Ethiopian is an airline which is growing pretty quickly, and offers among the best access to Africa. I flew them last year in business class from Beijing to Addis Ababa and from Addis Ababa to Frankfurt, and had generally pleasant flights. The 787 on the first sector was quite nice, while the 767 on the second sector was a bit more… rustic.
Ethiopian’s “old” 787 business class product
For those in the US, one thing which makes Ethiopian especially interesting is that they operate a flight between Los Angeles and Dublin. They’re the only airline to fly nonstop between Los Angeles to Dublin (though Aer Lingus is starting service in the market in May 2016), and you can fly them on just that sector (the flight continues to Addis Ababa). That’s a rather exotic way to get between the US and Europe.
Ethiopian Airlines 787
In February I wrote about how Ethiopian Airlines is introducing a new business class product on their 787s. At the time, here’s the one picture they shared of the seat:
Ethiopian’s “new” 787 business class product
It looks like a solid fully flat business class product, similar to the A321 business class American offers between New York and Los Angeles. The catch is that as of now Ethiopian has just installed the new product on planes which they’re taking delivery of, though apparently they’ll eventually be retrofitting the rest of the 787 fleet as well.
Furthermore, Ethiopian isn’t publishing in advance which routes will get the planes with the new business class product, so it’s a lottery.
So what are the odds of getting Ethiopian’s new 787 business class?
Via airfleets.net, Ethiopian has 13 787s in their fleet so far. Ethiopian shared the picture of the new business class product at the same time they took delivery of their 11th 787, so I would assume that was the first 787 to get the new product. As a result, I would assume that as of now 3 of the 13 Ethiopian 787s have the new business class product.
Specifically, these three new planes are tail numbers ET-ASG, ET-ASH, and ET-ASI. Of course talk of tail numbers probably sounds like gibberish to any non-aviation geek out there. But you’ll see the links above are to the flightradar24 pages for those planes, which show exactly the routes those planes have flown.
While it won’t let you predict whether your future flight will have the new business class product, at least it can tell you in many cases whether the plane you’re about to board will have it.
For example, if you were taking the flight from Los Angeles to Dublin and you noticed that ET-ASG, ET-ASH, or ET-ASI were operating the Dublin to Los Angeles flight, then you’d know you would get the new business class product. If it were another plane operating that flight, you’d know you wouldn’t have the new product. At least it helps you to manage expectations.
It’s great that Ethiopian is installing a new business class product, though I do wish they’d introduce it throughout the whole 787 fleet, and would also publish which routes the planes with the new product are on. At least we know that the chances of getting the new product are 3/13, so you have just under a quarter chance of getting the new product if on a 787.
I’d like to review Ethiopian’s new business class product soon, and my strategy is to track the routes for ET-ASG, ET-ASH, and ET-ASI. If I notice one of those tail numbers takes off from Addis Ababa bound for Dublin and Los Angeles, I’ll have 30+ hours advance notice of the new product flying from Los Angeles to Dublin. That’s because the Addis Ababa to Los Angeles flight takes 19hr35min in total, and then the plane sits on the ground for 14 hours before returning to Addis Ababa. And yes, believe it or not, the crew works the same flight back to Dublin, so they literally have a daytime layover between longhaul flights.
Would you consider flying Ethiopian between Los Angeles and Dublin, and would your answer vary based on whether it was the new or old business class product?