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Ethiopian Airlines Review

Addis Ababa...
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Ethiopian Airlines Review

f you can help it, try to avoid flying Ethiopian Airlines. The only connections with Ethiopian that are more or less acceptable are the flights between major western cities (London, Frankfurt, Washington, Dublin/LA) and Addis Ababa. Also try to avoid flying Ethiopian if you have to connect at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. I will give detailed reasons for my bad review below.

First of all I would like to clarify on what experiences this review is based. Over the years I have flown Ethiopian Airlines on over 10 flight segments, involving destinations in Africa, Europe and Asia and numerous connections at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport. Additional information used for this review were obtained by Ethiopian Airlines staff, by a representative of an international airline cooperating with Ethiopian Airlines as well as from an official dealing with air travel in a Western destination country of Ethiopian Airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines has a fleet with some very old and some very new airplanes. For example, Ethiopian has bought a number of new Boeing Dreamliners and has signed a contract to buy 14 Airbus 350 extra wide body aircrafts. Ethiopian is currently in the process of expanding its fleet, and as long as you are lucky enough to fly on a Dreamliner (or an A350 after May 2016), you will probably have a pleasant flight experience. The service on Ethiopian Airlines is not far behind that of other international airlines, though flight attendants are - as a general rule of thumb - less professional but at least as friendly as with other airlines. The food on all flights is sub standard when compared to other international airlines. I have also heard form several reliable sources (mentioned above) that Ethiopian is struggling to keep up with safety standards in the USA and the EU. The airline has faced repeated scrutiny by agencies in the US and the EU due to poor safety and maintenance, nevertheless there has been no major security incident involving the airline in the last years. You will realise that even the relatively new Dreamliners look very worn out in the cabin. The planes generally look “dirty” considering that they are so new, toilets are frequently damaged and the seat numbers and plastic parts on overhead lockers are torn off. This is one of the indications that the maintenance of the planes is not on par with other international airlines.

Your real problems start if you have the bad luck to catch one of the old Boeing 767 on a long haul flight. These planes are decades old, dirty, uncomfortable and in some cases do not even have screens with on board entertainment at each seat but have one screen for 3-4 rows without the possibility to choose a movie yourself. If you have the bad luck to fly Ethiopian on long distance flights (e.g. to Bangkok our Rio de Janeiro) and end up in one of the old planes you have one of the worst flight experiences of your life cut out for you. I have had 2-3 of these flights with Ethiopian, and after the last one I swore to myself never to book Ethiopian again if I can help it.

Last but not least the main hub of Ethiopian, Bole International Airport, is chaotic to say the least. Ethiopian airlines has grown rapidly in the past couple of years, and the airport has not kept up with that growth. There are huge queues at the security checks, the personnel at the security is incompetent and extremely rude. The entire airport is baldy managed and if you have a problem expect to be greeted with attitude instead of advice or help. If Addis is your final destination, good luck finding the correct belt where your luggage will be delivered. It is always a guessing game. I also have never waited longer for my luggage anywhere in the world.

I will personally never book Ethiopian airlines again after several very unpleasant experiences. Service and food are worse than on other international airlines, the very old planes used on many connections, the maintenance and safety issues as well as the catastrophically managed hub of the airline are further arguments to stay well clear of Ethiopian Airlines.

39 replies to this topic
London, United...
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1. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

Thanks for your review. I was thinking to book for December and have read quite a few reviews, some were "ok", most were "never again".

After reading yours I have now finally made up my mind to "NO, rather pay more or stay at home"

PG

Dubai, United Arab...
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2. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

This review mixes airline and airport, not very fair.

It also forgets to mention that flying with Ethiopian is cheaper than with other major airlines. Now if you pay less, please also expect a bit less.

And then there are some allegations without proof: <<US and the EU due to poor safety and maintenance>> Just to be clear their maintenance center is US FAA certified and does training as well.

