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,565
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Posted by ecurry33 on 1/9/2009 at 07:40

thank you.

#3 ecurry33 has been a member since 28/8/2009. Posts: 12

Posted by BruceMoon on 1/9/2009 at 07:40

ecurry33

The thing that jumps out at me is the non-confirmation of hotel on Phu Quoc. I think I'd be looking at alternate accommodation to ensure confirmation. That way, you'd know whether to book airline seats or not.

As you've probably realised, only IE 7+ will respond to the Vietnam Air website. You should be able to book on that site OK (I can).

If you are entering Vietnam via Vietnam Air, they also offer a discount pass (as stated here ):

"Vietnam Air: Offers a pass in conjunction with international flights that allows for a discount of 50% on domestic flights to fifteen different destinations. Airpass is not mentioned at website and you will have to speak with Vietnam Air for more information."

Cheers

#4 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by ecurry33 on 1/9/2009 at 19:02

Thanks - wish I had known about the discount package - we are flying in on Asiana Air - got a good price and was able to pay with reward points. I'm actually getting 3 people from Philadelphia to LA and then on to VN for only $700 based on a purchase last week for travel over the busy holdiays.

So I think I will book online, and at a high enough fare rate so that I can change my flight if need be.

The crazy thing abobut the hotel reservations is that most hotels [and reservation websites] emailed me that they are fully booked. But one hotel came though with availability in beachront and garden bungalows. JUst an email though - no reservation number of reuest for prepayment. Then they wrote back saying they made a mistake and only garden room is available. At least they keep writing and I know hotel is legitimate.
I asked a travel agent ot find out about rooms and her local agent at first reported that New Years is sold out. When I asked for further inquiry, specifically with the hotel where I am reserved, the agent then listed 5 hotels that are avaialble - but at 2 to 2.5 times the normally advertised price - and it says my hotel is avaialble. Not udnerstanding how this works and so feeling nervius......
EC

#5 ecurry33 has been a member since 28/8/2009. Posts: 12

Posted by BruceMoon on 3/9/2009 at 15:48

EC

Have you tried calling them by phone. It may sound (relatively) expensive, but could work out to be cheaper.

Also, have you looked at alternate islands in the region?

Try looking here for ideas - especially southern Thailand.

Surprisingly, it may be cheaper to get from Hanoi to Bangkok and then to (say) Phuket, Surat Thani or Krabi by AirAsia (etc) than to get to Phu Quoc.

Cheers

#6 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by somtam2000 on 3/9/2009 at 16:26 admin

Sorry for the delay on getting back to this was waiting to hear back from a second agent.

In summary both said Vietnam Airline's online pricing system is nonsensical and bizarre and that even by Vietnamese standards it makes little sense. Both suggested buying the tickets separately at the lower rate.

Yes, I'd be wanting that PQ reservation set in concrete, we're seeing lots of reservation requests for Phu Quoc over the silly season coming back no rooms available. Your situation prob particularly tricky as you're there such a short team at peak of peaks.

Good luck!

#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,565
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Posted by ecurry33 on 3/9/2009 at 20:30

Hey Brucemoon,
Good thought about other islands. But I've been to Koh Phi Phi, Krabi and Phuket and just don't want to deal with exiting VN for jsut a coule of days on an island.

And my daughter is Vietnamese so it is really important to me that we still within VN and she get to experience differnet parts of her birthcountry.

I think my alternate choice is Nha Trnag. I know it is more developed - but I figure beach/snorkeling still excellent and a good number of good restaurants. I've already been to Mui Ne/Phan Thiet.
What do yo think?
EC

#8 ecurry33 has been a member since 28/8/2009. Posts: 12

Posted by ecurry33 on 3/9/2009 at 20:36

Hi somtam2000,
Thanks for this info - definitely helpful. Good to hear the disparate prices are just due to the system and I am not missing some critical piece of info that will trip me up btwn purchasing flight 1 and flight 2.

I have received price quotes from a couple of agencies in VN and they vary a bit but basically come in around $290 per person. I think I will just try to book online b/c even with my credit card international surcharge it will be a little cheaper.

I've had a few emails back and forth with my reserved hotel about departure times and other misc details, and they keep writing back - which makes me a little more confident that we will have a room. Of course - I won't know until we actually ge there so I will have my hotel in Hanoi call them to reconfirm. Then I can at least do a last minute switch to Nha Trang if I still feel uneasy.
thanks again for your help!
EC

#9 ecurry33 has been a member since 28/8/2009. Posts: 12

Posted by BruceMoon on 4/9/2009 at 04:44

EC

Earlier this year there was a thread about a 'hideaway' beach location near Nha Trang - called Jungle Beach. Go look:

https://www.travelfish.org/board/post/vietnam/6369_how-to-reach-jungle-beach

It may not be a tropical island, but it could be an OK respite from the urban.

- - -

On the booking of PQ, what disturbs me is how patrons will be treated during this peak/peak season. I have this funny feeling that if there is already a bidding war for the remaining rooms, then the highest bidder might get the choice room, even though Mr & Mrs X had already paid months ago to 'secure' it.

The practice of shunting patrons to accommodate others with more $$$'s is both widespread in VN, and often noted by contributors here on TF.

Then again, the bidding war might merely be amongst travel agents, who knows. But, if your choice of location is not confirming your request to lay the money down, I think I'd look elsewhere.

Cheers

#10 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by roynolan on 4/9/2009 at 21:37

have you tried Jetstar Airways from Hanoi to HCMC, only $51 to $89 per person one way, and many flights all day, but they don't go to Phu Quoc

#11 roynolan has been a member since 29/1/2009. Posts: 48

Posted by ef00 on 14/9/2009 at 03:40

It seems that the Vietnam Airline's website does not let you book flights with different codes on the same multi-destination itinerary. The price discrepancy probably resulted from the website 'upgrading' all four legs of the ticket to business class even though economy may have been available for some of them.

#12 ef00 has been a member since 14/9/2009. Posts: 5

Posted by daawgon on 22/9/2009 at 02:14

You will enjoy Asiana - my favorite airline to date for Economy. This trip I'm on EVA ($706. from San Francisco, Asiana wanted $1400.)

Vietnam Air is having a sale from Oct 1-20 and promises 70% off

#13 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,111

Posted by ecurry33 on 22/9/2009 at 02:33

thanks for the input on Asiana. I don't know them but got a good price for traveling over Christmas. In the past I've been able to use miles to get biz class on Korea Air - needless to say this was wonderful. I've been monitoring Asiana's online seating assignments to see how the seats are filling in around us. I've used seatguru.com to reserve what looks like good seats. now hoping we get seats w/o many people around us. i know this will keep changing - but at least it is a good starting point.

crazy thing is the legal connection time in Seoul is 45 minutes. We have 50 minutes to transfer from flight from LAX to connect to flight to Hanoi. Seems tight, but Asiana assures me we whave a legal connection. So I've put us near the front of the plane and will ask the attendants to let the next gate know we are en route to boarding.

#14 ecurry33 has been a member since 28/8/2009. Posts: 12

Posted by daawgon on 23/9/2009 at 01:05

You have nothing to worry about - remember that there are several others on your flight from the States going to Hanoi. Asiana will make sure you get there. Coming back - no doubt Asiana will be putting you up free of charge at one of the hotels in Seoul or Incheon. They even do this for us in economy since the connection time is > 8 hours. I think you will notice quite an upgrade from KE to OZ!

#15 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,111


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