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Your first, exclusive look inside the Bamboo Airways 787 that’ll fly to the U.S.

Jan. 10, 2020
5 min read
Your first, exclusive look inside the Bamboo Airways 787 that’ll fly to the U.S.
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You may not have heard of Bamboo Airways, but if the Vietnamese airline's plans come to fruition, you will soon.

Bamboo Airways is a newly launched carrier that’s beginning to enter the international market. The airline’s domestic expansion has been impressive, and it plans to use the introduction of the 787 to catapult it through its next growth spurt.The airline has committed to starting long-haul flights, including to destinations in the United States.

On a domestic flight between Ho Chi Min City and Hanoi, I got a taste of what people can expect from Bamboo, and a look inside the brand-new Dreamliner it just took delivery of.

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The plane, delivered from Boeing’s assembly plant in Charleston in December, still smells new. The airline chose a three-cabin configuration with business, premium economy and economy class for this aircraft. Based on leaked seat maps, Bamboo plans to install first class suites on future 787s. (There is currently no way to use credit-card points or partner miles to book Bamboo flights, although the airline does have a frequent-flyer program.)

Though Bamboo chose standard reverse herringbone business-class seats, it did a great job with the finishes. While I loved the muted tones throughout the cabin, we’ll see how well the tan colored seats age with time.

The 26 seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. The window seats are angled inwards toward the window, while the aisle seats face each other.

There are two enclosed storage compartments located along the side of the seat, and one features an IFE remote, power outlet and USB port.

The literature pocket is exposed on the side, next to the well-placed accent lamp. The IFE screen measures 18.5 inches, and is very crisp. Unfortunately, since the plane is so new, the IFE software hasn’t been loaded yet.

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Similarly, the plane’s outfitted with Panasonic Wi-Fi, but it hasn’t been connected yet. My iPhone picked up a bunch of unsecured networks, though none of them worked.

In my opinion, the best solo seats are in the first row, Row 11. There’s no neighbor in the center, and the privacy divider is enough to keep you isolated from the galley.

All the footwells are quite large, so there’s no advantage to choosing the bulkhead center seats. There’s a small space to store shoes just below the footwell.

If you end up in a center seat and don’t know your neighbor, there’s a privacy divider that’s helpful in creating your own personal space.

Each seat has an armrest that lowers. When up, the seat measures 21 inches wide, and you’ll get about 7 more inches of width if you sleep with it down. The armrest also doubles as a small storage compartment.

As to be expected for a new seat, the 71-inch long fully flat bed is quite comfortable.

The bi-fold tray table extends from under the TV, and measures 17 inches long and 18.5 inches wide. It easily moves along its track, so you can get in and out during the meal service.

The bathrooms, of which there‘s only one dedicated to biz, is of the standard Dreamliner variety. However, the shared one between biz and premium economy features a window.

You’ll also find the Dreamliner-exclusive dimmable windows throughout the plane.

I got a chance to peek at premium economy as well. The 21 seats are arranged in 2-3-2 configuration.

Each seat has a footrest and IFE screen, as well as remote in the armrest.

The seats look quite comfortable, though the recline isn’t overly generous. They reminded me of the Premium Plus seats that United installed on its Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner.

As is standard for the Dreamliner, the 247 economy seats were in a 3-3-3 layout. I couldn’t get a picture of the cabin, but there wasn’t anything particularly exciting about it anyway.

Aside from the hard product, I got a taste of Bamboo Airways’ soft product on my short hop between Ho Chi Min City and Hanoi.

Service began with cold towels and predeparture beverages of choice. I really liked the Bamboo Airways tableware, which was nicely embossed with the airline's logo.

Breakfast was served once airborne, and I selected the continental option. While tasty, it was just breakfast, so I wouldn’t want to generalize about the quality of the food based on my breadbasket, fruit and yogurt.

Most importantly, though, the flight attendants serving business class couldn’t have been friendlier. They kept my water refilled and checked on me no less than five times during the 75-minute flight.

If my short hop is any indication, Bamboo Airways is well on its way to reaching new heights.

All photos by the author