Ethiopian growing pains

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  • TheCount
    Participant

    Ethiopian invests heavily in new aircraft. Its A350 is great but it’s all for nothing if the overall travel experience is poor. Maybe ET is so successful it doesn’t care. Addis was never my favourite airport but it’s recently descended into utter chaos at night. Its Star Gold lounge is an embarrassment, by far the worst I’ve experienced anywhere. It would be better not to try to offer the service than to devalue the product. Doesn’t Star Alliance oblige its members to keep to minimum standards? ET’s Cloud 9 business lounge is hardly any better.

    As for security, staff seem overwhelmed by the sheer number of simultaneous long haul departures late at night. Hundreds of people cram security lanes, jostling, pushing, with no proper signposting. Few ground staff speak fluent understandable English which adds to the confusion. To organise it properly and put up signs wouldn’t cost a cent so why don’t they? It’s the same all the way to the gate. I was directed to a business class waiting zone “on the left” – the only thing on the left was a roped off area with a few wheelchairs, again no sign. Do management visit boarding areas? Or do they blame the confusion on the airport authority?

    But my major concern about ET is what may appear to be a slapdash approach to safety by some cabin crews. On neither of two economy class flights I took recently did crew members explain to passengers sitting in exit rows, who mostly didn’t speak English, what their duties would be in the event of an emergency. That was true of a local flight into Addis and of their new A350 flight to London. Not a word was said to passengers in exit rows on either flight. On the local flight a tray table had broken and blocked the emergency exit anyway – I pointed it out but the crew did nothing. On the A350 I saw something I’ve never seen before, cabin crew rushing around during the take off roll, buckling themselves in about a third or halfway along the runway. If the pilot had suddenly aborted, both they and their passengers might have been injured. The feel of ET these days is confused and undermanaged, doubtless because they are growing too fast. I won’t be using them again until tbe New Addis airport is opened.

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    SamWardill
    Participant

    Totally with you here. Do we really need to wait for the new airport before the Addis nightmare ends? The planes are great. Really comfortable. The network and schedule is really handy. The crew are very pleasant (if sometimes a bit dopey). The prices are fantastic and *A miles too!


    capetonianm
    Participant

    For what it’s worth, a friend of mine travelled LON-ADD-CPT earlier this weekend on ET (economy) and said it was excellent. He said he flew A350 on the first sector and B787 on the second – I’m not sure if that’s correct as he doesn’t know much about aircraft. He said service and food were excellent on both sectors, and comfort better than most of the other carriers he’s used.

    His only criticism was that apparently in transit, the passengers were put into a ‘holding area’ with no shops or refreshment facilities.

    I think he paid well under £600 for a OW, and I suppose that represents good value. That said, it’s not an airline I would seriously consider flying with.


    ZKSmith
    Participant

    Agree with the previous posts. If you arrive on a terminal gate, as opposed to a remote stand, ground staff will direct all transiting passengers into the gate areas, which is after security and therefore has no access to shops or lounges. Great if you have a very tight connection, I once had just 35 minutes connection time at ADD and made it to my next flight with about 33 minutes to spare. However, if you have a longer transit time it is a nightmare. Best bet is to ignore the ground staff, head towards immigration, and then proceed upstairs to the departures area of the terminal with full access to the shops and lounges (you’ll have to take this route anyway if you get bussed to the terminal, no chance of skipping security if you arrive at a remote stand).

    The lounges are a shambles, wi-fi super slow, half the power supplies don’t work, overcrowded, limited food. Security is a disaster as well, the economy ‘queue’ is an absolute scrum, while the premium checkpoint is too small and is made worse by staff trying to skip Ethiopian passengers ahead of those flying other airlines which just creates confusion and chaos.


    MarkCymru
    Participant

    I think you’re all being a bit harsh. I’ve been through ADD three times in the past few months and not had a problem with the premium security channel — five minutes’ wait maybe. The lounges are crowded and past their sell-by date but the food is good (and plentiful). My only issue was the lounge attendant waking up all the passengers in the quiet area every time a flight was called. I talked to her and she agreed not to do it if we all left our boarding cards visible.

    All in all, ET is excellent value and I’d rather transit shabby ADD than new, rude and inefficient LHR


    Swissdiver
    Participant

    Ethiopian invests heavily in new aircraft. Its A350 is great but it’s all for nothing if the overall travel experience is poor. Maybe ET is so successful it doesn’t care. Addis was never my favourite airport but it’s recently descended into utter chaos at night. Its Star Gold lounge is an embarrassment, by far the worst I’ve experienced anywhere. It would be better not to try to offer the service than to devalue the product. Doesn’t Star Alliance oblige its members to keep to minimum standards? ET’s Cloud 9 business lounge is hardly any better.

    As for security, staff seem overwhelmed by the sheer number of simultaneous long haul departures late at night. Hundreds of people cram security lanes, jostling, pushing, with no proper signposting. Few ground staff speak fluent understandable English which adds to the confusion. To organise it properly and put up signs wouldn’t cost a cent so why don’t they? It’s the same all the way to the gate. I was directed to a business class waiting zone “on the left” – the only thing on the left was a roped off area with a few wheelchairs, again no sign. Do management visit boarding areas? Or do they blame the confusion on the airport authority?

    This is a rather good description of the total chaos I experienced yesterday night. The “fast track” lane had a queue that was rather long. Things turned and even worse since some were shortcutting as no staff were present. And when one passed by, the crowd had to insist for them to do their job. Result, I queued for 30+ minutes to get half way when another staff came to pick some of us up and bring us to another security screening as our flight was departing.

    Knowing they have all these flights talking off around midnight, how come they can expect that one machin would suffice for all Cloud9 and Star Gold passengers? Absurd. And appalling.

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