Here’s a mystery perhaps we can solve together.
I book Award Expert clients on Ethiopian Airlines to/from Africa all the time. The airline is very generous in releasing award space and has an unparalleled route network within Africa. It also now serves many key cities in the USA, including Los Angeles…at least for now.
A couple weeks ago I booked a pair of business class awards for a client between Los Angeles and Cape Town. The flights between Los Angeles and Addis Ababa make a stop in Dublin, Ireland in both directions. This is a Fifth Freedom flight, meaning passengers can get on and off, but connecting passengers remain onboard during the layover. I reviewed business class (“Cloud 9”) from Dublin to Los Angeles last year and found it to be a nice product overall.
The couple wanted to book their son in economy class on the same flight. I figured that booking a revenue ticket would make more sense than using miles, but found something odd. Ethiopian was not offering the flight for sale. Nor did it appear available on online travel agencies like Kayak, Orbitz, or Momondo.
But there was award space on the flight, bookable through all Star Alliance partners. So we ended up using miles to book the economy class seat.
Two weeks later, the LAX flight is still not bookable on a revenue basis (versus using miles). And perhaps we know the reason why. Per Routes Online, Ethiopian is ending service to Los Angeles on 14 December 2018.
Ethiopian Airlines in this week’s schedule update adjusted service to Los Angeles, where it currently operates Addis Ababa – Dublin – Los Angeles route. Last flight for this 4 weekly flight is scheduled [for] 14DEC18, on board Boeing 787-8 aircraft.
ET504 ADD0125 – 0650DUB0750 – 1035LAX 788 x146
ET505 LAX2335 – 1735+1DUB1835+1 – 0525+2ADD 788 x146
Indeed, the flight has been removed from GDS systems. But here’s the odd thing. You can still use your United or Aeroplan miles to book this flight. I just pulled this up:
The reservations remain unchanged when pulled up on the Ethiopian Airlines website.
What Is Going On?
And while it is likely Ethiopian is just slow in updating its award inventory and schedule, this flight has been gone for a couple weeks. I’m not sure what the hold up is.
More importantly, Ethiopian is in a growing phase. I’ve written about their strategic acquisitions in Africa and it seems strange the airline would abandon Los Angeles with no official notice on its website.
Then again, Ethiopian is never great about giving notice…
The answer is not that the Dublin stop is being eliminated. The 787-8 serving Los Angeles cannot reach Addis nonstop due to its high altitude. Even a 777-200 would have trouble. Perhaps the flight will stop elsewhere?
I love a good airline mystery. If anyone has any greater insight into what is going on, let me know. I reached out to Ethiopian for an update but never heard back. The answer is probably simple: the system has not been updated. But for now you can book award space on Ethiopian to/from Los Angeles.