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Monday 24 February 2020

Experiencing African Hospitality (Part 4: ADD-SIN)

Welcome to my final instalment of my African Flying Adventure!

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner landing at Seoul ICN Airport, photographed by Samuel - rjbb.

During my stay, I did a check on my return flight, the ADD-SIN sector had the aircraft changed to the 787-9 Dreamliner, however, just a few days before the flight, it was changed back to the -8 series. That was disappointing! The Boeing 787-9 does fly to Singapore but on a rare occasion. 

Trip report 

After my previous flight from London, I had about a couple of hours to spare for my last flight with the airline for this year. You can check out that trip report over here.

During the transit at ADD airport

It was a nightmare at the airport. Unlike my previous trip here, it was much crowded this time. It turns out that there was a lot of connecting flights to both Europe and Asia. The airport seems to be struggling to cope with the number of passengers. The lack of seating areas and poor connectivity of the airport WiFi are some of the issues the connecting passengers, in particular, are facing. I went around to find a good place to relax, but there wasn't any. By the time I found a good spot, it was almost time to board my flight. 

The terminal was crowded, not an ideal time to come. This airport certainly needs an increase in capacity.

As the number of gates with aerobridges was insufficient, a lot of international flights were assigned to bus transfer to the aircraft and that can be inconvenient especially if the flights are full. Fortunately, no A380 flights at this airport for now.

If you are transiting at this airport, it is best to hang around the gate and sitting area is hard to in peak hours. There are sections catered for handicapped and family with kids only. There will be staff walking around, enforcing the rule. 

About Ethiopian Airlines 

Ethiopian Airlines is a government-owned airline set up in 1945 and was originally known as Ethiopian Air Lines. It started commercial service on April 1946 and it evolved throughout the years. The airline started international flights in 1951, operating the likes of Boeing 707 and 737 for both international and domestic flights. This airline joined the star alliance in 2011.

Currently (Feb 2020), the airline is operating a fleet of 14 Airbus A350-900XWB, 10 Boeing 737-700, 18 Boeing 737-800, 4 grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 with 27 on order, 6 Boeing 767-300 (Being replaced by Boeing 787), 6 Boeing 777-200LR, 4 Boeing 777-300ER, 19 Boeing 787-8, 6 Boeing 787-9 with 4 more on order and 26 Dash 8-400 with 7 more on order. 

This airline also has the cargo subsidiary and it operates a fleet of 2 Boeing 737-800F and 10 Boeing 777F. 

My journey

Route: ADD-SIN

Miles: 4,516 km

My ride: ET-AOO

Aircraft name: Lake Tana

Delivered in July 2013

Engines: 2 X GEnx 

Born in Everett 

39th Boeing 787 

Fantastic photo by Yochai Mossi -Airteamimages, photographed at Tel Aviv.

Departure date: 18th December 2019
Airline: Ethiopian Airlines
Flight: ET639
Route: ADD-SIN
Aircraft type: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Registration: ET-AOO
Gate: C4
Seat: 35A (Windowless seat)
Flight duration: 8 hours 30 min
Load: 100% in Y class
Departure time: 0010
Boarding: 2325
Pushed back: 0033
Take off: 0100
Scheduled arrival time: 1450
Actual arrival time: 1447
Departure runway: 07R
Arrival runway: 02L

Boarding took place at the crowded gate and you have to be alert. The best thing is to be sitting near the gate area and watch out for the gate agents. If I had fallen asleep at that time, I can fairly say I would have missed the flight. Squeezing myself onto the bus, we were soon on our way to our aircraft which was parking along with other wide-body aircraft during the peak hour. It seems almost all the parking lots at the remote bay were filled up. When I looked at the registration of the nose gear, I had to stare hard to realise I was on ET-AOO, not AOQ, it was quite difficult at that timing. Once onboard, I walked towards my seat and was flabbergasted to see my window seat was without the window! What luck! My seatmates were a couple, probably from the African origin. The boyfriend annoyed me as his leg kept coming into my space and his arms hitting me during the flight. The flight experience this time was not as pleasant as my previous.  

Photos of my return flight 

Welcome on board ET-AOO!

The Economy Class seats 

The touchscreen on my IFE system wasn't working, so I had to use the remote control and that was very inconvenient. 

The positive thing about this (Below) is I could rest my head on it. 

I would have very much preferred this seat! A window seat with an actual window!

See this problem with my seat?

Bulkhead row seat is still the best, I could have opted for it but the window seat was not available. 

The trip went past too quickly for my liking and its back in Singapore, this time in daylight. 

In-flight experience 

The flight turned out to be full with many were on their way to KUL. This flight routing is ADD-SIN-KUL-SIN-ADD. For the aircraft, it would be a fairly long duty for it. I believe Ethiopian crew will fly on to KUL where they will have their mandatory rest before the trip back to ADD. 

Greeted by the young and energetic crew, I was shown the way to my seat. They were alright but a few of them seemed overwhelmed with the full flight but they were ok. One issue I have on this flight is the in-flight meals. The departure time from ADD was around midnight and we were not given much of a choice, I would rather have something light to munch on before taking a nap. Later on, when breakfast came, we were served a rice meal again and I could hardly eat. Both meals were bland, I was disappointed with the catering. This was the first time I couldn't eat finish the breakfast, in fact, I took a few spoonfuls of rice and that's it. I believed there were others feeling the same as me.

The flight had bumps but nothing bad to mention about. I couldn't sleep much due to the annoying seatmate bumping either his leg or arm at me and there were a few times, he put his legs onto the seat, sitting in a very awful position. Most parts of the flight, I used the IFE system which offers a very limited amount of programs. We landed safely at Changi Airport on time and I was glad to be off the plane. The Boeing 787 is still a nice aircraft to fly on, that would be better if you are flying on the premium classes of course. 

The In-flight meals 


Midnight supper

My flight review 

My rating: 

ADD Airport Experience: 5/10
Airport staff: 6/10 
In-flight service: 6/10
In-flight experience: 5/10
Cabin interior: 7/10
Cleanliness: 8/10
In-flight meals: 5/10
In-flight entertainment system: 6/10
Aircraft condition: 7/10
Punctuality: 10/10
Overall rating: 65/100


After flying on all 4 sectors with this airline, I would probably give the airline a rating of 3 out of 5. Nothing much to shout about with the Economy Class products except for the A350 which offers WiFi and better IFE system. I believe the Boeing 777 fleet has the same IFE system as the 787 and I wonder whether they will standardize the IFE system in the near future, it would be great to do so. Maybe when they are doing better, they can revamp the Economy Class, that would be a good idea because the Economy Class product could do with some nice upgrade. As for the in-flight service, there is nothing to shout about, but the crew generally are nice. One big plus about flying with this airline with a long layover at ADD airport is the hotel stay which includes the transit visa provided by the airline, I think this will help boost tourism in certain ways. Will I fly with this airline in the near future? Why not? I am interested in flying with the airline's Boeing 777 especially the -200LR.

Hope you enjoy this trip report! Next blog post: My 2019 Trip report Review! (Do stay tuned for it)


For part 1 (SIN-ADD), click here
For part 2 (ADD-LHR), click here
For part 3 (LHR-ADD), click here