Ethiopian 767 Business Class Cloud Nine Addis Ababa To Frankfurt

Filed Under: Ethiopian, Other Airlines

When we first booked this trip, this sector was scheduled to be operated by a 787, the same plane I flew from Beijing to Addis Ababa. While that hard product was already disappointing, it was infinitely better than the business class product on the 767, which our flight got switched to about a week before departure.

Ethiopian 767

Ethiopian 767

Ethiopian 767 business class seat

My understanding is that Ethiopian has several 767 configurations, given that they acquired many of them from other airlines and haven’t bothered to standardize the cabins.

On this particular plane, there were a total of 24 business class seats spread across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. The product was what you’d expect in the 90s, with comfortable lounger chairs that aren’t even slightly competitive 20 years later.

Ethiopian 767 business class seats

Ethiopian 767 business class cabin

To the right of the seat were the entertainment controls.

Ethiopian 767 business class entertainment controls

And to the left of the seat were the seat controls.

Ethiopian 767 business class seat controls

The plane didn’t have any power ports or on demand entertainment, and the seats didn’t recline very much. The fact that they use the 767 and 777/787 interchangeably (and charge the same prices on cash tickets) on some of their medium haul routes is just embarrassing. This is a seven-hour flight to what you’d think would be a premium market (due to the massive Star Alliance hub there), yet they fly this old, rachet plane there.

Ethiopian business class food

On one hand I feel like a horrible person for complaining about the quality of food being catered out of Ethiopia. I should probably be looking at it in more binary of a way — there was food, so maybe they just deserve a “check” mark?

But yeah, it wasn’t very good.

The meal began with a salad and prawn starter.

Ethiopian business class appetizer and salad

I did like that between the appetizer and main course they had an Ethiopian dish. I’ve only had Ethiopian food a few times in my life and quite enjoyed it. This Ethiopian food didn’t taste very good to me, but it was nice to at least get some local food.

Ethiopian business class Ethiopian dish

The Ethiopian course was most definitely better than my “mystery” main course, though.

Ethiopian business class main course

And the cheesecake for dessert was good enough.

Ethiopian business class dessert

One thing worth noting is that the menu didn’t at all match what was served. It listed the two appetizer choices as being salmon or tomatoes and mozzarella. In reality the choices were shrimp or tomatoes and chicken. The same went for the main course.

Ethiopian business class service

It just wasn’t good. At all. Well, unless you were seated in 1H (more on that below).

The crew wasn’t very friendly, and it was two hours into the flight before the meal service began. Then again, given that I had absolutely nothing to do on my seven hour flight, I guess I was hoping the meal service would last all the way till landing.

Ethiopian business class amenities

There was an amenity kit, which was identical to the one I received on my last flight, except it was green.

Ethiopian business class amenity kit

There were personal entertainment screens, though there were no on demand movies. Instead they had four movies which “looped.” They were all movies that you didn’t want to see in 2006, let alone today. “Night at the Museum,” really?

Ethiopian business class entertainment system

Captain’s mother or royalty?

In terms of really bizarre things, after takeoff, a lady was moved up from economy to seat 1H. She was treated like royalty throughout the flight. While it was two hours into the flight before we were served our first course, she was done with her meal at that point.

Upgrade after takeoff

The captain came out of the cockpit after takeoff and talked to her for maybe 30 minutes. Later in the flight the first officer came out of the cockpit to talk to her as well.

Now that’s what I call service!

Before landing the captain even helped her put her shoes on, and kept coming back into the cabin to make sure the crew was taking care of her. What on earth?!

1H being pampered

Ethiopian’s pilots

As I mentioned in the review of my Beijing to Addis Ababa flight, one thing I found interesting was just how often there was only one pilot in the flight deck. I wasn’t sure if it was an isolated incident or not, but did find it a bit odd.

Earlier in the year an Ethiopian plane was hijacked by the first officer, who apparently “locked” the captain out of the cockpit. Fortunately it ended well, but you’d think they would change some cockpit procedures as a result. And I realize it was an isolated incident, but at the same time that could have ended horribly

For example, in the US one flight attendant always goes into the cockpit when a pilot leaves the cockpit, which makes sense to me so there’s never just one person in the cockpit.

On this sector there were two pilots, and I’d say the captain spent at least two hours in the cabin throughout the flight just hanging out, talking to the lady in 1H, etc.

