It’s always disappointing to see routes I flew on discontinued. I always have the same reaction “I just flew that route!”. According to this post on FlyerTalk, United is ending service to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. United didn’t fly to SGN from the US, but rather ran a fifth freedom flight from HKG.
The HKG-SGN route was catered to people coming and going to the US. The flight departed HKG at 11:05 PM and arrived the following calendar day at 12:50 AM. 11:05 PM is definitely a late departure and not the norm for HKG. At that time, many of the shops and restaurants are already closed (at least in the area the flight departed from). This flight was also at a gate that was pretty far away from the United Club as well. What that late departure did was let any connecting US traffic go on to SGN without an overnight stay. Hong Kong’s home carrier, Cathay Pacific, has some late departures to SGN but they don’t seem to be daily like United’s service was.
The flight departed SGN at the ungodly hour of 5:35 AM and arrived in HKG at 9:10 AM. But again, what this did was allow passengers connecting to the US to make those flights. The HKG-SFO/ORD flights depart around 11 AM and HKG-EWR departs at 10 AM, which leaves a 50 minute connection time. This flight got a US passenger from SGN to the US with one stop and minimal layover time which is pretty good.
I recently flew HKG-SGN-HKG in October of 2015. Saigon is a great city and is worth a visit. There is a visa process for US Citizens, but its pretty simple. You just mail in a completed form, check, and passport and you’ll receive your passport and visa back around a week or so later.
United has mentioned with the ending of this service they will work with their Asian partner ANA to ensure connecting traffic to SGN is handled properly. We’ll see what comes of that. Instead of connecting in HKG, the connection would be in NRT or HND. I personally like to minimize my flying time on partner airlines. When flying on United I can book Economy+ at no additional charge which is great when flying long haul flights. Additionally, Asian carriers seem to be hit or miss on having personal air vents on their planes.
I can’t imagine there was that much demand from the US for United to operate this flight. It’s not surprising it has ended. Even with United ending service to SGN, I would definitely go back!