Route: Frankfurt (FRA) – Addis Ababa (ADD) – Lusaka (LUN) – Harare (HRE) 11H50M
The Good: Friendly service and good meals Normal cost: USD$2906 Our cost: USD$78.10 + 37.5K United miles
The Bad: Service needs polishing up from a service and professionalism perspective
The Ugly: Beat up seats and hardware
I had flown Ethiopian Airlines once before about two years ago. Although initially I was a bit concerned which condition the aircraft would have, it turned out to be a fairly new 737 if memory serves me right. We were more than impressed (due to low expectations) with the service and food at that time. That being said, we decided to use Ethiopian to fly their 787 Dreamliner down to Zimbabwe. We had a connecting flight in Addis but the plane was still a 787 followed by a stop in Lusaka to offload/pick up passengers. So in total we spent over 12 hours in business class on the Dreamliner including the 1 hour stop on the ground in Lusaka.
Overall we quite enjoyed the service from the two separate crews that served our flights. They were genuinely happy and attentive but not excessively in your face. Requests were met by smiles and swift reactions. There was, however, room for polishing up. When pouring wine and asking for orders, the crew was not confident. When I asked for the wine and cheese platter for dessert, they hesitated and looked at each other as if wondering how they would slice the cheese and arrange the grapes. Towards the end of our first flight, the crew was taking pictures of each other with flash – normally this wouldn’t be an issue except for the fact that the curtains to the galley were open and it was dark at 5 in the morning.
The plane’s environment was comfortable and the trip went by quickly. The Dreamliner does have certain features that make for this: air quality, cabin pressure, higher cabin humidity levels, more headroom and very large windows.
One complaint is the number of announcements made during the flight. There seemed to be one every 15 minutes for the first couple hours of the flight followed by many more during the last couple of hours. It would be ideal if they mention them all at once initially and at the very end of the flight!
Although Ethiopian has been operating the 787 only since August 2012 and I took this flight 2 years later, there seems to be quite a bit of wear and tear on the planes. On the FRA-ADD route the plane had large scuff marks on the seats and walls and had a broken screen on the remote control.
But the main hardware component which is the seat is comfortable. Even if they only recline 165 degrees I was able to get 1 hour of sleep on the overnight flight. That may not sound like a lot but I normally don’t sleep on non 180 degree beds – and I was watching movies for most of that flight 🙂 There is ample space between the seat and screen for leg room.
The 15” IFE screens are an appropriate size for the distance between the seat and screen.
The movie selection is not great with less than 50 movies to choose from but for a 4-7 hour flights this should suffice if you like their selection. The remote control is easy to operate and located in the cubby next to the seat.
Additionally, the seat controls are well placed.
The Food and Beverages
The food was actually pretty good. Here’s a shot of their menu.
I appreciated that they had a small cart with various Ethiopian dishes.
As the crew noticed we didn’t know what the local platters consisted of, they explained and gave us samplings of everything to try out.
Overall, I would fly this route and plane again if I need to return to Addis, Lusaka or Harare.