Let me be clear, it didn’t make me feel unsafe. Taking it to an extreme, ultimately if there’s a mentally unstable pilot they’d find a way to bring down a plane no matter what, and certainly putting a second person in the cockpit wouldn’t stop them. At the same time, in my millions of flown miles I’ve never seen one member of a two person cockpit crew spend as much time outside of the cockpit as on this flight.

Again, just something I found interesting, and not something that made me feel unsafe.

On a brighter note, I thought it was cool that the first officer was both Ethiopian and female. It’s still somewhat rare in the US, and I imagine it’s even rarer in Ethiopia (after all, it’s a country where allegedly 69% of marriages happen through abduction).

Bottom line on Ethiopian business class

This was just an all around disappoint flight. From the aircraft itself to the entertainment to the food to the service, there was nothing about this flight that I’ll miss. At least when I had a crap flight on China Southern, the hard product was still excellent…

Cloud Nine? More like Cloud Two-and-a-Half.

  1. “On one hand I feel like a horrible person for complaining about the quality of food being catered out of Ethiopia. I should probably be looking at it in more binary of a way — there was food, so maybe they just deserve a “check” mark?”

    Ehh. Sort of uncomfortable….

  2. “there was nothing about this flight that I’ll miss”

    Yes siree! Do you mean “that I won’t miss”, or are you just saying that you were so bored you wouldn’t miss anything about the flight?

  3. Oh, you mean *that* type of miss. Should you reword it so it says “there wasn’t anything on this flight that I’d repeat” or something?

  4. I don’t fly as often as you, but still a pretty good bit, and I’m really jealous at all the weird stuff you see what seems to be quite regularly. It’s not that I /want/ to see a fat guy’s belly hanging out, but it would at least be humorous…

  5. The irony is that you were on ET-ALO, which (together with ALJ/ALP) actually has the best hard product of the various ET 767s! These are ET’s directly owned aircraft (and most recent 767 deliveries – albeit 10 years old) so they have all the “latest” upgrades like the new 777-style interiors, PTVs and winglets. Be thankful you didn’t have to endure one of the older frames – those can be real nightmares.

    I’ve flown ALO a few times in recent months (including the flight from EBB-ADD just a few hours before you flew her ADD-FRA) and quite honestly I am more comfortable in the exit row economy (row 30) than in the crappy biz class seats. Although the previous evening we had a complete IFE failure (yes, even “Invictus” and “Winnie Mandela” were unavailable) on ET-ALO as well. Thank goodness for kindles and ipods!

    I fly ET a fair bit (20-30 flights/year) and the secret to enjoying ET is to view them in comparison to the competition on their core routes – viz. within Africa. I’ve run airlines in Africa (and in full disclosure, I’ve worked closely WITH ET on various projects, although never FOR ET) and the challenges of maintaining a reliable operation with a decent supply chain in some of the stations they operate to are immense. ET have not just managed it, but they have mastered it. Even their closest competitor, Kenya Airways, pales in comparison to what ET has accomplished on virtually every front.

    ET’s product is not competitive on trunk routes where they go head to head with European or Middle East carriers. On these routes they compete pretty much on price alone. They are however the only reliable game in town when it comes to travel within Africa or to secondary markets in Africa. You don’t fly ET for comfort or style. You fly them to get to your destination safely, reliably and more or less on schedule. And in Africa, that’s not something you can take for granted.

  6. Sean, thank u for the insight. My only comment has to do with an old saying from my mother when i brought home a bad grade(s) from school. I said” mom, all other kids had bad or worse grades”. To which she always had the same comment ” i care less what other kids had. – i only care what you had. You should too”.

    So just becouse all other carriers have crappy service, we should still question bad product and complain when we see one.

  7. @Endre – Is ET’s product “bad” though? It is outdated for sure, but in dozens of flights on them I can’t say I’ve ever had “bad” service. Again, the product they are marketing is getting you to your African destination safely, reliably and more or less on schedule. They deliver on that promise very very well. You shouldn’t expect chateaubriand when you dine at McDonalds, ‘cos that isn’t what they are trying to sell! 🙂

  8. Whoops I put the previous comment by mistake (was going to put it on Lucky’s previous post on the chance to win free schwag.)
    Nonetheless, I have never flown ET Business but have flown ET in economy IAD-ADD-JRO and felt the service and IFE on the longhaul flight IAD-ADD to be very good. As far as comparing it to other African airlines, the only other ones I’ve flown are EgyptAir and South African Airways; which are really ET’s partners since they’re all in Star Alliance. Of the three, I personally prefer flying SAA.

