Ethiopian Airlines has a lot going for it, but the lack of lie-flat seating makes it difficult for me to wholeheartedly endorse it. I’ve also realized something—internet is what I value most of all on a flight.
Service was exceptional on the 13-hour 787-8 flight from Toronto to Addis Ababa on Tuesday. From the champagne arrival to the final goodbye, I could not have asked for a better crew. They were friendly and proactive, offering very polished service.
I was very disappointed to board the aircraft and find the old business class seats. In chatting with the (American) captain, he mentioned that none of the Ethiopian 787s had been retrofitted yet with new lie-flat business class seats. 787s are now delivered with the new seats, but the original 787s will only be retrofitted during their first heavy maintenance check (usually when the aircraft turns about three years old).
Unfortunately, the morning departure time coupled with the lack of lie-flat seating made sleep impossible for me. I did not sleep a wink. The cabin was warm, but individual air nozzles were available above each seat, so that was not the culprit.
You Won’t Go Hungry on Ethiopian Airlines
Food was good…at least at the time. I love the spices in Ethiopian food and had a large plate of Doro Wat (spicy chicken stew), Yebeg Alcha (Tumeric Mutton Stew), Gomen (Kale), and Shiro Tibs Firfir (beef stew).
That was more than enough for my meal, but then the crew brought out western courses…a steak on top of all of that. Appetizer too…i.e. a ton of food.
It was dry, but surprisingly good.
Cheese and dessert as well…
Before landing I opted for French Toast (instead of an omelet) and enjoyed that too.
Overall, I was impressed with the catering on Ethiopian. I will add that something I ate did not agree with me, because I spent more time than I would have liked in the bathroom in Addis Ababa.
I passed the time watching a couple movies and knocking out some photo editing and writing, but I admittedly could not have handled a longer flight without internet. The inability to stay connected to my family and my business coupled with the stress of mounting emails may have also contributed to my insomnia. That’s just me and may not apply to most of you, but being disconnected drives me crazy and makes me much less relaxed.
Ethiopian objectively offers a below-average business class product if you get on a 767, 777, or 787 without lie-flat seating. Even so, warm service and good food made the flight pleasant. Even though I would not deliberately fly Ethiopian Airlines, I would never deliberately avoid it either.
Stay tuned for a full trip report from this flight.