Review: Ethiopian Airlines Business Class 767 Addis Ababa To Frankfurt

Filed Under: Ethiopian, Other Airlines

After a roughly six second bus ride from the terminal, we pulled up to the Ethiopian 767 that would be taking us to Frankfurt, in “Star Alliance” livery no less.

Ethiopian Airlines 767

Ethiopian Airlines 767

Boarding was via stairs through door 2L, so upon entering the plane we turned left into the business class cabin.

Ethiopian Airlines 706
Addis Ababa (ADD) ā€“ Frankfurt (FRA)
Friday, July 4
Depart: 10:40AM
Arrive: 5:30PM
Duration: 7hr50min
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 2L (Business Class)

Oy. Hello 1990!

We walked through the rather colorful economy mini-cabin and into the business class cabin, which consisted of a total of 24 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.

Ethiopian Airlines economy class 767

Never again will I complain about angled flat seats after these. These were simply “lounger” seats with a good amount of legroom.

I have to say that they were extremely comfortable for lounging, probably thanks to the fact that they’ve been sat in for 20 years, so have plenty of experience.

Ethiopian Airlines business class seats 767

Ethiopian Airlines business class cabin 767

Ethiopian Airlines business class cabin 767

Ethiopian Airlines business class seat 767

Waiting at my seat was a packaged blanket and a pillow.

Ethiopian Airlines business class seat 767

Ethiopian Airlines business class pillow & blanket

The personal televisions were located in the center console, and on the right side of my seat was the entertainment controller.

Ethiopian Airlines business class entertainment controls 767

Then to the left of the seat were the manual, old-school seat controls.

Ethiopian Airlines business class seat controls 767

Shortly after settling in we were offered amenity kits. They were identical to the ones on the last flight, except they were green instead of red.

Ethiopian Airlines business class amenity kit

Shortly thereafter the two business class flight attendants — Hebest and Hirut — offered us pre-departure beverages — the champagne was reasonably drinkable to begin with, but become even more drinkable when I realized just how bored I’d be on this flight.

Ethiopian Airlines business class pre-departure champagne

Ethiopian Airlines business class champagne

Boarding was super fast due to the light load, and at around 10:15AM we began our pushback and taxi to the runway. When the door closed business class was about two thirds full.

Addis Ababa Airport

I quite enjoyed seeing all the Ethiopian planes on the ground, including some 737s, 787s, etc.

Ethiopian Airlines 737 Addis Ababa Airport

Ethiopian Airlines 787 Addis Ababa Airport

Ethiopian Airlines 787 Addis Ababa Airport

We taxied out to our departure runway, Runway 24, which required crossing Runway 19 first.

Addis Ababa Airport

Addis Ababa Airport

Once at the runway there were a couple of planes ahead of us, including an Ethiopian 737. Both of the pilots on this flight seemed to be Ethiopian (they have a lot of ex-pat pilots, for what it’s worth), and I thought it was pretty awesome that the first officer was female. She made a welcome aboard announcement informing us of our flight time of 6hr55min, which would put us into Frankfurt early.

Addis Ababa Airport

At 10:30AM we began our takeoff roll, and steep climb out of Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa Airport

Addis Ababa Airport

Addis Ababa Airport

The views on departure were quite interesting, and definitely made me want to visit Addis Ababa at some point in the future.

Shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa

Shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa

Shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa

Shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa

About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, and I headed to the lav to change into something a bit more comfortable. The lav wasn’t especially nice, not that 767 lavs ever are, in my experience.

Ethiopian 767 business class lavatory

I decided to browse the entertainment selection, which was lacking.

This aircraft doesn’t have on demand entertainment, but rather about three looping movies (all of which were horrible — we’re talking Night At The Museum, etc.). and one TV show with horrible audio quality.

Ethiopian business class entertainment system

Ethiopian business class entertainment selection

Ethiopian business class entertainment selection

I quickly resigned myself to just watching the airshow the entire flight. Stupidly I hadn’t charged my laptop or phone during the layover, so they were almost dead, and this plane doesn’t have any power ports. Grrr!

Ethiopian business class airshow

Ethiopian business class airshow

Ethiopian business class airshow

Ethiopian business class airshow

Ethiopian business class airshow

For what it’s worth there were also some scratched up headphones in the seatback pocket.

Ethiopian business class headphones

At this point I decided the only way I’d entertain myself on this flight was by eating, eating, eating, drinking, and sleeping (roughly in that order).

The real inflight entertainment started about 20 minutes after takeoff, when a lady was brought up from economy and seated in the center section of row one.

