Trip Reports & Reviews

27 Hours on Ethiopian Airlines! Business Class on the Boeing 787

Noel

Noel Philips

I took a flight from Sao Paulo to Manchester via Addis Ababa onboard Ethiopian Airlines Business Class to see just how their product matches up to the more well known airlines.

Ethiopian go from Terminal 2 at Guarulhos. It’s very industrial in design and not the most comfortable place to spend a few hours.

After checking in it was time to head to the lounge. There’s no Star Alliance lounge here, only the GOL Premium Lounge which is huge, but very busy.

The Addis Ababa flight from Sao Paulo leaves at 1:00 in the morning. I headed down to the gate where a group of passengers appeared to be psyching themselves up for the flight ahead.

My ride to Addis this evening was a Boeing 787-8 that was delivered brand new to Ethiopian in 2014, making her 5 years old when I flew on her.

It was soon time to board and I made my way down the jet bridge to the waiting Dreamliner.

Ethiopian call their business class ‘Cloud 9’. On the 787 it comes in a 2-2-2 configuration. This aircraft has the slightly older seat which has an angle flat bed rather than the full lie flat bed. There’s also a little less privacy in the seat area – but I had no seat neighbour tonight so it wasn’t an issue.

The seat is almost identical to the seat on Hainan Airlines – don’t forget to check out my video on their Boeing 787.

There’s an amenity kit which I’ll go through later in the video, as well as a bottle of water at every seat.

The crew bought around a glass of champagne as we waited at the gate.

Pretty soon it was time to push back and I got my first glimpse of Ethiopian’s rather random safety video. It really is a work of art. Ethiopian seem to have taken something from every other airlines’ safety videos and just randomly put them together. My personal highlights are the random grinning woman and binocular guy.

We got on our way and headed to the runway for a beautiful departure out of Sao Paulo.

Our route today took us east out of Sao Paulo to cross the South Atlantic Ocean. We coasted into Africa over Angola, and flew over Congo, Uganda and Kenya before descending over Ethiopia into Addis Ababa. Flying time tonight was 12 hours 32 minutes, at a cruising altitude of 41,000ft.

Within a few minutes of takeoff the dinner service started. I took the grilled beef tenderloin which tasted a lot nicer than it looked.

As we crossed Congo I listened to some appropriate music.

The cabin crew came around with some lovely Ethiopian coffee, and a light breakfast which consisted of chicken nuggets.

The amenity kits on Ethiopian are really good, and even include a hook to hang up the kit on the wall. I’m giving away a brand new amenity kit from Ethiopian – check out the link in the description for your chance to win.

The inflight entertainment has a great choice of TV, movies and music but the interface isn’t the quickest or easiest to navigate.

The scenery outside was stunning as we crossed Africa.

It got a little bumpy as we crossed Uganda.

Next up was the dinner service. I picked beef for the starter, and chicken for the main course which again tasted much nicer than it looked.

As the sun started to dip I got a great view of the full moon with the shadow of our contrail below.

As we started our descent we passed through some nasty storm clouds, and made our approach and landing down into Addis Ababa.

We parked at a remote stand and disembarked into the bus which was pretty frustrating, as they boarded the entire aircraft into the same bus which meant you still have to fight your way off the bus at the other side.

We did get to drive past some interesting aircraft though,including a TAAG Angola 777 and this Dash 8 of Tchadia Airlines, the national airline of Chad.

Transit passengers at Addis have to first pass through a security check before getting access to the departure lounge.

Ethiopia is the home of coffee, and Ethiopians traditionally roast coffee over a fire, of which there were several throughout the terminal leading to the entire terminal feeling very smokey.

There’s two Ethiopian lounges at Addis. I’d heard that Lounge 2 was the nicest so headed there to wait for my flight.

After a couple of hours I headed to the gate. For UK bound flights there was a second security check, a passport check, and a UK border force check.

My next flight was scheduled as a 777, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a Boeing 787-9 on the stand.

The 787-9 has the newer, refreshed Cloud 9 cabin which features a full lie flat bed, more privacy and a larger screen.

The crew handed out stickers to indicate whether we wanted to be left asleep. I stuck the red ‘do not disturb’ sticker on my seat.

Pretty soon we were treated to the random safety video once more, and got on our way to the runway.

Leg one of this flight took us to Brussels. We flew over Sudan and Egypt before crossing the Mediterannean into Greece. We flew over the Balkan states before crossing Austria and Germany and commencing our descent into Brussels. Flight time was 7 hours and 21 minutes, at a cruising altitude of 40,000ft.

Once again there was a dinner service straight after dinner, again completed and cleared away within 40 minutes. I opted for the chicken, before putting my bed down ready for sleep.

I was awoken from my sleep somewhere over Germany as we commenced our descent into Brussels.

There was full crew change in Brussels. The crew spend 24 hours in Brussels before doing a round trip to Manchester, having another 24 hours rest in Brussels before continuing back to Ethiopia.

Our final leg on this flight took us east over the English Channel before turning right overhead London, crossing the Midlands and descending over Derbyshire into Manchester. Flight time was 1 hour and 2 minutes, at 30,000ft.

Only a handful of passengers remained in business class for this last leg of the flight.

The inflight entertainment system on the newer 787s has the same range of movies and TV but is much easier to use.

We were served meatballs and chicken with a spicy sauce as a light snack before landing in Manchester. I missed the main breakfast service as I’d been asleep.

Before long the familiar sight of the British coastline of Suffolk appeared in the distance.

It was an absolutely beautiful morning for flying over the UK, and we got to see the whole of England in beautiful early morning light as we flew up the country.

My flight with Ethiopian cost me £1598.72 for a distance of 9992 miles, giving a cost per mile of £0.16p.

Overall EThiopian Airlines really impressed me. I wsn’t sure what to expect going in, but their service was top notch. The meals weren’t necessarily the bestthough, and I’d have really liked to have tried some proper Ethiopian cuisine on the flights. Chicken nuggets for breakfast isn’t brilliant!

Service wise, they couldn’t be faulted. I’m taking quite a few more African airlines in the next few months- don’t forget to subscribe to see more flights from across Africa.