This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards