Ethiopian Flying Los Angeles to Dublin Starting June 2015!

In July I posted about Ethiopian Airlines’ announcement that Los Angeles would become their second US destination as of 2015. At the time they announced that the flight between Addis Ababa and Los Angeles would stop in Dublin, which seemed like an interesting choice. As usual I never trust these airline announcements until the schedules are actually loaded and the flights go on sale.

Well, much to my surprise Ethiopian Airlines has followed through on this.

Ethiopian Airlines will fly to Los Angeles

Ethiopian Airlines will begin 3x weekly Boeing 787-8 flights between Addis Ababa and Los Angeles as of June 3, 2015. The flight will operate westbound on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and eastbound on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Ethiopian-Business-Class-767-19
Ethiopian Airlines 787

The flight will stop in Dublin in both directions, and most interesting is that they’ll have fifth freedom rights between Dublin and Los Angeles. So if you’d like, you can fly Ethiopian exclusively between Europe and the US now.

Ethiopian-LAX

The new Ethiopian flight will operate with the following schedule:

ET504 Addis Ababa to Dublin departing 11:00PM arriving 5:30AM (+1 day)
ET504 Dublin to Los Angeles departing 6:30AM arriving 9:30AM

ET505 Los Angeles to Dublin departing 11:30PM arriving 6:30PM (+1 day)
ET505 Dublin to Addis Ababa departing 7:30PM arriving 6:00AM (+1 day)

Ethiopian-Business-Class-787-03
Ethiopian 787 business class

A few interesting things to note about Ethiopian’s new flight:

  • Both the eastbound and westbound flights are blocked at 20hr30min — that’s a long flight, and given the winds it’s a bit odd that it’s blocked for the same amount of time in both directions
  • It’s interesting that the plane sits on the ground in Los Angeles for 14 hours — it could just as easily leave Los Angeles at 11:30AM, get to Dublin at 6:30AM, leave at 7:30AM, and get to Addis Ababa at 6PM, which would lead to much better aircraft utilization
  • As far as I know, the Dublin to Los Angeles flight will be the earliest westbound flight between Europe and the US, and the Los Angeles to Dublin flight will be the latest eastbound flight between the US and Europe
  • As far as I know, this will be the first transatlantic 787 flight to/from Los Angeles
  • Presumably since the flight is routing through Dublin, passengers will use the US pre-clearance facility there — my only thought is that an hour doesn’t seem like enough time for everyone to clear immigration

It is quite interesting that Ethiopian actually will have pick up rights in Dublin. With their current Washington Dulles service, the flight from Addis Ababa to Washington Dulles stops in Rome on the outbound, while it’s a nonstop on the return. So I guess since they have fifth freedom rights and are routing through Dublin in both directions, it makes sense for them to pick up passengers there.

Ethiopian award space Dublin to Los Angeles

There’s quite a bit of award space on the route. Every single date I’ve searched has at least two business class award seats and four economy class award seats.

Ethiopian-Award-1 Ethiopian-Award-2

Using Aeroplan miles to fly between Los Angeles and Dublin is an amazing value, given that they charge 45,000 miles one-way and don’t impose fuel surcharges.

Admittedly Ethiopian doesn’t have the world’s best business class product. I flew them a couple of months ago from Beijing to Addis Ababa and from Addis Ababa to Frankfurt, so you can read about that here:

Their 787 business class cabins are modern, as you’d expect, though do feature angled flat beds, which is disappointing for a brand new product. The food was decent enough, and the service wasn’t actively unpleasant.

Ethiopian-Business-Class-767-49
Lovely business class meal on Ethiopian 😉

Bottom line

I realize this probably isn’t the most aspirational flight in the world, though there’s no denying it’s incredibly practical. Award space nonstop from the west coast to Europe is virtually impossible to find, especially in Star Alliance. So being able to have an option with wide open award availability is certainly good news all around.

Also, I think there’s no denying that this route is just pretty darn cool. It’s kind of random, and has some of the most unique flight timings for service between the US and Europe.

I do find the choice of Dublin as a connecting point to be interesting. I totally get why they’d use it if they didn’t plan on picking up passengers, since it’s probably one of the cheaper and easier airports to operate service through, and the pre-clearance facility doesn’t hurt either.

