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Why I’d Rather Stab Myself in the Eardrums than Fly VietJet This Holiday Season

By Dave Fox
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
December 19, 2016

If you want to fly cheap in Vietnam, VietJet is often your best bet. But this holiday season, I won’t be flying on the low-cost airline, due to an unfortunate incident last December that left me wishing I had a pair of ice picks with which I could stab myself in the eardrums.

vietjetIt was December 30, 2015. I had just flown from Danang to Saigon – a flight that, in theory, should take 50 minutes. In say “in theory” because, in my experience, VietJet doesn’t just offer great prices; they also treat their passengers to pre-boarding ceremonies, consisting of four hours of announcements that your flight has been delayed another 30 minutes.

But it wasn’t the pre-flight delay that made me wish I had a pair of ice picks (one per ear). It was the post-flight delay.

During most of the year, when you board and disembark from a Vietjet flight, the airline plays a song called “Hello Vietnam.” But starting in late October, they switch to a different tune, entitled, “Happy New Year.”

On this particular evening, as we taxied to a far corner of the runway, approximately halfway between Saigon and Danang, the New Year song began to play.

It stopped momentarily, so our pilot could make an announcement that we had to sit on the runway for a while, because, due to our delayed arrival, there was no gate where we could park the plane. Then the song came back on.

I had never liked the “Happy New Year” song. Now, trapped in my budget-airline seat, the lyrics began to register as I listened to them over and over.

I looked at my wife, Kattina.

“Did they just sing, ‘We might as well all lay down and die?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “They wouldn’t play that on an airplane.”

The song ended for the fifth or sixth time. Then it began again. The line repeated:

… May we all have our hopes, our will to try,
If we don’t, we might as well lay down and die,
You and I….

“What the hell?” I said. “Why are they playing a song like this on an airplane?”

The looping music continued. For thirty minutes, we sat, forbidden from leaving our seats on this remote scrap of runway, as the dreadfulness repeated, over and over.

At this point I did what we all should do if being held captive in this sort of hostage situation. I wrote about it on Facebook:

Currently trapped on a VietJet airplane on the runway in Saigon. Just flew in from Danang. No gate available so we have to sit here. On any other airline, it wouldn’t be so bad but VietJet’s music loop makes me want to stab my eardrums with ice picks.

Within minutes, my friend Nick, who had been living in Vietnam many more years than me, responded:

Ah, so it’s begun! Enjoy hearing this song all day, every day, everywhere in the city, until after Tet.

It was the day before New Year’s Eve. Tet, the lunar new year and Vietnam’s biggest annual holiday, was more than a month away.

Passengers were looking fidgety. To cheer them up, I began chiming in with my favorite line each time it came around:

… We might as well lay down and die
You and I….

The more I listened, the more flashes of depressing lyrics I began to catch. I Googled the words to find out who had composed such a disaster.

To my shock, it was the usually perky, Swedish supergroup, Abba. The lyrics to VietJet’s happy new year message went like this:

happy_new_year_abba_45No more champagne
And the fireworks are through
Here we are, me and you
Feeling lost and feeling blue
It’s the end of the party
And the morning seems so grey
So unlike yesterday
Now’s the time for us to say…

Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend
Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don’t, we might as well lay down and die
You and I

Sometimes I see
How the brave new world arrives
And I see how it thrives
In the ashes of our lives
Oh yes, man is a fool
And he thinks he’ll be okay
Dragging on, feet of clay
Never knowing he’s astray
Keeps on going anyway…

Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend
Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don’t, we might as well lay down and die
You and I

Seems to me now
That the dreams we had before
Are all dead, nothing more
Than confetti on the floor
It’s the end of a decade
In another ten years time
Who can say what we’ll find
What lies waiting down the line
In the end of eighty-nine…

Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend
Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don’t, we might as well lay down and die
You and I

I glared at the Swedish family across the aisle, mumbling Norwegian obscenities under my breath.

Finally, after what felt like a decade of torture, our plane’s engine fired up and we chugged to a different part of the runway, where a bus picked us up and delivered us to the terminal.

“We had to sit through 30 minutes of that before we could drive to another part of the runway?” I said.

“Maybe The bus didn’t have enough gas to reach us where we were parked,” Kattina replied.

I later discovered Nick was right. Various versions of this song assault Vietnam throughout the holidays in every grocery store, restaurant, and, I imagine, brothel. The difference between those businesses, versus an airplane, is you can leave.

As a foreigner living in this otherwise delightful country, I must give VietJet the benefit of the doubt. Their intentions, I assume, are not actually to encourage their passengers to lay down and die.

My guess is that whoever at the airline decided it would be appropriate to play music about how our dreams are all dead now could understand only the innocuous title, “Happy New Year.”

My other guess is the same person picked out the “Hello Vietnam” song VietJet plays during the rest of the year. That song, recorded by Vietnamese-Belgian singer Quyen Anh, tells the story of a person of Vietnamese descent who longs to one-day visit her country of ancestry.

“All I know of you is the sights of war,” Quyen Anh croons. “A film by Coppola. The helicopter’s roar.”

It too plays over and over, in a single-track loop, before take-off and after landing on Vietjet flights throughout the rest of the year.

And so, to reiterate, if you are wanting to fly cheap in Vietnam, VietJet is an excellent choice, as long as you are not in a hurry and are deaf. To the rest of you, be forewarned: aviation regulations forbid you from cranking up your own music on your headphones during take-off and landing. And ice picks are forbidden on airplanes.

 

Published on Monday, December 19, 2016

2 Responses to “Why I’d Rather Stab Myself in the Eardrums than Fly VietJet This Holiday Season”

  1. anthony
    January 17, 2017 at 10:52 AM

    omg my wife and i had the same experience just recently with vietjet lol…. these two songs made me want to definitely icepick my eardrums! but you gotta give it to them though, hello vietnam is a catchy song, so catchy that i sung it the rest of the trip. one daaaaaaaaay

  2. January 18, 2017 at 10:47 AM

    My Vietnamese gf and I flew VietJet last year because it was, by far, the cheapest flight available. During the first flight she turned to me and asked, “Can we never fly VietJet again?” She later said she’d rather ride the bus for 7 hours from Da Lat to Saigon than fly on VietJet.

    I agree!

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