Review: Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class from Addis Ababa to Cape Town

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Prior to the COVID19 pandemic, I flew Business Class with Ethiopian Airlines from Brussels (Belgium) to Cape Town (South Africa) via the carrier’s hub in Addis Ababa. You can read my trip reports here:


Today (July 8, 2020): Review of Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 777 Business Class from Addis Ababa to Cape Town.

The second leg of my Business Class journey with Ethiopian Airlines was operated by one of the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. In 2015, Ethiopia’s flag airline retrofitted its Boeing 777 Business Class – or “Cloud Nine” as Ethiopian calls its premium cabin product  – with new seats which it promotes as fully flat seats (although they have a 170° instead of 180° recline). Compared the carrier’s Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Business Class cabins and seats, the B777 offers an inferior hard product with a cramped 2-3-2 layout. Ethiopian is a Pan-African global carrier with the youngest fleet in the continent with an average age of less than 7 years and currently serves more than 91 international destinations across 5 continents with over 200 daily departures.

Have you ever flown with Ethiopian Airlines? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

  • Trip: Addis Ababa (ADD) to Cape Town (CPT)
  • Airline: Ethiopian Airlines
  • Aircraft type: 
  • Aircraft registration number:
  • On time departure:
  • On time arrival: 
  • Miles:
  • Flight time:
  • Seat:
  • Class:

In this review (more information & photos below my YouTube clip & slideshow):

  1. Cost of my ticket
  2. Lounge
  3. Business Class cabin
  4. Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
  5. Amenities & bedding
  6. Meals
  7. Entertainment
  8. Onboard internet
  9. Other inflight experiences
  10. My verdict (score)


1. COST OF MY TICKET

I paid this roundtrip Business Class ticket from Brussels to Cape Town with miles & cash: 38 euros + 112000 miles. The ticket was booked via Lufthansa’s frequent flyer program Miles & More. Read my review of Miles & More (with pros, cons, & tips) here.

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BOEING 777-300ER
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BOEING 777-300ER (BEFORE DEPARTURE)
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BOEING 777-300ER
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BOEING 777-300ER (AFTER ARRIVAL)

2. LOUNGE

I have previously published a review of Ethiopian Airlines’ flagship Business Class lounge at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, which you can read here.

GATE AT BOLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
GATE AT BOLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 777 features one large Business Class cabin located in the plane’s front section. There are 28 forward-facing Business Class seats, spread over 4 rows and arranged in a 2-3-2 layout, which means that passengers allocated to seats A, E and J do not have direct aisle access. While this configuration might be acceptable when you are traveling with a family, it’s one to avoid if you are traveling solo since you don’t want to end up in the middle seat. The cabin itself has an open feel and features an unremarkable design with a neutral color palette, except for the red fabric of the seat covers and the colorful Ethiopian Airlines logo on the back wall of the cabin.

Note that Ethiopian Airlines is not the only airline still operating this poor Business Class configuration: Emirates’ B777s and some of Air France’s older B777s have a similar 2-3-2 layout in Business Class.

For a seat map of Ethiopian’s B777s, click here.

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

4. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)

Ethiopian Airlines’ B777 Business Class seat has a pitch of 65 inch (165 cm), which is defined as the space between one point on a seat and the same point on the seat in front. The seat width – defined as the space between the armrests – is 21 inches (53 cm). The entertainment controls, power outlets and headphone jacks are located underneath the center armrest in a somewhat difficult-to-reach spot. The center armrest’s surface features a panel with seat controls, which is easy to use. The tray table is also hidden in this center armrest, and needs to be pulled out of for any use.

Each seat features its own 15,4 inch HD TV, which is controlled by the handset in the center armrest. Below the TV monitor is a large ottoman or footrest which becomes part of the flatbed once the seat is fully reclined. The seat doesn’t feature a lot of storage space: there’s open storage compartment for shoes or other large objects located under the footrest, and there’s an open box for some smaller items (glasses, wallet, phone, etc …) next to the TV.

The seat does not go fully flat but is angled at 170°. IMHO, the recline is acceptable for a decent sleep, and the bed itself is quite comfortable since it has an ‘open’ ottoman, contrary to many other Business Class products these days that require you to place your feet in a tight footwell.

What are the best Business Class seats on Ethiopian’s B777s? For a seat map, click here.

  • The paired seats (A&C or J&L) are quiet good for couples.
  • If you are traveling solo, choose one of the aisle seats (C, D, H, J) so you don’t have to climb over your seatmate’s legs to reach the aisle.

What are the worst Business Class seats on Ethiopian’s B777s? For a seat map, click here.

  • Middle seats (designated by the letter ‘E’ on the seat map) are flanked by other seats on both sides, so avoid them if flying alone, and if traveling with a partner aim for the window pairs instead.
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT

5. AMENITIES & BEDDING

Business Class passengers on one of Ethiopian Airlines’ medium- and longhaul flights receive the following amenities:

  • The amenity kit is presented as a pouch bag (with hook) and contains an eye mask, ear plugs, socks, pen, toothpick, toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, and lip balm. Contrary to most of its competitors, there are no toiletries in the kit.
  • Sleep amenities include a decent pillow (grey color) and a somewhat scratchy blanket (green color).
  • Noise-cancelling headphones are of mediocre quality.
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT

6. MEALS

On this day flight, one meal (lunch) was served, right after takeoff. I was impressed by the menu, which featured a choice of 5 main courses, including:

  • Several of Ethiopia’s national dishes (rolled out on a trolley), such as Tibs Firfir (Ethiopian style spiced stew mixed with fried beef and injera) and Yebeg Alicha (Turmeric lamb stew)
  • Gulf style chicken served with herb rice green beans with pecan nuts
  • Salmon, leek, ginger, served wit sautéed sweet corn and vegetable gumbo

For dessert (rolled out on a trolley as well), there was a choice of chocolate fudge cake, pineapple tart, fruits, and cheese. Overall, the meal service on this flight was much better compared to the previous flight leg (from Brussels to Addis Ababa), especially because of the addition of several delicious Ethiopian dishes to the menu (wich are only available on flights departing from Ethiopia).

HOT TOWEL
WELCOME DRINK
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH

7. ENTERTAINMENT

While Ethiopian Airlines recently installed new seats on its B777 fleet, an update of the inflight entertainment system was not performed. Contrary to the carrier’s B787 and A350 excellent IFE, the B777’s entertainment system feels vintage. The TV doesn’t feature a touchscreen function, and the inflight entertainment selection is controlled by a wired handheld device. Unfortunately, scrolling with the handset through the selection of movies and TV shows is a bit slow.

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES B777 INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

8. ONBOARD INTERNET

Unfortunately, this aircraft was not equipped with WiFi. Ethiopian Airlines is currently installing internet on its A350 fleet (but not on its Boeing 777 aircraft).


9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES

# CREW: The crew on this flight was professional, attentive, and friendly, and appeared more enthusiastic compared to my other flights with Ethiopian.

# LAVATORY:  Ethiopian Airlines’ B777 features two lavatories for Business Class passengers, both located in the galley behind the cockpit. The lavatories are stocked with Ugo Vanelli toiletries, a perfume brand that I am not familiar with.


10. MY VERDICT
  • Seat comfort (upright): 7/10
  • Seat comfort (bed position): 7/10
  • Food (quality): 7
  • Food (quantity): 8
  • Inflight entertainment : 4
  • WiFi: 0/10 (not available)
  • Service: 8/10
  • Cabin design: 7/10
  • Overall experience: good: 7/10

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