Ethiopian Airlines have some very good prices on direct flights from Dublin to Los Angeles which I’ve posted about. I’ve flown Ethiopian before but always heading from Dublin to Addis Ababa and beyond. This was my first time flying Ethiopian over to Los Angeles. My camera is pretty poor quality so there aren’t as many photos as I had hoped in fact there’s only one.
Ethiopian Airlines operate from Terminal 1 in Dublin Airport. As the flight leaves at 6:50 there tends to be quite a lot of Ryanair flight scheduled around the same time. I arrived at 5.00 am and there was no queue at all for the Ethiopian check in. After verifying my passport I was issued my boarding passes very quickly. I asked were there 3 seats together that I could have so I would be able to lie down for the flight. The agent reprinted a new boarding card and said she blocked the other two seats on the system so I’d have three in the middle to myself.
Due to my frequent flyer status I was able to use the Fast Track Security Queue in Dublin Airport. Again there was no queue at all and I walked straight through. The regular security queue had a 15 minute wait which isn’t bad at all. Less than 10 minutes after getting off the bus I was sitting in the lounge.
The flight was due to depart at 6:50 with boarding starting at 6:05. However, boarding for the flight was delayed and at 6:40 I headed to the gate to see what was happening. It turns out there was some issue with fuelling and they needed to wait for a fire truck which kept me entertained.
Once boarding commenced the 30 or so passengers getting on in Dublin boarded at the same time and it was nice and quick. This flight is a tag on flight to the Addis Ababa to Dublin flight, with passengers flying all the way from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles staying on board. This can be an issue as people will move seats to stretch out on the first flight without realising more people will be getting on in Dublin. When I boarded there was a guy in my seat. He moved to the other aisle seat so it turned out I didn’t have the three seats to myself. h
Due to the delayed boarding we took off about an hour late. Shortly after take off there was a drinks services and a very small ‘chicken‘ sandwich. I think all the catering for the flight is done from Addis Ababa. The sandwich was edible but I’m still not sure after eating it if it was chicken or not…
I wanted to readjust to US time as quickly as possible so I wanted to sleep as much as possible. I found the seats very comfortable and they had good recline. While the seats are quite narrow, with a spare seat beside me it made no difference. What did prevent me from sleeping was for the first 30 minutes or so there appeared to me non-stop announcements – route details, arrival details, duty free details, join Sheba Miles, Star Alliance etc. I’m a big fan of as few announcements as possible. I was also woken up when the guy in the other aisle decided to lie down across the three seats using me as a footrest…
I slept quite well for the entire flight waking every so often. I noticed that they did quite a lot of drink services. I’ve always found the cabin crew to be brilliant with Ethiopian while they might not be as polished as some of the top airlines they are genuine and friendly. About two hours out there was dinner service. To me, the meals were the wrong way round. I was expecting breakfast before landing in LAX as we landed at 9am. Although I have no clue what time zones the people that boarding in Addis would be on!
The meal choice was the classic Chicken or Beef. I chose the chicken and it was served with rice and vegetables. Alongside the main was a bean salad, bread roll and a snack bar. The meal was standard airline food nothing noteworthy. While having the meal I took a look at the IFE. Each seat has its own on demand entertainment with what appears to be a larger screen that Aer Lingus Economy. There was an OK selection of movies and TV shows but this would be one area they could improve on and offer a bigger range. There is no wifi on Ethiopian while Aer Lingus do offer it.
We arrived into Los Angeles and seemed to taxi for quite a while. We eventually parked up at a remote stand. After arriving at the gate everyone stood up and was standing in the aisle but no one actually moved. After about 15 minutes people started getting worked up and shouting. We were told that we were waiting for ground staff to open the door. Finally they turned up and we got off and onto a bus which took us to Tom Bradley International Terminal to clear customs and immigration. This is completed on kiosks were you answer questions, get your fingerprints and photo taken and a receipt is printed out. If the receipt has an X through it, you must then go to an immigration officer. Otherwise, you don’t need to interact with an office and can go straight through to picking up your bags.
A lot of people rave about pre-clearance in Dublin but I personally think it is very over-hyped. I was through immigration in LAX in 5 minutes. I can’t remember the last time I cleared in Dublin that quickly. Once through immigration my bag was already on the belt and I cleared customs.
Overall, I’m a big fan of Ethiopian Airlines. When you consider I paid €370 for return direct flights to LAX including meals and baggage on a modern B787 its hard to complain. If I was to be very picky I would say the range of entertainment offered could be improved and something should be done so those originating in Addis Ababa don’t move around the cabin or at least are sent back to their own seats. I don’t particularly want to get into my seat to find rubbish in the seat back pocket.
To sum up:
Would I fly Ethiopian Airlines again? Yes.
If Aer Lingus and Ethiopian were the same price which would I pick? Probably Ethiopian to be honest, mainly to avoid pre-clearing.