While my 13hr flight on Ethiopian Airlines featured old-school business class seats, the warm service and tasty food made up for it.
After a great stay at the Park Hyatt Toronto, I took the Pearson Express to the airport, arriving about two hours before the flight. Check-in lines were minimal and I was the only person in the security checkpoint. I loved how silent Toronto Pearson (YYZ) was. A check-in agent provided me boarding passes all the way to Bangkok.
I loved this Air Canada “Trans-Canada Air Lines” classic livery:
Even more though, I loved the fast-moving walkways — I do not recall these during my last transit though Toronto.
After about 45 minutes in the lounge, I proceeded to the gate and was among the first to board the flight, which began boarding 10 minutes earlier than indicated on the boarding pass (around five minutes after 10am).
Toronto (YYZ) – Addis Ababa (ADD)
Tuesday, October 17
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Seat: 2L (Business Class)
Onboard, I turned left and found a brightly-lit business class cabin.
Ethiopian Airlines 787 Business Class Seat
But I was so disappointed. Based on the seat map, you really have no way of knowing whether you flight will have the old or new business class seats, and my 13hr flight to Addis Ababa featured the old seats.
Make no mistake, these are still comfortable seats for lounging and working. But for sleeping…not so much. At least for 11am departures when you are well-rested. To be fair, I slept quite well on the Dublin to Los Angeles sector that featured exactly the same seats. But that was after pulling an all-nighter.
On this flight, I unfortunately did not sleep a single wink. Whether you get the old seats or new seats. thee cabin is laid out 2-2-2 with four rows in the forward business cabin and two in the rear cabin.
The seat features a cubby for shoes below the monitors (between the seats) and a cubby above the monitors for headphones. Between the seats themselves is a literature pocket.
Seats are controlled by push-button. At one point my seat stopped working, but by standing up (taking my weight off the seat) I was able to adjust it again. From that point on, it worked fine.
The seat features a power port, which worked well, and a worthless USB port. I had my iPhone plugged in the entire flight and after 13 hours it still was not charged.
The blanket was very scratchy and too small, though the pillow was adequate.
Here’s a picture of the seat in “bed” mode from my Dublin to Los Angeles flight. Note that the seat is not “angled lie-flat” but offers about 160º of recline.
Ethiopian Airlines 787 Business Class Service
Service truly shined on this flight. The staff were wonderful…from the initial welcome to the goodbyes just before landing, the crew was caring, kind, and proactive.
I particularly appreciated how proactive the crew was in monitoring the cabin during the flight and offering frequent beverage refills. To me, service between the meals is a key indicator of whether a crew is good or bad.
Ethiopian Airlines 787 Business Class Food
Prior to departure, a choice of water, orange juice or champagne was offered. Champagne was Lallier Brut, which retails for about $40/bottle. I just had water. Bottles of water (bottled in Ethiopia) were also provided.
After takeoff, meal service commenced with a warm towel.
Ethiopian Airlines does not use mixed nuts, instead offering teff (see description in menu below) or the salty cracker below that look like butter cookies.
The menu for today’s flight featured three meal services, a full lunch after takeoff, mid-flight snack, and breakfast prior to landing.
Service began with a a green salad, warm bread (pretzel and garlic), and smoked duck breast. All tasty.
Next came the Ethiopian course, featuring Doro Wot (spicy chicken stew), Yebeg Alcha (tumeric mutton stew), Gomen (kale), and Tibs Firfir (ingera mix with beef stew). I tried a bit of everything. This is very spicy food, but very delicious. The FA encouraged me (like on my last flight) to use my fingers. Moist napkins were provided.
As if that was not enough, the western courses came next. I ordered a steak with Cafe de Paris butter, served with asparagus, carrots and roasted potatoes. Once again, very good despite the meat being somewhere between medium-well and well-done.
The meal was not over. Next came a disappointing cheer course with very bland cheddar and jack cheese and two grapes.
Dessert included a mini-fruit tart and chocolate cheesecake. By this point, I was so full I just managed a bite of each one. Both were good.
Ethiopian coffee is excellent — very strong. Perhaps that is why I could not sleep…
Chocolate truffles were also offered.
Halfway through the flight a hot snack was offered. Lights were not turned on, but service was offered as if a standard meal service (table cloth, utensils, no trays).
The offer was “meat” or “vegetarian” and I cannot say I really ate anything below other than the beef skewer. Fried fish or egg rolls…no thanks.
Breakfast service began two hours prior to landing. Breaking routing, I ordered French Toast instead of a plain omelet. I think I made the right choice. The French Toast was fabulous and my neighbor’s eggs looked depressing. Breakfast came with muesli, fresh fruit, excellent yogurt (high protein / low sugar), and a warm croissant.
Once again, an excellent meal.
All meals were excellent on this flight.
Ethiopian Airlines 787 Business Class IFE
Noise cancelling headphones are available though they did not work very well.
Unfortunately, the remote control joystick was broken…I could not play any games. But I had no trouble watching movies and TV or listening to music.
There were about 30 movies to choose from. I watched two: Alien Covenant (weird science-fi ) and Going in Style (funny).
Ethiopian Airlines 787 Business Class Amenity Kit
A lime green amenity kit included earplugs, a pen, toothbrush + toothpaste, a comb, socks, eyeshade, and toothpick. Bag colors were red or green.
Ethiopian Airlines 787 Business Class Lavatory
The lavatory stayed cleaned and contained spray and hand lotion.
View from Outside the Window
Here are some views from outside my window from pushback, in the air, and landing in Addis.
We landed at a remote stand and were bussed into the terminal. In my next segment of the trip report, I’ll discuss transit in Addis Ababa.
One final note: the captain of the flight was an American. He was in the business class cabin prior to departure. Oddly, he made no announcements during the flight. FAs made all announcements. I asked him about the retrofit of the business class cabin and he stated that the new deliveries come with the new seats, but there is no timeframe to replace the dated seats present on my flight.
The old business class seats are simply uncompetitive on Ethiopian Airlines. Even so, I would not hesitate to fly Ethiopian again. The crew was charming and food delicious. Don’t be alarmed about flying Ethiopian: it was safe and comfortable, even beating expectations.