Inflight upgrade on Ethiopian

Moments later the captain came out to hug her, and the rest of the crew all came by to say hi. I couldn’t tell if she was royalty or the captain’s mother, but she got the royal treatment. I’m guessing she was the latter, since the former would have likely been seated in business class from the beginning.

VIP treatment in row one

The crew spent the first half hour of the flight just making sure she was comfortable, and she actually got her whole meal before the service even started for anyone else. Fascinating.

VIP treatment in row one

About an hour into the flight menus were distributed and the meal service (theoretically) began.

Ethiopian business class menu

The lunch menu read as follows:



The service began with drinks and snacks. They had cute airplane shaped crackers and another snack which was quite good.

Ethiopian business class pre-lunch drinks & snacks

I don’t know what took so long, but it was another 45 minute or so before the next course was served. It in no way resembled what was on the menu — the menu had the option between Norwegian gravlax and Italian mozzarella. In reality there was the choice between shrimp and chicken with tomatoes.

Ethiopian business class appetizer and salad

Ethiopian business class appetizer

Ethiopian business class appetizer

Both options were also served with a small side salad.

Ethiopian business class salad

The next course was the “taste of Ethiopian national dish,” which was plated from the cart. The presentation left a bit to be desired, and while I liked the idea of having some Ethiopian food (I’ve had Ethiopian meals in the past and enjoyed them), this one was especially greasy.

Ethiopian business class Ethiopian course

Ethiopian business class Ethiopian course

The main course once again didn’t resemble what the menu listed. I ordered the cannelloni, which they apparently hadn’t catered. Instead they suggested I have the pasta, which seemed to in fact be the creamy seafood ragout. It tasted about as good as it looked…

Ethiopian business class main course

Andrew also wanted the cannelloni, but since they didn’t have that they offered him beef instead, which wasn’t on the menu. It was quite possibly the most unappetizing looking beef dish I’ve ever seen on a plane (which is saying a lot).

Ethiopian business class main course

For dessert was the choice between mousse and cheesecake. They were probably the highlight of the meal.

Ethiopian business class dessert

Ethiopian business class dessert

And since I had just picked at the previous courses and was quite bored, I ordered the cheese plate as well.

Ethiopian business class cheese course

So yeah, not the best meal I’ve ever had on a plane. And it took forever, which wasn’t actually a bad thing, since I had nothing else to do. But it was over three hours into the flight before the meal was finished.

Admittedly it’s totally my fault for not coming prepared on this flight. I should have brought hours of TV shows and made sure all my electronics were charged, so this was the first longhaul flight in a while where I had absolutely nothing to do. My electronics were drained and none of the looping movies looked interesting to me. So I tried to doze off, mostly unsuccessfully, though managed to keep my eyes closed for a couple of hours (even though I woke up with quite a bit of neck pain, since I must have been employing the Willow Smith method of whipping my neck back and forth).

I woke up with a couple of hours to go to Frankfurt, where the entertainment continued. The captain must have talked to the lady in row one for over an hour, and then later the first officer came out as well to greet her (I should point out that there were only a total of two pilots working this sector, so collectively for several hours there was only one pilot in the flight deck).

Ethiopian airshow

Eventually we began our descent into Frankfurt.

Approach into Frankfurt

Approach into Frankfurt

Approach into Frankfurt

Approach into Frankfurt

We touched down on Runway 7R at 4:35PM, well ahead of schedule.

Approach into Frankfurt

Unfortunately it took us about 20 minutes to taxi to our arrival gate — 10 of those minutes were spent waiting to cross the parallel runway.

Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport

Eventually we arrived at our gate at around 4:55PM, still over 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

Ethiopian Airlines business class bottom line

On the plus side, the flight was safe, which is the most important aspect of travel. And it was early.

Aside from that, I don’t really have much to say. The service was slow and not especially friendly, the food was borderline inedible, the plane was ancient, and entertainment non-existent.

What I find ridiculous is that this flight was scheduled to be operated by a 787 when we first booked. While angled flat seats aren’t exactly revlutionary, they’re leaps and bounds ahead of this product. The fact that they constantly swap aircraft type and charge the same fares for them is kind of ridiculous, in my opinion.

It would be like booking business class from the US to Europe on a US airline, only to have a 737 with domestic first class seats subbed in (and at least those seats would have built-in power ports).

Have you flown one of Ethiopian’s 767s before? If so, what was your experience?

  1. When you say the flight was at least safe, do you mean it landed? An ancient plane with a crew that spends most of the time outside the cockpit…wouldn’t lead me to use safe as my first descriptor.

  2. ‘It would be like booking business class from the US to Europe on a US airline, only to have a 737 with domestic first class seats subbed in (and at least those seats would have built-in power ports).’

