#920889 by honey lamb
06 May 2016, 17:14
If you have read my previous TRs about my Emirates flights to Durban you may have noticed our return was with Ethiopian Airlines. This was the cheapest thrown up by the third party site I had sourced on the internet. The sensible me said to go to a tried and trusted airline like Emirates and book its walk-up fare for €60 more on its website; the adventurous me said to book it! Well, I can’t resist a challenge like that and equally I was aware that my niece, J had just returned from South Africa and had not expected to be returning ten days later for her mother’s funeral and at that stage €60 was a luxury she could not afford. The flights were booked and everyone was notified of our plans, including Aer John. To be honest, all I was concerned about was getting there with the minimum of fuss and if we had an adventure on the way back - well!!! :grin: Because Ethiopian Airlines had been early users of the Dreamliner (and we all can remember how some of them went up in flames :eek: ) as well had acquired the new A350, I was looking forward to my flight. However my dreams were to be shattered by Aer John who responded to my text saying did I realise I would be spending 6 hours in a 737 from Durban to Addis Ababa. I didn’t but I reminded him that I had spent a similar amount of time in a 737 from EWR to SEA squashed in the middle seat by a buxom lady who spread lavishly over my seat. He, of course didn’t remember this as he had the luxury of the window seat. Anyhow, back to this TR. I responded that at least we would have the Dreamliner for the final leg and that was fine.

Before we set off on our first leg of the trip to Dubai, he filled us in on the operations of Ethiopian Airlines in DUB. J had been aware of them as her house is near the take-off runway and she had seen them in the air. The service to Dublin had started last November and the flight stops there before going on to LAX. Passengers would be off-loaded, the plane security checked and re-catered and then it was on its way. In addition two other flights to IAD and Toronto stop in Dublin for refuelling and they are parked in a remote secure area for that purpose.

Back to the TR proper. We bade a sad farewell to my brother, not realising we would see him again about 20 minutes later as J realised that she had left her phone charging in the kitchen. :roll: Once retrieved we were delivered to King Shaka airport by J’s sister with plenty of time to catch our plane. We checked in and it was as pleasant an experience as you could wish for with our bags checked through all the way to DUB. King Shaka is a new airport and was built for the 2010 World Cup and to my mind is a great white elephant. The old airport was small and intimate but capable of handling heavy wide-bodies. (It also had the advantage of being 20 minutes from my brother’s home as opposed to the 45 minutes to the new one - not that I am biased!) We checked in and then headed for Mugg & Bean for something to eat as neither of us had felt inclined to eat breakfast that day and then went to the departure area. Now I have travelled many times from the domestic area where there is a shuttle of flights to and from JNB as well as other South African airports. It is busy (but not overly so) with loads of shops, places to eat and indeed everything you expect to see in an airport. The international side is woeful in the extreme. Once you are past security there is a small duty-free shop, a coffee shop and a place that calls itself a lounge so that you would think it is an airline lounge but basically it is a middle of the road bar and restaurant. The airline lounges are on the domestic side and to access them you have to go there before making your way back and then through international security. The amount of space is huge with a whole lot of wastage of escalators going up and down to nowhere in particular. The amount of airlines using it is minimal. On a good day there are flights with Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian. The other days, the only international one might be Emirates although there are occasional flights to Mozambique and Harare. It truly is woeful.

We eventually went through International departures security which was absolutely deserted and after a brief stop at the Duty Free shop we made our way to the gate were a handful of people were waiting. We watched as our flight arrived and was cleaned and re-catered. More passengers arrived but it was clear that there was no way it was going to be a full flight. Zones for boarding had been marked on our boarding passes but the reality was that when it came to it, they might as well have shouted “All aboard!” :lol:

We were welcomed on board by the the lead crew member who was dressed in what I can only suppose was something approaching national dress. It was a white, knee-length dress edged in blue with a similar shawl draped over one shoulder. The rest of the crew were dressed in more conventional uniforms. As we progressed to our seats, it was apparent that that single travellers had a row to themselves and the only rows with multiple occupancy were ones where people were travelling together - like us!! The plane itself was a tad shabby - on a par with the 777 from DXB and J immediately commented that there were no PTVs on the seats. I opined that there would be drop-down screens and, as if on cue, they did to show the safety video which was a tad boring as they showed each screen first of all in Ethiopian with English subtitles and then repeated the screen in reverse language order! It seemed to take forever! We pushed back on time and after a longish trundle to the runway we were soon soaring along over the Valley of the 1000 Hills en route to Addis Ababa.

