Bamboo Airways is a private airline which launched in 2017 and has expanded quickly, with a fleet of over 30 aircraft and a stated aim to reach 42 aircraft by the end of 2023.
It has a long haul fleet of three B787-9 aircraft which were originally intended for Hainan Airways which was unable to take the deliveries because of financial reasons. The airline flies weekly from London Heathrow to Hanoi, and also weekly from Gatwick to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. It is possible that because of the problems at Heathrow, and the cost of operating from there, it will move this one weekly flight from London to Hanoi over to London Gatwick.
I recorded a review of the flight onboard and this can be viewed above (or on Business Traveller’s Youtube channel)
I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 0900 for my 1205 departure on QH24 to Hanoi, a flight time of 11 hours and 25 minutes. Check-in was in Zone G, and there was a long queue for economy but no queue for business class. I dropped off my bag and then went up to security.
Both Fast Track and the main queue were long, and since I was not sure if the ticket got me fast track security, I queued for 10 minutes in the main queue and then was through. Bamboo has an arrangement with No 1 Lounge, but after doing some shopping I arrived at the lounge to see a long queue stretching to the stairs, so I walked back and went to wait at Gate 32.
Boarding took place from 1130 with families with small children being called first and then business class passengers.
Although Bamboo only has three B787s, there are two different configurations of business class, and two different seats. This was the two-class configuration of economy and business. On the return a week later, we had the three-class configuration with premium economy and a different type of seat (the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat). I’ll post a link to that review shortly.
In this two-class version, the cabin starts at row 11 and goes back to row 19, 1-2-1 (A DG-K), and then there are two centre seats on the back row 20 (DG) to make a total of 26 seats.
This seat is a reverse herringbone, which doesn’t mean the seats face backwards but rather that the window seats angle towards the windows while the middle seats are angled towards one another (original herringbone got its name because it looked like that when viewed from above).
This is the Safran Cirrus seat (which used to be called Zodiac Cirrus). Each seat has a thin arm rest which rises or lowers (it has to be down for take-off), and then a further triangular arm rest which stays down which has a storage compartment within it. During flight, if both of these are down you have a good amount of room for your shoulders and arms when sleeping, or you could raise the thinner arm rest to give you some privacy / protection from the aisle.
There is storage under the footrest and there was no note saying it could not be used during take off and landing so I put my laptop (in its case) there. Before take-off noise cancelling headphones were handed out and there was a space in the wall of the seat for them to hang when they are not in use. The overhead lockers differ in size between the centre seats (smaller) and window seats (larger). There is a foot hole in the side of the seat so you can boost yourself up without having to resort to standing on the arm rest, which presumably isn’t very good for them.
The table folds out from the side table and then is bi-fold and was firm and good for working and eating. One quirk with the table is that it doesn’t move forward to backwards, so if you want to get closer to it you move the seat (with you in it) closer to the table.
The Inflight Entertainment screen was a good quality and had a rotating air map which I had on for most of the journey. The choice of films and TV was limited and not particularly up to date. Power comes from a universal AC power outlet and a USB charger port.
They are all good. If you are travelling with a friend or loved on, go for the centre seats, though I’d avoid the back row – row 20 in this configuration, since your are right against the galley with your head and will get some noise, and I’ probably avoid 19A and 19K for the same reason – 1 K has the wardrobe behind it. Note that the centre seats have small luggage storage overhead but towards the back of the cabin the compartments are full of additional bedding and some inflight supplies (at least on this trip).
Before take-off we were offered a choice of two healthy drinks, one green, and one red. The green one had some ginger in it and a good kick. There was no offer of champagne or sparkling wine, and in fact there wasn’t any on board. We were also given a very substantial amenity bag with all the usual items in it, all wrapped in plastic, unfortunately.
After take-off our orders were taken for both drinks and food. There was a choice of two white wines and two red; namely a sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand and a chardonnay from Pay d’Oc, France and a merlot from Chile and a shiraz from Australia. The meal service included draping a table cloth over the table. A small bowl of unsalted cashews were offered along with the first drinks. The menus were shown to us on an ipad which I suppose makes environmental sense, but it does mean it’s difficult to take notes and tell you exactly what was on offer, though I took some photos, and so I can list it as follows:
- Braised beef with mashed potatoes
- Korean style chicken rice with kimchi
- Salmon and cous cous
Along with this were two bread rolls and a salad with a lime and chilli dressing. I had ordered a vegan meal which was a red pepper filled with cous cous along with two salads. Desserts and cheese were brought round on a separate trolley which was presented in a very impressive way.
Once the meal service had ended I settled down to work, using the in-seat power, and after a few hours, wanted to get some sleep.
I had a feeling that there would be an underblanket or under sheet for the seat, so I asked a flight attendant, and he made the bed with a brown under sheet which looped over the headrest to keep it in place, and then there was a small, Bamboo Airways branded pillow, and also a comfortable blue blanket. I did notice that most people had just reclined and gone to sleep, so it seems a shame they didn’t know there was this option.
The bed is fairly comfortable, though when fully reclined there is a sort of gap and also lump where the back of the seat reclines to meet the part of the seat you have been sitting on, and I found if I just raised the seat a couple of degrees this was more comfortable. The crew had brought round bottles of water, and with ear plugs and eye mask from the amenity kit I had all I needed to sleep for a couple of hours – I could perhaps have slept longer if it was an overnight flight in terms of UK time, but instead I felt I was sleeping in the early evening.
I then read for a while, and around two and a half hours before landing we had a breakfast offering.
- Sticky rice with pate
- Singapore stir fried noodles
- Ham and cheese quiche
- Sliced fresh fruits
I had been chatting with one of the flight attendants and she told me Vietnamese coffee was something special, and so before landing she brought me some with the distinctive drip way of serving it.
We arrived on time into Hanoi and were quickly disembarked. It seemed we were one of the first flights to arrive, and were quickly through immigration. A few minutes later our bags appeared and then we walked out of the airport to find out taxi into the city.
This was an excellent flight. It’s difficult to speak about the price / value equation at the moment because all air fares are rising so quickly at the moment, but this is a very modern business class seat on a modern aircraft with good service and an on time arrival with no problems with the luggage. I hope Bamboo succeeds.
Flight duration 11 hours and 25 minutes
Seat length 79 inches
Seat width 22-28 inches (depending on arm rest and seat position)