As some of you know from my post last year, I have troops deployed to Djibouti and go out there to visit them about once a year. Last year I flew Turkish Airlines to get there and had good flights on them from FRA-IST-JIB (Djibouti). And I really enjoyed the Turkish lounge in Istanbul which I consider one of the best I have ever been in. I was a little surprised that DTS didn’t give me Turkish again this year and instead flew me on Ethiopian Airlines (symbol ET). The routing was IAD-ADD (Addis Ababa)-JIB which meant an initial 13 hour flight from the States to Africa. I had never flown on ET and admitted I was a little trepidatious about what I would find. I did know that they had the new 787 and was hoping that I would get on that for the long haul flight.
After visiting the new Turkish Lounge at Dulles that morning, I boarded the flight and groaned. No, I looked at the interior and groaned that I guess I didn’t get the 787 judging by the worn looking interior.
After sitting in the seat and reading the safety card, I realized this was the 787! It was just a very questionable fitout of the interior. I was happy as I figured that a new plane meant it had to have in-seat power. Nope! Really Ethiopian Airlines, only a USB port? You have a 13 hour flight and no in-seat power with a new production 787? So I was stuck with the in-flight IFE and a fairly limited selection of watchable entertainment. At least everyone got a decent amenity kit. I was quite glad they had included a toothbrush as I would have to roll right into a meeting with the CG once I landed in JIB. Not sure what I can do with those yellow socks after the flight…
Dinner finally came a couple hours into the flight and I was actually looking forward to it since my breakfast from the lounge had long worn off. Ethiopian food is pretty famous in many parts of America with a really good bread and different piles of tastiness kind of like Kimchi dishes. The FA with her cart seemed to take forever to get to me, but she finally leaned over to me and said rice-with-cheese or vegetable? Now if you have spent time in a lot of foreign countries, you know that what you hear the first time might not always register and you say “what was that again?” or something along those lines. Rice with cheese?! Never in all my many travels have I heard of such a combination. However, she repeated the same thing confirming that indeed that was the main choice. As any adventurous soul would do I said “I’ll have that”.
It was pretty much exactly what was described, boiled sticky (basically one solid piece) of rice topped with something like melted laughing cow.
It came with a side dish of cole slaw and a dinner roll. At least they had a chocolate kind of thing for dessert! The meal was about as bland as possible. I am married to an Asian so I am pretty much an expert on short grained rice and this had the texture of white paste and probably an equivalent taste. The cheese was the blandest I have ever tasted. So I know that if I ever develop an ulcer, I need to move to Ethiopia and eat this every day. Frankly, I would have rather had an MRE!
The timing of this flight left a lot to be desired since we left at 1100 and would land at 0700 local time which was 0000 in DC. This meant I wasn’t particularly tired except for the very last part of the flight. Time ticked on…
Breakfast finally came and it was a little more “normal”.
Finally landing in Addis Ababa with a couple of hours to make my connection. I had heard that there was a nice lounge at ADD. Unfortunately, my connection was in the domestic side of the airport. I went there instead of checking out what I am sure was a nice lounge in the international side since I didn’t know how long it would take me. Turned out that was the right decision since I ended up taking a bus to the other terminal (and a very long walk). I got to the domestic terminal and way at the back of the stereotypically crowded waiting area was a lounge – yay!
The Cloud Nine Lounge is Ethiopian Airlines lounge and, since they are Star Alliance and I am a *A Gold, I was given admittance. Not much to look at inside, but they did have some drinks and food and wifi with a power outlet. At least I had a 30 minute rest checking emails before boarding the next flight to Djibouti.
Hey, I’ll take what I can get. On the return flight I did go through the international terminal with a much nicer Cloud Nine Lounge. On the whole, Ethiopian Airlines would not be my first choice, but the direct flight did cut off about six hours of travel time from last year’s journey.