Good morning from Addis Ababa! We just flew from Beijing to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. On this US Airways 90,000 mile business class award, Ethiopian was probably the airline I was most excited to fly, since it seemed the most “unique.”
Since I partly review airline products for a living, personally I don’t really care if a flight is great or awful. Great flights are of course great, but awful flights are usually even more interesting to write about.
Well, I’m happy to report that I was actually kind of impressed by Ethiopian Airlines, all things considered. No, they’re not at risk of becoming a Skytrax five star airline, but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid them in the future, as I may have done in the past.
Ethiopian 787 business class seat
Ethiopian has 24 angled business class seats on their 787s. They’re spread across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.
Ethiopian 787 seatmap per SeatGuru
It’s kind of disappointing that they’re introducing an angled product on this brand new aircraft, given how outdated angled seats are.
For what it’s worth, LOT Polish fits a total of 18 business class seats spread across three rows in the same area that Ethiopian fits four. But other than that the seats were about identical to LOT’s – the seat controls, center console, etc., were all the same.
While the seats are fairly comfortable for lounging, you will be sleeping at an angle, which is less than ideal.
I do have to mention that the cabin was in immaculate condition. I don’t think I saw a single scratch or defect. But I guess that makes sense, since this flight was operated by one of Ethiopian’s newest 787s (contrast that to my LOT 787 flight, which was partly being held together by duct tape).
Ethiopian business class food
This flight was a redeye, departing Beijing just after midnight, and arriving in Addis Ababa at around 6AM.
As a result, the meal service was abbreviated. For supper there was a salad (also referred to as a”hot snack”) and main course served on one tray.
My main course consisted of prawns and rice, which I have to say was very good, despite not looking especially gourmet or appetizing. Catering out of China is typically horrible, in my experience, so I was pleasantly surprised.
The strawberry mousse dessert was equally good.
Ethiopian business class service
The crew was warm yet reserved. There were three flight attendants working business class — Fassika, Welebe, and Gelina – and they were generally quite attentive.
I did kind of feel like the “locals” got slightly better service than we did, but that may have just been a function of cultural familiarity (I often feel the same way on Japanese airlines, even though I know they’re trying to be friendly).
On another note, I realize that I was completely under dressed for this flight. We were the only male passengers not wearing a three-piece neon colored suit and top hat. Next time I’ll come dressed as Mr. Peanut.
Ethiopian business class amenities
Upon boarding I was offered an amenity kit, which was well stocked and… really red!
The inflight entertainment system was decent enough, with TV shows, movies, and enough Taylor Swift songs to keep you depressed all the way to Ethiopia.
How many pilots do we have?!
Remember that Ethiopian flight a few months back that was hijacked by the first officer when he locked the captain out of the cockpit, and he wouldn’t land the plane until he was granted amnesty in Switzerland?
Well of course I couldn’t help but think about that during this flight. Not that I was scared, but I was curious to observe the pilots. Of course the rogue pilot was the exception and not the rule, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t curious.
Best I could tell there were three pilots, and they all seemed exceptionally friendly. During takeoff one of them was seated in the last row of business class. Then after takeoff another came back to business class to take a seat.
As far as I know, that left one pilot in the cockpit. He made a welcome aboard announcement, which included “we’re maintaining our assigned altitude,” as if that’s somehow supposed to be worth mentioning. 😉
Then later another pilot went into the flight deck, but for at least the first two hours of the flight two pilots seemed to be on break, while there was only one in the cockpit as far as I could tell. I could be totally mistaken and maybe there was a fourth pilot, but I looked pretty closely and don’t believe that was the case.
Not trying to draw any conclusions, but just found that interesting.
Ethiopian business class bottom line
While I wish Ethiopian would have fully flat seats, the cabin was in immaculate condition, food very good but limited, and service generally good. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Ethiopian again in the future, and think they’re an asset to the Star Alliance.