* Article updated 17:26 UTC 04/11/2021 with Bamboo Airways statement *
Earlier this week, Bamboo Airways marked a significant milestone in the airline’s short history by operating its inaugural non-repatriation flight to London Heathrow Airport. The only previous time that the up-and-coming Vietnamese leisure carrier has visited the British capital was early in the pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at this exciting inaugural service.
A long time coming
On the morning of October 30th, Bamboo Airways flight QH9051 touched down at London Heathrow Airport (LHR). The airline’s inaugural non-repatriation flight to the British capital took nearly 14 hours to jet over from Hanoi’s Nội Bài International Airport (HAN). However, in reality, this is something that Bamboo has been working towards for a long time.
According to data from ch-aviation.com, the carrier presently has three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliers in its fleet. It received these in December 2019 and January 2020, and would have loved to have put them to work on exciting long-haul routes. However, the onset of coronavirus last spring meant that some of their early missions were repatriation flights.
Do you have friends or family stuck in Vietnam?
There are worse places to be right now, but if they want to come home then Bamboo Airways has a special repatriation flight from Hanoi to Heathrow on Sunday 10 May.
More details from the Foreign Office here.https://t.co/Io0Pe6RvOg
— Simon Calder (@SimonCalder) May 8, 2020
As Simple Flying explored in May 2020, two of these rescue services to Europe were followed by a third from Hanoi to London. Since then, Bamboo Airways has been working hard to establish a more permanent link to the British capital. It finally secured slots at LHR earlier this year, with a spokesperson describing the UK’s busiest airport as a “top priority.”
Get your boarding pass to the flight of the year. The Future Flying Forum is taking off soon!
The first non-repatriation flight
Bamboo’s goal of serving London on a regular basis has now taken a step closer to becoming a reality, with the operation of its first non-repatriation flight to the British capital. As seen below, the airline proudly took to Twitter yesterday to announce the arrival of flight QH9051 at Heathrow. According to RadarBox.com, it touched down at 07:27.
Bamboo Airways' Boeing 787-9 named Sam Son Beach finally landed in pride at Heathrow Airport, London.
The flight with nearly 13 flight hours and nearly 12.000km has marked a new milestone about efforts and success of Bamboo Airways in world aviation.#BambooAirways #TheUK pic.twitter.com/N8VyNguiaB
— Bamboo Airways (@bamboo_airways) October 30, 2021
Data from RadarBox also showed that the flight had departed from Hanoi at 23:26 local time the previous day. This gave the milestone flight a total duration of 13 hours and 49 minutes. Regarding full schedules, a Bamboo spokesperson told Simple Flying that:
“We expect to officially start the commercial operation of direct flights connecting Hanoi (Noi Bai Airport) and Ho Chi Minh City (Tan Son Nhat Airport) with the UK (London Heathrow Airport) from the end of this year.”
The pride of Bamboo’s fleet
The aircraft that operated this special flight bore the registration VN-A818, and was still in London at the time of writing. This was one of two Boeing 787-9s that Bamboo Airways took delivery of on January 15th, 2020. The Dreamliner is the carrier’s long-haul flagship, and data from ch-aviation shows that it also has a further 11 examples on order.
After gaining slots at Heathrow airport earlier in the year, Bamboo Airways hinted that the new route is to be announced soon. They also have a charter to Manchester later this month, times tbc. Thanks to @Adrian7_43 for the insta heads up. pic.twitter.com/dwVbO6VZdv
— SPD travels 🚄✈️🌉 (@SPD_travels) October 9, 2021
Despite being a leisure-focussed airline, Bamboo’s 787s offer passengers a great deal of comfort. These modern twinjets seat 294 passengers. 247 of these enjoy seatback entertainment and a seat pitch of up to 32 inches in economy class.
There is also a 21-seat premium economy cabin, where wider seats with a 38-inch pitch are laid out in a seven-abreast configuration. Finally, all 24 business class passengers have direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration, with full flatbed seats.
What do you make of this inaugural flight? Have you ever flown with Bamboo Airways? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.