But given that they’re picking up passengers it seems like there would be Star Alliance markets better served nonstop from Los Angeles than Dublin.

What do you think of Ethiopian’s new route, and would you consider flying them?

Comments

  1. Flying only DUB-LAX , do you think the preclearance is a plus or minus compared to flying a normal europe-US route where you go thru immigration at LAX? I know you said in middle east preclearance is a sh**show …

  2. @ anon — It’s actually fairly well run in Dublin. If you have Global Entry it’s still a net negative, in my opinion, but otherwise I’d say it’s a good thing.

  3. I guess the later departure from LA is good. But don’t most flights for Europe leave around 9? At that point both allow me to finish the work day and go to the airport. Maybe this helps me finish a business dinner. I dunno. Doesnt seem like a game changer.

  4. Ben,

    Re: Addis Ababa to Los Angeles departing 6:30AM arriving 9:30AM
    Should it say – Dublin to Los Angeles departing 6:30AM arriving 9:30AM?

  5. No Pre-Clearance at DUB at that time, hence only 1hr on the ground.

    Timing is all about ADD-LAX, DUB traffic is only bonus. Timing is set up to gather connections at ADD, so even though aircraft utilization could be improved, arriving into ADD at 6pm would be useless for connecting traffic. Arriving morning each end and departing late night is also an attraction for some.

  6. Seems like ET is turning into a powerhouse, at least for an African carrier…….or even in general terms?
    Don’t think there’s another airline on such an aggressive expansion course (at least within Star Alliance), except for the Middle east carriers, or is there?
    Not only are they really expanding to the US, but also into Asia, adding flights to Tokyo and a number of other destinations, SIN, CAN etc.

  7. CX 888 doesn’t use the YVR pre-clearance facility for passengers traveling to JFK so is it possible a similar arrangement could be used for this flight?

  8. Would it be feasible to book this flight and then try to switch to LX who sometimes releases LAX-ZRH at the very last minute? Would Aeroplan charge a change fee if the dates are the same?

  9. @ Wolfgang — You’re right, they’re going like crazy. I do have to wonder if it’s sustainable growth, because unlike the Middle Eastern carriers, they can’t reasonably expect to turn into a global hub for people connecting between different regions (primarily due to their location, which isn’t on the way between Europe and Asia (and they don’t fly to Australia).

  10. @ Bill — Absolutely, there’s no requirement all flights use the pre-clearance facility, as it does have limited hours. It’s just intended as a selling point of flights.

  11. @ Stannis — They would charge a $90CAD fee. That being said, space on that route is VERY tough to come by.

  12. Being able not to take UA to DUB is always a positive, since UA flys some of the oldest 757s on the EWR-DUB route, being able to fly on a new(er) 787 from the west coast is a big positive.

  13. @Ben, getting from LA to Dublin, would you prefer to fly LAX-DUB nonstop in Ethiopian J or would you rather connect in SFO and take the Aer Lingus nonstop from the West Coast?

  14. @ Nick — Once Aer Lingus has the new business class product I’d probably select it. But until then I’d probably take the nonstop.

  15. Ben – I see J availability for these flights on United.com, but not on the Air Canada or ANA sites. Do you have any guidance in that regard, since–as you note–Aeroplan is a much better deal here?

  16. This isn’t the first transatlantic 787 route out of LAX – Norwegian was (and is), if I’m not mistaken.

  17. @Ben — I doubt there are very many Ethiopians in Ireland, however perhaps their gameplan is to also serve other African customers.

    looking at the GCMap, it looks like they chose DUB as the halfway point on this route. its not exactly half way cause that would put them off the coast, in the middle of the atlantic… but you know what I mean, the outmost major city they could do a stop at.

    and yeah I dont think they’re gonna use pre-clearance at DUB. 1 hr is def not enough, and it looks like they will be flying into TBIT so all pax will be making use of immigration at LAX.

    anyways, from your TRs Lucky, no interest in flying ET whatsoever.

  18. Guarantee the odd timing in LA is due to crew scheduling. Park the plane all day and the same arriving crew will work the overnight back to DUB. Brutal, but better than leaving them sit for 2+ days.