  9. Having flown LH to Addis from Frankfurt return, I think what you experienced was more a reflection of where you were flying from than the airline you were flying on. We flew from Canada to Addis, connecting in Frankfurt, all on LH. The flight from Canada to Frankfurt was what you would expect from LH (in coach/economy), however, the flight from FRA to ADD was like a different airline. No entertainment/power at all, food far worse, even seemed to be less flight attendants, worse seats and clearly older equipment. Like in most things, Africans tend to get treated as second class citizens, at least in my experience (by way of disclosure, I am not African, so have no axe to grind).

  10. Having said that, the “Ethiopian” food you received, outside of the injera, was not recognizable as any Ethiopian dish I have ever eaten! Almost as big a mystery as the main dish that followed it

  11. Sorry to hear that you got the crappy seats. I had them to and from DC (two different crappy seats) and your pictures did a nice job of triggering my PTS syndrome, so thanks! 🙂

    Service is not a byword of ET, but nor is it really for any African airline, be it SA or KQ. The only “acceptable” airline in Africa, to me, is British Airways, which is actually Comair (who also own Kulula, one of the LCCs in S. Africa), but they have an incredibly small footprint internationally, and within southern Africa only.

    Thanks for the (unsurprising) report – to be honesty, your 787 report is the one I found surprising.

  12. Lucky, for someone so well travelled, I would expect more from you than resorting to tired stereotypes. RE: ” I should probably be looking at it in more binary of a way — there was food, so maybe they just deserve a “check” mark”. While I realize this was a “tongue-in-cheek” remark, it is still a little offensive for many of your readers. Especially those who can trace their lineage to less than wealthy nations. Love your blog and will continue to support but just figured I would put this out there.

    FWIW, while Ethiopia is still an extremely poor country, it has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is considered the “diplomatic capital” of Africa. The next ten to fifteen years will bring unprecedented change to the country that will hopefully spur more updates to their infrastructure and improve their weak human rights record.

  13. Wait…the captain and the first officer came out to talk to her (as pictured)…and there were two pilots…then at that time who was flying the plane? The flight attendants!?

  14. I guess the CZ 328/CZ 385 reviews aren’t the only reviews that you didn’t use the word “phenomenal”! 😛

  15. I fly ET a fair bit and usually find them “fine.” I’m glad, though, that when travel was interrupte by irrops I refused to have my LH biz seat replaced with an ET one to Frankfurt the next day. The flights go around the same time with the LH taking a ground stop in Saudi Arabia. I’ll trade that for an angled flat seat overnight. I will commend ET for (eventually—the transfer desk is a zoo!) sending us to the addis Hilton for 24 hr where our gold benefits were recognized and we even earned points for our 24 hr there on ET’s dime. The $20 massages at the Hilton are always a nice consolation for an extra day spent in Addis too.

  16. Did you not even stay a day in Ethiopia and check it out? It’s supposed to be beautiful and is up there on my list of next places

  17. @ Tyler — I would have liked to, but was limited to one stopover, so couldn’t do that on this ticket due to availability.

  18. I wonder if she was the captain’s mother or something. BTW, your last batch of trip reports aren’t showing up in the trip report index. Not sure if you just haven’t gotten to it, or if there’s a glitch, but figured I’d let you know.

  19. @ Elizabeth — Thanks! These actually aren’t my trip reports, but just “previews” I post the day after each flight. The full trip reports are posted upon the conclusion of the trip, which are the ones I add to the index. 🙂

  20. That explains it (and these are nice thorough previews!)! I’ll look forward to more on the three-piece neon suits in the full review.

  21. As an Ethiopian and a regular reader I am very offended by your attempt at humor when you referred to the “check mark” for ET having food. I would think that someone as well travelled as you are would be less ignorant in relating Ethiopia with the great famine that occurred in 1984 and many people died as a result. Furthermore, your claim that 69% of marriage comes through abduction is absurd and you fail to site any source for this ridiculous claim. Ethiopia is the among the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity and is a nation filled with history and treasures so please have a little more respect the next time you decide to write about Ethiopia or at least try to have some journalistic ethics and site the sources to your ridiculous claims.

  22. How can someone as well travelled as you be so damn ignorant?

    I’m truly surprised that this post from 2 years ago hasn’t been edited to remove the racist, and bigoted comment about being surprised they had food on the plane. This is just as offensive as someone telling you that you should get a check for walking around without something plugged up your rear end 24-7 being that you’re gay.

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