Vietnam Airlines operates 15 flights a day between Ho Chi Minh and Da Nang and 105 flights a week depending on the season.


I had checked in for my domestic connection to Da Nang at Heathrow’s Vietnam Airlines desk before for my flight from London to Ho Chi Minh City. After exiting baggage reclaim at 6am (departure was at 0800), I was given a baggage sticker and told that I needed clear security at the domestic terminal – a five-minute walk from international arrivals.

Once there, I bypassed the check-in counters on the ground floor, following signs to security on the first floor. I was met by an enormous queue of what looked like 150 people, which snaked from the front to the back of the hall. I joined the queue and made slow progress until I was approached, seemingly at random, by an attendant who ushered me through to an offshoot line. I’m not sure why this happened, but I was glad to be there as we moved quickly through, and was I eventually in departures by 0635.


There are a few restaurants and shops in the domestic departures hall, though many weren’t open at that time of the morning. I killed time in a noodle café until 0705, when the display screen showed that the flight would board at gate 6. My ticket stated that boarding would start at 0730, but I waited to join the queue until 0745. The flight was full, and I arrived at my seat (25G by the window) to find a child in it, next to her parents. The seat on the other side of the aisle (25C) was unoccupied, so I sat there instead.