  19. @ Adam — All good points, though keep in mind TBIT in and of itself doesn’t limit an airline from using pre-clearance. Etihad uses TBIT as well and still does pre-clearance.

  20. @ Willy — Would be willing to bet almost anything that’s not the case. Bet they do have an overnight layover in LA.

  21. @lucky — ah that’s interesting, and something I didnt know. it’s news to me cause I thought by definition Pre-Cleared flights flew into any given US airport’s domestic terminals… so where exactly do EY pax exit TBIT without having to go thru immigration? is there a passageway to T4 (other connected domestic terminals) or a special exit for em which bypasses the immigration/security area as they goto baggage claim and exit TBIT?

  22. @ Adam — You exit through the same door through which you’d board the plane, and walk straight into the departures hall.

  23. can’t wait to travel from L A to Dublin nonstop. I will be traveling on to Belfast as my final destination. Delighted that I will not have to go through the hassle of Heathrow!
    Do they hire pilots from around the globe?

  24. Do Ethiopian have a good safety record? Do you recommend them. I love the idea of a direct flight from LA-Dublin. I miss that Aer Lingus stopped flying from LAX some years back.

    thanks!

  25. @ Mo — Back in the day they didn’t have a great safety record, though it has definitely gotten better over the years. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again.

  26. The game plan is to directly serve Ethiopians living along entire West Coast of America. Ethiopian Diaspora population in US is fast approaching half million. Many are first generation with strong family ties in Ethiopia and travel regularly.

    At three times a week only, the demand will probably be high enough that flights will be passing through Dublin at full capacity.

  27. We will be on the first flight out of LAX. So happy to have a non stop flight to Dublin once again. Travelling on the 787 is an exciting prospect. Hoping for a enjoyable flight. Flying out at 6:15am may be hard, but will be home in time to celebrate July 4th with friends and family!

  28. I am so happy to have non stop flight from los Angeles to ethiopia.amazing it’s incredible.

  29. We recently flew DUB-LAX on ET504 economy on a United award ticket. I it booked in February using the United saver award for my wife and myself + our eighteen month old on lap. We flew Air Canada SFO-YYZ-DUB on July 10 and returned on Ethiopian DUB-LAX and UA LAX-SFO on July 20.
    I am 10K United. We use my United miles for vacations pretty regularly. I had flown most of the Star alliance partners except for the Ethiopian before this. I was a little skeptical booking the itinerary but there were no other saver awards available from SFO to Ireland. Our experience on the Ethiopian Airlines flight was very good. The new 787 Dreamliner is nice. The staff, on ground and in flight, was professional. The flight looked 80% full from Dublin. We had requested the agent at the check-in counter to seat us next to an empty seat if available because we were traveling with an infant on the lap. We got the middle three seats to ourselves. The only hiccup was when our child car seat did not arrive at the LAX airport (port of entry custom check). Two checked-in luggage and a stroller made it. I filled a baggage claim form at LAX and got the car seat delivered at my door in a week. Overall a pleasant experience. Pretty good deal to fly between west coast and Europe on an award ticket.

  30. You may well have noted this somewhere, but it’s an interesting enough fact to repeat – the reason that ET does a stop in Rome for their Dulles flights outbound from ADD is that ADD is one of the higher altitude hubs in the world and they can’t take on a full fuel load at that elevation. Departing Dulles it’s not an issue.

  31. I’m considering a move to LA from Dublin, Ireland. My dad who is likely to visit at least once a year has a very sore back and I’m wondering which airlines have a flat back seat option and are most comfortable. I think he’d be happy to go direct or indirect.

  32. I am still unclear about the stop in Dublin for the flight from LAX to ADD. My reservation on the Ethiopian website doesn’t even mention the stop in Dublin but the search engine I made the reservation on did say there was 1 hr stopover in Dublin. Am I getting off the plane at that point? Or do I stay put? And if I do have to get off the plane, is the 1 hr to be used to get through some type of security? Is that enough time? My end destination is CPT.

  33. @ Marleen — You don’t get off the plane. Only people terminating in Dublin will even be allowed off actually — there’s an agent checking boarding passes as you disembark.

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