Imagine our surprise when we got off the VietJet transfer bus and saw an Olympus Airways (https://www.olympusairways.gr/) plane on the tarmac in front of us. We were even more surprised when we got on the plane to Da Nang and there was an entirely European crew wearing one type of uniform plus two crew members in VietJet uniforms. It seemed like no one really knew what was going on and it definitely felt like a flying Greyhound bus. A flying bus where the driver was allowed to smoke. Every time the cockpit door opened a waft of cigarette smoke descended on the cabin. I can just picture a couple of Greek pilots chain smoking, wondering how they got themselves into this situation. No wonder they had the curtain closed to hide the galley in the front. Apparently Olympus is the Uber of the air. They have a fleet of 4 planes and outsource to various companies since their original route from Greece to Germany didn’t really pan out. I wonder if the crew ever gets to go home or if they live on the plane as indentured servants. They did look a bit harried and like they might sleep in their uniforms. The VietJet employees looked a lot more refreshed. Maybe they get to leave at night.
Not only did the plane smell like cigarettes and urine but the Korean gentlemen in the row in front complained bitterly about their seats being unacceptably more pungent than the already pervasive smell so they tried to move into the first row. It wasn’t first class but either way, the crew definitely wasn’t having it so they settled into the second row. I’m not sure I would want to be that close to the restroom since the entire plane already smelled like pee and my thoughts are that is was coming from the front… Better to be six rows back hoping to avoid the restroom. If you were unlucky, you had a seatmate who smelled like body odor. Unfortunately my travel mate had just that. His neighbor needed a shower and decided to take off his shoes, as did most of the plane. He also put his foot on the seat and his knee was in my friend’s personal space. I am all for sharing arm rests with the person in the middle but bare feet and a knee? Not so much.
The one surprising part of the flight was that the food was actually edible. I didn’t order any but I got the low-down from someone who did. It actually had taste and looked like real food. Go VietJet. For the rest of us, there were “Sales on Board” if you could catch the cart. The Greek flight attendant practically sprinted down the aisle, probably trying to avoid the sea of humanity and chaos on the flight. I don’t even know what was on the cart since it went by so quickly. Maybe he was trying to avoid the needy family in front of us who seemed to cram 10 people into 6 seats…
Fortunately it was only an hour flight but when we landed it felt like I had been on a two day trip from the sensory overload. I did regret my choice of checking luggage based on the disorganization of the flight and the general deterioration of the plane. Fortunately it arrived in one piece and solidified my resolve to never check a bag again.
Our flight back to Saigon two days later was on a “real” VietJet plane and definitely felt less disruptive. Not quite calm but at least it didn’t smell like cigarette smoke and urine. I was sad that I didn’t see the Olympus plane on the tarmac. Not that I wanted to fly it again but I was hoping the flustered crew got a break. I think that next time I will pay a little more and choose Vietnam Airlines with the hope that it is a little less like a bus or an Uber of the air.