Little-known Vietnamese carrier Bamboo Airways is set to plant its flag in Australia next year, eyeing regular flights between Melbourne and Hanoi from mid-2021.
Using its Boeing 787-9 aircraft, Bamboo Airways would offer business class and premium economy service, in addition to economy.
The airline’s Dreamliner business class cabin comes equipped with 26 seats in a 1-2-1 layout, based upon the same ‘Super Diamond’ seat as Australian travellers may recognise from the likes of Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Signature Class, Fiji Airways’ A350 business class, and of course, Virgin Australia’s now-defunct ‘The Business’ cabin.
Serving as a suitable workspace for daytime flying and transforming into a fully-flat bed after hours, high flyers can stretch out and relax on what would be the nine-hour journey between Melbourne and Hanoi.
A cosy premium economy cabin of just three rows features 21 seats in a 2-3-2 layout, again based on an off-the-shelf design: similar to the Delta Premium Select cabin on Sydney-Los Angeles flights, with a leg rest and 38 inches of pitch for ample legroom.
“Australia is one of the most important source markets of Vietnam … (and we are) aiming to develop a regular direct route into operation in 2021,” confirms Bamboo Airways Deputy General Director, Nguyen Ngoc Trong.
Melbourne Airport looks forward to “enhancing our nonstop service to Vietnam on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in 2021, including to Hanoi for the first time, which opens up critical trade, leisure and business opportunities for Victoria,” adds the airport’s Chief of Aviation, Shane O’Hare.
The news follows a one-off Bamboo Airways repatriation flight from Melbourne to Hanoi on September 6, with the commencement of regular services to Melbourne tied to the easing of international travel restrictions from Australia.
Bamboo Airways status match for Qantas frequent flyers
Bamboo Airways doesn’t currently have an Australian airline partner – and isn’t a member of a global alliance – but its Bamboo Club loyalty program is free to join, even if its Emerald, Gold, Diamond and First tier levels are confusingly-named.
Emerald is the program’s entry-level tier (akin to Qantas Bronze or Velocity Red), while Bamboo Club Gold resembles Silver status as Australians might know it.
Bamboo Club Diamond is instead most comparable to Qantas or Velocity Gold, while Bamboo Club First is Bamboo Airways’ equivalent of Qantas or Velocity Platinum.
Until the end of 2020, Bamboo Airways is offering a status match to all tiered Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam frequent flyers – a roster that includes Qantas and Vietnam Airlines cardholders – although Virgin Australia Velocity doesn’t make the cut.
(Of course, Virgin Australia Velocity members who took the opportunity to match their Velocity status to the Privilege Club program of Oneworld’s Qatar Airways could use that matched Privilege Club status for an onward status match to Bamboo Airways.)
Here’s how the tiers line up:
- Bamboo Club First (top-tier): Match from Oneworld Emerald (Qantas and Qatar Platinum, and above), Star Alliance Gold, SkyTeam Elite Plus, and Vietnam Airlines Platinum.
- Bamboo Club Diamond: Match from Oneworld Sapphire (Qantas and Qatar Gold), and Vietnam Airlines Gold.
- Bamboo Club Gold: Match from Oneworld Ruby (Qantas and Qatar Silver), Star Alliance Silver, SkyTeam Elite, and Vietnam Airlines Titan.
However, there’s a catch: to be eligible for the status match, the traveller needs to have already completed one business class flight with Bamboo Airways – such as on domestic routes within Vietnam, or short-range flights across Asia – or must purchase a ‘Bamboo Pass’.
The airline’s Bamboo Pass is a prepaid bundle of flights, with prices beginning at 21.9 million VND (A$1,295) for 20 Vietnamese domestic flights, which makes little sense for Australian travellers right now: particularly with Australia’s international travel restrictions in place.
As such, the airline’s status match offer will be of most use once the airline’s Melbourne flights begin, provided that offer is extended, as has already once been the case.
Prior to COVID-19, Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar connected Melbourne with Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, although non-stop flights from Australia to Hanoi ran exclusively from Sydney on Bamboo Airways’ rival Vietnam Airlines: a route the airline launched in 2017.