Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787s Get New Business Class Seats

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787s Get New Business Class Seats

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Ethiopian Airlines announced a big order with Boeing, including for 737 MAX 8s and 787-9s. That’s not the only exciting news, though, as the Addis Ababa-based Star Alliance carrier is also introducing a new business class product throughout its 787 Dreamliner fleet.

Ethiopian Airlines 787s getting cabin retrofits

Not only will Ethiopian Airlines be acquiring new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, but the airline will also be modifying the cabins of existing 787s, in partnership with Boeing. The airline describes this as a comprehensive retrofit that will enhance the passenger experience.

This will include new inflight entertainment, and new seats throughout the aircraft, including new lie flat business class seats in partnership with Boeing joint venture partner Adient Aerospace.

Ethiopian’s 787 fleet currently consists of 29 jets, including 19 of the smaller 787-8 variants, and 10 of the larger 787-9 variants. That doesn’t include the additional 11 787-9s that have just been ordered, with options for an additional 15.

As I’ve explained in my guide to Ethiopian Airlines business class seats, the airline currently has an incredible amount of inconsistency when it comes to its business class seats. Ethiopian’s 787s alone have three kinds of business class seats.

Some 787-8s feature angled Zodiac Aura Lite seats, in a 2-2-2 configuration, which are the worst long haul business class seats in the fleet.

Ethiopian’s Zodiac Aura Lite seats (angled)

Some 787-8s and 787-9s feature fully flat Collins Aerospace Diamond seats, in a 2-2-2 configuration, which are the most common long haul business class seats in the fleet.

Ethiopian’s Collins Aerospace Diamond seats (fully flat)

Last but not least, Ethiopian has some 787-9s with fully flat Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration, which are among the best long haul business class seats in the fleet.

While the exact timeline for these reconfigurations remains to be seen, it’s my understanding that the 787-8s with the angled seats will be the first to be reconfigured, followed by the 787-8s and 787-9s with the fully flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration.

What new business class seat will Ethiopian Airlines choose?

While Ethiopian Airlines doesn’t explicitly state which business class product it will install, the choice seems obvious. Adient Aerospace’s wide body business class seat is the Ascent product. This is what you’ll find on Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9s, and it’s also what you’ll find on Hawaiian Airlines’ Boeing 787-9s, when the airline takes delivery of them in 2024, plus on American Airlines’ upcoming Boeing 787-9s.

What makes the Adient Ascent product unique is that it’s highly customizable. Most business class products can be customized somewhat, but have a general pattern. After all, what differentiates seat types from one another are the space saving techniques that seat manufacturers use to make the cabin efficient. In the case of the Adient Ascent seat, it’s customizable unlike any other product out there:

  • The product could come in a staggered configuration, where center seats could be turned into double beds
  • The product could come in a hybrid reverse herringbone and herringbone configuration, with reverse herringbone seats along the windows, and herringbone seats in the center; this is similar to Virgin Atlantic’s A350 Upper Class, though those seats are the Safran Cirrus NG variety

This is an excellent seat, and suffice it to say that this will represent a massive upgrade for Ethiopian Airlines’ long haul business class product. I can’t wait to learn more details about the timeline for this.

Adient Ascent cabin on Qatar Airways
Adient Ascent cabin on Qatar Airways
Adient Ascent seat on Qatar Airways

Bottom line

Ethiopian Airlines has selected Adient Aerospace for its Boeing 787 cabins going forward, including retrofitting existing aircraft with these interiors. In business class, this almost certainly means that Ethiopian will introduce the Adient Ascent seat, which would be really exciting.

I’m kind of puzzled by just how many different types of seats the airline has introduced up until this point, but here’s to hoping that this one eventually makes it to all (or nearly all) Dreamliners.

What do you make of Ethiopian’s plans to refresh Boeing 787s?

Conversations (13)
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  1. Øyvind Guest

    I can’t find any other news about this. Are there any updates?

  2. Jenny Guest

    Not a fan of this cramped seat.. that’s always described as “customised” but reality the 4x airlines that I have seen have taken a different coloured version. I was disappointed when I flew it on Qatar branded as Qsuite and I am not looking forward to it becoming Americans backbone when there are so many independent luxury seats out there to choose from.

  3. anvill Guest

    The product inconsistency is gonna go through the roof lol. Just hope that they will install this on all of their modern widebodies too.

  4. TravelinWilly Diamond

    Slightly off topic, but does ET still serve the airplane-shaped graham crackers in business class?

    1. klsd Guest

      I didn't see any on my 4 flights in Jul-Aug. in Business

    2. David Guest

      I haven't seen them served in any class for years. I once asked for a couple extra to give to the kids at home. They gave me a bag of literally 100 packages. Needless to say, they didn't all make it home.

    3. TravelinWilly Diamond

      "Needless to say, they didn't all make it home."

      LOL! I'd have done the same thing...

    4. Ernest T. Rutger Guest

      "Slightly"? Try "T O T A L L Y"

    5. Sean M. Diamond

      No, they have a new vendor for Business Class cocktail snacks since 2000. They are now serving "Taralli Gusto Classico" vegan biscuits by "Fiore di Puglia".

    6. Sean M. Diamond

      Sorry, that should read 2020 rather than 2000.

  5. Optimist Guest

    Let’s hope they tone down the hideous psychedelic colour scheme…

  6. Ram Guest

    I have ORD-ADD-BOM on March 30, Hopefully new seats by then :)

  7. Lee Guest

    Ben, your av-geek articles are particularly useful. Not that I will ever fly Ethiopian and enjoy its new seats. But, the fact that airlines across the board are enhancing passenger experience leaves me optimistic about travel in general. Certainly, room for improvement always remains. But, the ball continues to move forward. Thanks.

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Sean M. Diamond

No, they have a new vendor for Business Class cocktail snacks since 2000. They are now serving "Taralli Gusto Classico" vegan biscuits by "Fiore di Puglia".

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TravelinWilly Diamond

"Needless to say, they didn't all make it home." LOL! I'd have done the same thing...

1
David Guest

I haven't seen them served in any class for years. I once asked for a couple extra to give to the kids at home. They gave me a bag of literally 100 packages. Needless to say, they didn't all make it home.

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