LOT, Ethiopian, Swiss, and Lufthansa, Here We Come!

Filed Under: Awards, US Airways

One of the greatest long standing award chart values has been US Airways’ 90,000 mile roundtrip business class award between the US and North Asia. I especially loved this award back when US Airways belonged to the Star Alliance, given how many great Star Alliance business class products there are.

Last year alone I flew three of these types of awards using US Airways miles:

Before US Airways transitioned from Star Alliance to oneworld I decided to book one last 90,000 mile business class award to North Asia on the Star Alliance, and it’s a good thing I did, because shortly thereafter they devalued that award redemption and increased the cost to 110,000 miles.


This trip wasn’t so much designed to try the best Star Alliance products, but rather to sample some of the “missing” ones I hadn’t yet flown. So this time around I’ll be flying from New York to Beijing via Warsaw and Zurich, returning via Addis Ababa and Frankfurt (because, well, who wouldn’t… right?).

Originally the segment from Beijing to Addis Ababa was scheduled to be operated by a 777, while the segment from Addis Ababa to Frankfurt was scheduled to be operated by a 787. However, unfortunately they downgraded the aircraft from Addis Ababa to Frankfurt to a 767, which was kind of disappointing. Then again, a disappointing flight for me usually leads to an entertaining trip report for you guys, if history is any indicator.

Now it looks like they’ve also changed the aircraft type from Beijing to Addis Ababa from a 777 to a 787. So I guess that’s a good thing?

My gosh, Ethiopian sure does love last minute equipment swaps! As long as they don’t substitute either segment to a Q400, I think we’ll be fine.

This big trip will be kicking off today, so suffice to say it will be a whirlwind week!

While I’ll be writing trip reports about all my flights, you can follow along “live” through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook:

I’m traveling with my friend Andrew (who’s also one of the funniest people I know), and he has promised to post entertaining Tweets, so feel free to follow him on Twitter at @adb36. If it’s half as funny as his Facebook feed, you’re in for a treat.

Anyway, if anyone has any specific requests or tips for maximizing our Cloud Nine Ethiopian Airlines experience, I’d love to hear ’em!

Safe travels, everyone!

  1. Very interested in your ET trip report – especially if you end up on the 787. They are notorious for last minute equipment changes, which is one of the biggest detriments to booking their flights. I came very close to flying them to Cape Town for an upcoming trip, but was able to swap it out when LH Business FRA-JNB opened up. I’d be curious in a quick comparison between LH business and ET business for that reason.


  2. Flew ET this morning from EBB-ADD-DXB. Was supposed to be 73G/763 but wound up with DH8/788 in the end. A 3 hour redeye on the Dash 8 was not fun. 🙂

    Be very afraid of the swap to the 752 for ADD-FRA. ET are doing a lot of World Cup related charters to Brazil lately and they are using the 763s and 788s for those. The Frankfurt route has been swapped to a 752 on 6 of the last 13 days as a result. You will almost certainly get the 77L on PEK-ADD though. While it is listed as a 788 route, it has been operated by a 777 virtually every day this month.

    If you do wind up on a 763 to Frankfurt, pray it is one of ET’s owned aircraft (ET-ALJ/ALO/ALP) registrations) and not the leased frames. These (at least ALJ/ALO which I have flown lately) have been retrofitted with the new 777 style interiors and are a moderately reasonable older generation product up front. The others are a complete mixed bag of configs (former KLM, SAS, etc.. frames) and tend to be in very shabby condition. I would rather have the 752 (at least ET-ALZ/AMK) than the leased 767s. ET-AMT/AMU are in poor interior condition. Also keep in mind that the Biz class on ET-AMK has a 6″ tighter seat pitch than the other 757s.

    ET makes their aircraft assignments approx. 2200hrs Addis time 2 calendar days before departure, so check their website at that time to see what changes have cropped up. If you find that OLCI is inhibited at T-48 for whatever reason (you will get a red “unable to confirm seat assignment” error message), that is usually a good indicator that some sort of last minute swap is coming. OLCI will open up with the correct seat map then at T-24, but you can have an aircraft swap right until the last second. Sometimes you won’t even realise until the bus pulls up next to a different type than you had checked in for!

    Enjoy the ET experience. I fly ET extensively so I’m probably immune to most of their eccentricities by now, but I would love to hear your impressions of the dodgy Cloud Nine lounges (tip : be very careful of the electric sockets, if you can find them), the chaotic boarding scrums and generally the complete opposite application of conventional wisdom than traveling in the Western world! Take lots of pictures.

  3. I think you will really enjoy the 787 with LOT. I flew them WAW to JFK last week and was very impressed. Food and service was on par if not better than the OS flight I took over.

  4. Looking at the amenities list for Ethiopia Cloud Nine, looks like they offer “Mini Holes” for children. Awesome! Perhaps you could get one and do another another one of your giveaways. I would love to see what container/packaging one uses for a “mini hole”. …Or am I reading it wrong? Perhaps a mini hole is somewhere to put the kids in while in-flight :0

  5. I have been on an Ethiopian Q400 – it was cleaner and nicer and had a better looking interior than any I have been on in the US.

  6. Choice of hotels…can you list them here, or is it going to be kept secret, or are there none in your trip at all?

  7. Very much looking forward to your trip report!

    Any plans to try out the new AC 787 or Air India, since they’ll be part of Star Alliance soon?

  8. I flew on an Ethiopian Q400 domestically in April. Talk about a last minute booking. My friends and I were throwing wads of cash in dollars and Euros at Ethiopian Airlines half an hour before take-off trying to get on that flight (we had flights out of ADD on TK later that night). Then, we sat on the tarmac for awhile because of the wind conditions, and ultimately, our bags were unloaded so we could take off. Both flights were incredibly windy, but at least they were quite short.

  9. @ Wolfgang — Definitely hope to book an Air India ticket as soon as they join the Star Alliance. Very excited about that!

  10. Awesome!

    I have to go to SYD for work soon, playing with ITA found a J fare FRA-DEL-SYD (going 787 all the way) for Euro 2556 for January 2015, which I thought is a very good price, might give it a try.

  11. Can’t wait to follow you. I’m taking my mom to JNB and flying SkyTeam one-way and Alliance on the way back and was thinking of ET. May even stay a night or two in ADD. So the more info on ET and ADD the better! Thanks and i LOVE following your trips!

  12. ET does change planes a lot, I got to fly the 787 at the very last minute from ADD to NBO. Hopefully the A/C will be functioning and none of your fellow passengers will faint. So you won’t have to wait 2 hours in a metal sauna at the gate….I doubt you will check baggage so you won’t have to worry about waiting 2.5 hours for them to figure out how to open the cargo hold after landing….. my one and only Dreamliner experience was an epic nightmare, I really hope to read that you had a better experience on ET’s 787 than I.

    Don’t expect anyone to get in any sort of line in Addis or respect boarding calls for only Business Class passengers. Once boarding is called, passengers en masse try to board. The stewardess/stewards are usually really pleasant and kind especially in business class. They know to refill your glass before it is empty in my experience.

    Get a Macchiato in the airport probably outside the lounge at the cafe. If you are facing the tarmac in ADD the duty free shop all the way in back left hand corner sometimes sells Ethiopian coffee beans including Tomoca. You won’t regret the purchase if it is Tomoca. Tomoca has some of the best coffee ever had in my life at their cafes in Addis.

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