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Vietnam Airlines voiced its support for a nonstop flight to Los Angeles (LAX) back in 2016. The only problem? International carriers need the Federal Aviation Administration’s blessing to fly from their home nation into the United States.

This week the FAA announced that “Vietnam complies with international safety standards and has been granted a Category 1 rating under the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.” In lay terms, that means that Vietnamese airlines that are able to secure the requisite FAA and DOT authority can establish service to the United States and carry the code of US carriers.

Bamboo Airways has aspirations of flying to the United States (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Vietnam-based Bamboo Airways — which our own JT Genter recently flew — has goals to fly to the US by 2021. Vietnam Airlines, already a member of the SkyTeam alliance, likely wants to do the same much more quickly.

Quite the haul between SGN and LAX (Render courtesy of Great Circle Mapper)
Quite the haul between SGN and LAX (Render courtesy of Great Circle Mapper)

Vietnam Airlines became the second operator of the A350 in 2015 after Qatar Airways and has expressed interest in using an A350-900 to fly between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and Los Angeles (LAX). If that transpires, it’ll become one of the longest flights in the world at 8,169 miles.

In fact, TPG himself reviewed the carrier’s A350 on a jaunt between Paris and Hanoi.

The news is of particular interest for Delta and SkyTeam loyalists. One of our favorite ways to overcome Delta’s lofty MQD requirements for top-tier Platinum and Diamond Medallion elite status is to book cheap business class fares on long-haul flights using SkyTeam partners. When booking on partners but crediting miles back to Delta, you earn MQDs as a percentage of distance flown rather than dollars spent.

Vietnam Airlines is indeed a Delta partner, with its latest mileage accrual chart shown above. While the carrier isn’t a Tier-1 partner, you can see that a hypothetical SNG–LAX flight would earn 1,633 MQDs (20% of 8,169 miles flown) if holding a business, premium economy or full economy ticket. If you’re able to score a discounted fare, you could spend less than $1,633 each way and yet still earn 1,633 MQDs toward Delta elite status. You can dive deeper with our guide to maximizing Delta earnings when flying on SkyTeam partners.

Of course, you’ll first need to wait for Vietnam Airlines itself to become cleared for nonstop travel into the United States, but it’s definitely a carrier worth keeping on your radar given Vietnam’s new ICAO safety rating.

Featured photo courtesy of Airbus.

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