Ethiopia Airlines is the flag carrier of Ethiopia and has been in operation since April 08, 1946. It is wholly owned by the Government of Ethiopia and serves 101 international and 22 domestic destinations. Its flights have two classes: Cloud Nine which combines First and Business Class and Economy Class.
When I recently needed to travel to Windhoek, Namibia from Nairobi, Kenya, I went online in search of flight options with two main search option guides 1) Cheapest Flight 2) Deliver me in Windhoek. Thus for hours, I had my eyes fixated on my laptop, my fingers playing with any and all search words I could get. I used my usual go to search platforms- Google, Fare compare, Skyscanner, Trip Advisor among others. I put out alerts for when flights to that route would drop across airlines and search platforms among others. When a decision had to be made, Ethiopia Airlines won-They had the cheapest cost for a return flight Nairobi-Windhoek and the flight would deliver me in Windhoek without having to change airlines enroute. I would thus be flying Ethiopia Airlines whose tag line is “The New Spirit of Africa” . The first leg of my flight would be a two hours fifteen minutes flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In Addis Ababa, I would have one hour fifteen minutes to connect to my next Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Windhoek and the flight would take five hours forty five minutes.
Be warned, Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is huge. You are received by a courtesy bus from your flight and are driven to the Airport building. Be very attentive to the signs that offer directions or you will get lost or miss your flight even though you are at the airport. Their check in is intense, everyone has to remove their shoes in addition to your jacket before the usual jewellery, belts. metals etc. This is also the only check in area that I have noted always beeps if I have worn a bra with an under wire. So ladies, to save yourself a pat down ( I really hate these), feel free to ensure you have no metal on you, that includes an underwire bra and even a hair pin :-). My only wish is that the staff on ground smiled or were more engaging while serving-its never that serious.
Now to the experience that is flying with Ethiopian Airlines, The New Spirit of Africa. First up, though the flight was the cheapest for this route and I was on the Economy Class, they did not treat us like “Cheap Skates.” The air hostesses were very friendly and warm and tried to meet all our needs. Second and very important, the food provided was “Awesome” if I may say so myself. I usually do not enjoy airline food, I tend to find it bland and hardly eat it. However, on this trip, I was pleasantly surprised, the food was really good, everything from the Main dishes which included Beef, Chicken, Fish to the desserts. They also offer a wide selection of soft drinks, wines , hot beverages and are warm enough to top up your meal or drink if you ask. I practically tested this out by requesting for a second main course platter for dinner-Their beef was that good :-). She actually brought me a whole platter including the dessert all with a smile and no side eyes when I asked for extra drinks. Thank You Ethiopian Airways for treating me and my Economy compatriots like First Class Passengers, even though, we were on Economy budgets 🙂
Second, is the bright smiles that met us as we boarded. I always say, the initial reception by the crew prepares you for what to expect on the flight. They were all smiles and this happened on all the four airplanes I rode on this trip. They also all looked very smart in their green and cream uniforms, well applied make-up, nice hair dos, nice nails and their beautiful smiles. I was also pleasantly surprised to notice one of them wearing a traditional Ethiopian dress and I think perhaps, this should be incorporated as one of their official uniforms.
The professionalism of the pilots is also to be highly commended. Never once, in all the four flights I took, did I experience the body numbing, ear splitting noise that tends to occur on most flights. At no time did I try not to breath, or try to chew my tongue or even hold my hands over my ears during the flight, to curb the common ear splitting sound/noise that occurs on most flights. I know you know what I am talking about, right? Thank You so much to the pilots. Someone once told me that if you experience it, the pilots are to blame.
In regards to legroom, I can confirm, in the dream liner, everyone seemed very very comfortable. Let me just say it out loud, A dream liner is huge, it is spacious and is a beauty to look at both inside and out. There is adequate legroom for all and the personal mini TV looked like it was HD and it had such a wide array of movies and music. It also provided enough space for one to walk up and down during the five hour forty five minute flight, which is highly recommended.
In the smaller airplanes, the legroom seemed also Ok though not extra like in the dream liner. I always advise everyone to be “smart” in their seat selection if you are not able or willing to purchase a Cloud Nine seat. The first row that starts off the Economy Section always has extra legroom, the seats near the Emergency Exits also have extra leg room. I opted for the Emergency Exit Window Seat which not only allowed me extra extra legroom , but also gave me great views while we were in the clouds as well as landing. I love window seats as I get to have a view of the clouds and destinations as we leave and arrive. I also really enjoy take off and landing thus, I am always glued to watching the wings and the flaps on the back of the wing extend or lie flat during take off and landing, I love love love this.
The process of buying or booking a ticket is also really effortless and I did so on their App, on my mobile phone, which accorded me extra discount. It is also great that they have various payment options like creditcard, Mpesa or reserve and pay at their office. I opted to reserve and pay at their Nairobi town office, because I am old school-I want an official printed ticket confirming my flight. Here is where I met and was served by an amazing lady called Angela. She officially gets the Ethiopian Airlines Customer Service Award from me. She had a genuine smile the whole time she served me and never once gave me a side eye when my “crazy day” decided to show off at her desk. One, I did not have my passport or passport details on me, which she required to confirm and check me in. Two, when I requested a few minutes to call and get my passport details, she granted me even though closing time was fast approaching. Alas, my phone decided that was the opportune time to die a no charge death. I looked at her, I looked at the clock, official working hours were over. Instead of her advising me accordingly to go do it at home, she looked at me with empathy and a smile, proceeded to offer me her charger to revive my phone and proceeded to print me my ticket, confirm and check me in, all with a genuine smile. I will forever be grateful to her for the Extra Customer Service that she accorded me-Ethiopia Airlines, she needs an award.. Thank You Angela.
As you can tell, I enjoyed flying with Ethiopian Airlines. I think I have identified what their tag line “The New Spirit of Africa” represents. It represents The New Spirit of Great Customer Service in all facets of their service. It is great that they do not compromise on great service whilst keeping their cost low on this route I plied. It was also great to receive First Class Service whilst in the Economy section, everything from extra meals and drinks, all served with a smile. Go on, feel no shame, ask for extras, it comes at no extra cost. This was to be a great start to my amazing visit to Namibia that would be all versions of adventure, exploration, culture, friendships and funtimes-articles to follow shortly. Now, all that’s currently buzzing in my mind is I need to fly in Cloud Nine. When I peeked into it as we boarded the Dream Liner , I have been left with a “Dream” to ” want to fly in Cloud Nine, on the Dream Liner”. Ethiopia Airlines, do you make dreams come true?