Once released to their duties the crew came round with a luke-warm towel run followed and snacks were distributed. After Aer John’s message that we were on a 737, I had accessed details of the flights and on each leg the meal was described as “Snacks” We had laughingly commented that it would be a choice between cheese and onion crisps or onion and cheese crisps. When these were distributed we lost no time in posting pictures of them saying that was our meal service!!
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This was followed by the drinks trolley. OK, folks! You have been with me through trials and tribulations which have beset me through all my travels and have bemoaned the fact on my last few trips the disaster rating has fallen to virtually zero, but now it was going to be racked up to epic proportions! The good lady on the drinks trolley gave J the white wine she requested and when I asked for a G&T she presented me with a can of tonic. I politely requested the gin to go with it but after a discussion with the cabin crew, who was perfectly charming but whose English was just about sufficient, I came to realise that, horror of horrors!!, there was NO GIN!!! :shock: :eek: Now anyone who knows me knows that, unless I am driving at the end of the flight, no flight is complete without a G&T. Well I got such a shock that I nearly needed a defibrillator! However I requested and received a red wine instead, which was actually quite nice, but no G&T! Well words fail me! Just to make sure I peered into the trolley where they normally keep the drinks as it went past and the reality was that there were no spirits for Economy class passengers. Mingy pigs - as we used to say in the school yard many decades ago! :evil:

The meal service followed and the choice was lasagne or chicken. We both chose lasagne which was accompanied by a curious bean salad.
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It was tasty enough and was followed by a dessert which I suspect was a take on malva pudding, beloved in South Africa. Cheese and biscuits were also on the tray and it was a satisfying, if rather a skimpy, meal.

We had been offered earphones at the start of the flight but had eschewed them, preferring to use our various devices. When the meal service had ended, we requested and were given another bottle of wine each and entertained ourselves from pre-loaded stuff. At one stage I gazed up at the drop down screen. There appeared to be a giant spider roaming around and in another shot a werewolf-type animal seemed to be careering around the frozen food section in a supermarket while some teenagers tried to thwart him. It seemed a bit like Supermarket Sweep without Dale Winton!! :lol:

Although the flight had left at 2.30pm, after the meal service the blinds were put down and the lights were switched off and everyone seemed to bed down for the rest of the flight apart from this young man.
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Going to the back of the aircraft to the loo, everyone was flat out and indeed it was an obstacle course to get there because of the number of legs intruding into the aisle! The rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed at 9.30pm after six hours, given that Ethiopia is one hour ahead of time. It was dark but as we taxied, the thing that struck me was the number of Ethiopian Airlines planes on the ground. It seemed to be second only to Emirates with regard to the number of aircraft but as we taxied, I failed to be able to see a terminal. Of course, I didn’t. We parked at a remote stand and were bussed into the terminal and our next adventure………

………..which you really must read!! :twisted:
#920912 by sungod
07 May 2016, 12:40
those little plane snacks look cute, were they nice?

first time i can recall reading about a flight on this airline, aside from the lack of gin, with the low load it sounds like it wasn't too bad

EXCEPT that bloke with his foot on the armrest in front, other people's feet is a pet hate of mine when flying!

now i'm all agog for the next installment
#920954 by honey lamb
08 May 2016, 22:14
sungod wrote:those little plane snacks look cute, were they nice?

They were. One of the nicest snacks I have had on an airline, except I manage to knock mine over and they spilled all over the floor of the cabin!
#920969 by pjh
09 May 2016, 11:52
Glad to see the spirit of adventure is still there :)

I'd be tee'd off with the foot monster. A while back I spent almost the entire flight from Sao Paulo in WT+ with my neighbour's stinky plates perched on a flat surface directly in front of me. Not BA's fault, but it's now my abiding image of the BA WT+ cabin (and to add insult to injury I'd paid for the upgrade myself...).

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