    This actually happened to me on a Brazil-US AA flight (757 instead of 737 though). Was horrible by comparison.

  3. That food probably came from some sort of buffet restaurant close to the airport. They probably forgot to cater food and then asked the closest restaurant to deliver directly to the plane. Gross!!!!

  4. Fun to read this review. I love the colorful seats of this carrier, so classy šŸ˜€ . This plane and the “product” is really like a travel back in time.

  5. As I mentioned before, you flew on ET-ALO which is far and away the best of the 767 fleet. Most of the others do not have seats with as much pitch, no PTVs and the smaller overhead bins. If you think the experience on ET-ALO was bad, you ain’t seen nothing. I’ve flown most of the fleet at various times and I exult if I see ALO or ALP down to operate the flight I’m on! šŸ™‚

  6. Hey, that’s the same champagne they serve in Delta BE. I wonder if the only people who buy that brand are the airlines

  7. And the lavatory was once again only stocked with tissues instead of paper towels. What’s the deal with that?

    My favorite part was that it was like a time machine back to 1990. I was hoping they would be looping Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and episodes of Murphy Brown on the TVs.

  8. Lucky, sounds like you need a Kindle with some good books on it. Battery lasts for weeks so you almost never find yourself with a dead battery!

  9. Call me a little crazy.. I’m going to throw this wild idea out there. Maybe … just maybe… it might be a good idea to have a book available to read when there’s no places to power up gadgets. I know.. I know! You’re probably thinking what’s a book? Is that the old archaic way of reading that doesn’t involve an e-reader or tablet, but actually uses trees to make a binding that can be read!! Well it is an old technology but it these sorts of situations can help save someone’s sanity by providing some form of entertainment. Even if someone doesn’t want to go all out novel there are magazines (books with glossy pictures) and even books with crosswords/puzzles (paper that you have to use a piece of wood with a shaft of graphite through it to complete the puzzles… it’s almost like using reeds for cuniform tablets!) šŸ˜‰

  10. Power brick from NewEgg was about the best $30 I’ve ever spent. Charges my phone 3-4 times. I suggest 14000mAh version.

  11. @ Dina – Wowwww…
    @ Lucky – it’s a shame they run 767s regularly HKG – ADD. At least neither FRA or HKG get a Dash 8…

  12. Just scored the Allpowers portable charger for about $37 on Amazon. Takes forever to charge because it’s rated at 50000 mAh, and holds a ton of chargeable power, but has two USB outlets to charge on-the-go. It even comes with a USB cord and a few extra tips to charge all kinds of power-hungry items!

  13. @ Alvin – my post was meant to be satirical and funny about society in general and the importance of electronics in our lives ( I include myself when I’m talking about electronics). Not meant to disparage lucky at all. I just enjoyed writing something and using the word cuneiform!

  14. “We touched down on Runway 7C at 4:35PM, well ahead of schedule. Unfortunately it took us about 20 minutes to taxi to our arrival gate ā€” 10 of those minutes were spent waiting to cross the parallel runway.”

    You would only have to cross the runway if you arrived on 7R – arriving on 7C in FRA, there is no other parallel runway to cross on your way to the terminal.,+Frankfurt+am+Main&hl=de&ll=50.035643,8.558264&spn=0.021942,0.038581&sll=48.358399,10.86144&sspn=0.363178,0.617294&oq=frankfurt+flughafen&t=h&z=15

  15. I took ET for my trip to Chad from Seoul stopping at Bangkok and Addis. Plane to BKK was by Korean Air and it was not bad but from BKK was a pain in the ass. Plane got delayed and they booked us a room at novotel near by airport telling us the plane will be there at 8:30. When we got to the airport we waited and waited until it was noon.
    At Addis it was a nightmare. It seem that almost everyone on the flight was to stay at Addis and it took us 2hours to get visa and document for the hotel.
    To top this off all our bags went to Eygpt instead of Seoul on our return flight as well as 787 being changed to 767. lol.

  16. Dear Lucky, thanks for delivering all this fantastic reports.
    For me it looks like (ET) Ethiopian is just missing the finesse and final touch?

  17. @ peterfox — I’d say that’s true on the 787/777, but I’d say there’s a bit more than that missing on the 767.

  18. Thanks for sharing!
    I am looking at a flight with them now – need some more Star Alliance miles to keep the Star Gold card. Do they offer some miles in Business at least, to make up for the not so amazing service? I flew them in Economy once, when I lost me LH connection – and that is a no-go – never again.

  19. Just an update, Selamta, Ethiopian’s inflight magazine reports in this month’s issue that the 767s will be upgraded imminently in business class to angled flat seats. Better late than never.

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