Vietnam is among the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, and there's little wonder why. Between the country's history, its amazing street food culture and dirt cheap beer, Vietnam has so much to offer.
Yet there has never been a direct flight from the U.S. to Vietnam, largely because of regulatory and safety hurdles. Getting from the U.S. to Vietnam requires a stop in other Asian cities like Hong Kong (HKG), Taipei (TPE), Tokyo (NRT), Singapore (SIN), or others.
But that could change fast. Citing unnamed sources, Reuters reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to give Vietnam a top-tier, Category 1 safety rating. That's the safety rating necessary for airlines to fly in and out of the U.S., and it's been a major roadblock for carriers like Vietnam Airlines.
Unnamed U.S. officials told Reuters that the safety rating could come “in the coming weeks.”
Vietnam Airlines has been eyeing flights to the U.S. for years. A SkyTeam alliance airline and partner with Delta, the airline specifically mentioned flights between Los Angeles (LAX) and Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) when it ordered new Airbus A350s back in 2016.
Bamboo Airways, a brand new Vietnamese airline, has also expressed interest in flying to the U.S.
This is far from over, but it's an exciting development. Non-stop flights between the U.S. and Vietnam are long overdue.
Between the large population of Vietnamese natives going to visit their home country and travelers' growing interest in the Southeast Asian country, these flights could be massively popular. And critically, Vietnam Airlines already has the planes necessary to make the long trip. Its fleet of Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s is more than up for the job of crossing the Pacific Ocean.
And Vietnam Airlines' partnership with Delta makes this even more exciting. The prospect of using SkyMiles to fly to Vietnam and back is thrilling.
Hanoi is one of our favorite cities in the world. But Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Phu Quoc, Da Nang, and other cities should be on everyone's list, as well. And it may soon get much easier to get there.
Fingers crossed that this pans out, and fast.
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Lead photo courtesy of Bruno Geiger via Flickr
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.