Airports must do more to improve services
Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers about their experiences when visiting the country's airports and suggestions to improve airport services.
A 18-year-old female student from Ha Noi committed suicide three days ago after one of her friends made fun of her by using photoshop to create pictures using her face combined with the naked body of an unknown model, then posted them on Facebook, one of the most popular social networks in Viet Nam.
The victim was extremely shocked and felt utterly ashamed before taking her own life. The case has sparked anger from the public. However, no one took responsibility for her death because there is no standing legislation to deal with this type of case.
Previously, a 20-year-old girl posted a video clip of herself to show off her "hot" body on her account on Facebook, which received thousands of "likes" from Facebook's users.
We get many positive benefits from social networks as they help us to quickly share information with our friends. However, the negative impacts on youngsters' lifestyles are still a major challenge for Viet Nam's authorities.
Are you a fan of social networks? Can you share your experiences on how to avoid becoming victims of social networks? What should the Vietnamese authorities do to handle these kinds of cases? Is it necessary to plug the gap in the country's legal framework when handling these cases to bring the situation under control? How do the authorities in your country deal with these sorts of cases?
Please reply by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 79 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received no later than Thursday morning, July 11, 2013. — VNS
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Bangkok
The last thing I want to do at an airport is to shop or eat. I have never received a decent service at either Sai Gon or Ha Noi's airports. I do not want to overpay for a taxi, and I should be able to get a public bus (they are not always finished for the day), even well into the evening. There should be free trolleys for your luggage and there should also be water freely available throughout the waiting area.
Another rip-off is being charged higher rates when exchanging currency. Why do all these problems, and more, exist in every airport I have passed through? It is due to simply being a monopoly.
Why not employ interns, such as tourism, business or English students as Information Ambassadors for a practical and inter-cultural experience? They could also hand out surveys on Vietnam Airlines for constant and accurate feedback from passengers. Guaranteed prices at established franchises would also be helpful.
Until customer services are considered top priority, the only service I will use at an airport is the toilet.
Yoe Kapay, Burmese, Yangon
Long queues of passengers crowding around the only working baggage reclaim conveyor in Noi Bai Airport is the first image that pops into my head when I think of Viet Nam's airports. It took me one and a half hours to collect my luggage once. It was not good experience!
If there were more reclaim conveyors, passengers would not have to compete with each other when collecting their baggage and this would save them a lot of time.
One more thing is that the immigration officers seem unfriendly because when they didn't understand me, one of them raised his voice. This made all the other passengers stare at me like I was some kind of criminal. However they also saw how rude the customs officer was to me. I wish they could be more polite.
There is no doubt that airport experiences can make or break a holiday. Rude staff and long queues can test the patience of even the most experienced traveller.
Staff at airports, especially customs officers, are ambassadors for their country and a simple incident can change people's attitudes to the entire country. So, Viet Nam should make an effort to give tourists a good impression from the very moment they step foot inside the country.
Arti Samakari, Indian, Sydney
I have just transited from Changi Airport, which I consider a shopping and entertainment centre with restaurants and hotels.
It was great when I had the chance to not only watch TV, but to also get a free seat in one of the cinemas in the terminal's lounges. There are also music corners where you can listen to your favourite tunes in a comfortable booth. I could also update my Facebook status or send a Tweet because of the free wi-fi at a free internet station.
There are gardens of orchids, sunflowers, cacti and also butterflies in the Departures Transit Lounge.
The shopaholic in me is also satisfied because the shops within the airport's terminals range from high-street labels such as Billabong to high-end luxury brands such as Dior, Gucci and Burberry.
The food and drinks here are wonderful and deserve to be eaten at the same prices as other in places.
Although having no time to try, I found out that for travellers with over five hours to wait in transit, they are offered a free tour of Singapore to discover some of the city's most iconic sights.
The airports in Thailand and Malaysia are also very good.
Of course, I don't want Viet Nam's airports to just turn into different versions of Changi Airport. However, at the very least the services available should satisfy passengers in terms of quality and prices. It is essential that the authorities make sure that passengers don't feel they are being cheated. If not, they may never want to return or try any others.
All staff in the country's airports should bear in mind that airports are where passengers get their first impressions of your country.
Thach Anh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I was surprised when the manager of an airport advised passengers not to compare the prices of the services on offer at Viet Nam's airports with other places.
Nothing will change for the better if he keeps on like that.
Just last month, a French friend of mine changed his euros into dong at an airport and was cheated when he only received VND2.1 million for 100 euros. It actually should have been VND2.7 million. My friend finally told me that passengers may only be cheated once but they will remember this for the rest of their life. Quibbling over a few hundred thousand dong can have a detrimental effect on the country's image and its people.
I think my friend is right.
There are no complaints about the cost of food and drinks in airports in neighbouring countries such as Laos or Cambodia, as they are little bit higher than most average places but are still reasonable. However in Viet Nam's airports, the price of food and drinks are extortionate.
Restaurants at airports this week published new lists of prices which are much lower than the previous ones. However, no one knows how long this will last or it is only a temporary arrangement.
The Vietnamese authorities who are making an effort to attract more tourists to the country should think more about training staff and ensuring professional services at the gates to the country.
Companies, shops or restaurants should prove they are competitive and meet minimum requirements before being licenced to operate in airports and airports should welcome international brand name coffee and fast-food shops.
None of these businesses should be prioritised to ensure a quality of service and if any are found to be contravening the regulations, their contracts should be ended immediately. — VNS