<<These planes are decades old>> So are many aircrafts in the US, Europe and the Middle East and also Airforce 1. So what? It is the maintenance which counts. And given their network their bodies have less cycles per 1000 flight hours.

Addis airport is not great but also not bad and again this is the airport and not the airline. You can fly with many airlines to lousy airports.

So my summary for Ethiopian is very simple. They offer a very good value for money option to fly from A to B. If you are interested in inflight entertainment or good food, then do not fly with them. But good food and airline is a difficult combination. Some of the cabins look tired, agree. But overall it is a valid option for somebody who is budget driven.

Also they offer a very good network to fly around Africa. And compared to other airlines in Africa I fly with them happily every day.

Edited: 27 February 2016, 15:52
England, United...
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3. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

Sounds like this whinger got told 'no' to something he requested on his flight.

The only comment that can be taken as fact from this review is, in his opinion the plane is unclean, he never personally like the food which was served and the cabin is not aesthetically pleasing to him.

The rest seems to be nothing but unfounded speculation....basically alot of tosh!

London, United...
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4. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

The average age of Ethiopian's entire fleet is 5.5 years. Their oldest 767 is 17 years old and the newest is 11. I would happily travel on them if required.

5. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

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London, United...
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6. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

Ah, I do love an insightful first post,,,

Reported.

Adelaide, Australia
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7. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

Hmmm - well we flew Ethiopian in 2011. 6 domestic flights and 2 international. Several transited through Addis.

"Over the years" I have flown with around 60 different airlines on 6 continents - almost always in economy. There are a couple of airlines I would prefer not to fly with again - but Ethiopian is not one of them.

I have never flown an airline where I could say I enjoyed the food (at best it could be OK) and in Ethiopia in general I don't find the food to my liking anyway. But so what you are only on a plane for at most two meals.

Addis airport is slightly chaotic - but is nothing compared to our recent experiences in India and last year in Myanmar.

We found Ethiopian to be a good reliable airline which offered us a very cheap price to fly around northern Africa and the FAs were to my memory polite and professional at al times as were the admin staff with whom we communicated to book our quite complicated itinerary. .

So

Bangkok
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for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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8. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

Hi,

I've flown ET a several times.. A few times IAD-ADD-BKK or v.v. and several times BKK-KUL or v.v. Overall, I'd call them "adequate and more than acceptable"..

Yes, the airport in ADD does not make my personal top-10 list, but as noted by #2, that's not something that I think is fairly or correctly attributable to the carrier itself as ET's parent company (the State government) does not also own or control the airport itself.

As far as ET itself, I've always found them to be overall good.. not excellent, but also not materially lacking in terms of services or product.

Travel Safe,

Cornwall, United...
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9. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

We've just flown with them for the first time to the Seychelles from London and back via Addis.

We chose them because they were the cheapest but also overall a shorter journey time than Emirates as it's more direct.

It is true some of their planes are a bit old and yes, our first leg meant no individual TV screen, but do you know what - it didn't bother us; we read and slept. The food was perfectly fine, not bad, not brilliant but we never expect much from airline food anyway. We ate it and it did the job. I've had worse.

The first plane was a little tatty, but everything worked and the toilets I went into were all fully functioning. The staff were friendly and efficient.

In fact all four legs of our trip took off on time and landed on time (which is more than can be said for many) - that was excellent. I LOVED Addis airport - full of character and typically Ethiopian, much better than the sterile Dubai airport. Everything worked there, we got a day bed for our five hour wait and got free wifi in the cafe I had coffee in. The toilets were also clean and there's a smoking area (for sad people like me) that isn't miles to walk to. Yes, the security queues were a little long but often so is Heathrow and Gatwick.

The reasonable cost of our flight allowed us another week on holiday, so not complaining and very happy to fly with them again. My aim is to get from A to B safely and I don't book an airline for its food or entertainment system.

Caernarfon, United...
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10. Re: Ethiopian Airlines Review

Spot on

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