Ethiopian Airlines recently took delivery of its ninth B787 Dreamliner aircraft. Its daily Heathrow route is served by the B787 but sometimes by the larger B777-200 during peak periods.

The Star Alliance member moved from Heathrow Terminal 3 to T2 last month. This flight check took place before that move.


I arrived at T3 at 1845 for flight ET701, departing at 2100. I passed through fast-track security fairly quickly and went to the No 1 Traveller lounge, which Ethiopian used until the move.

In T2, the airline’s business passengers can access any of the Star Alliance lounges, although the most convenient in terms of location will be United’s.


Premium passengers were given priority and boarding was via an airbridge. Stewards greeted me with a friendly welcome and took my jacket. I was offered champagne, a hot towel and publications including The Times and The Independent.


The business class cabin has four rows configured 2-2-2 (A-C, D-H, J-L). The angled lie-flat seats have a pitch of 65 inches and a 160-degree recline. The slope aside, they are comfortable for sleeping.

The controls are on the double armrest between seats and feature a memory function. The fold-out table is a decent size and sturdy enough for working on.

Film choices on the 15.4-inch in-flight entertainment screen are not as plentiful as on some carriers, but I found enough to choose from.

In-seat stowage is restricted to a small side pocket and a couple of cubby holes between the twin seatbacks.


Middle seats D-H have aisle access without disturbing your neighbour or being disturbed. What they don’t have are the views through the large, electrochromic smart glass windows.

The rear row of seats is nearest to the economy galley and washrooms, behind the curtain (the business class galley and washroom are at the front of the aircraft). Overhead lockers are located above seats A-C and J-L.


We took off on time. It took a fair while for the in-flight service to get going with pre-dinner drinks, so my meal wasn’t served until 2245.

The wine list included a good Barton and Guestier Châteauneuf du Pape and a Chablis, as well as a Boschendal Lanoy Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot.

Dinner started with salad, and smoked salmon and cod terrine. For my main I chose the verdi cannelloni with tomato and cheese sauce, which was pleasant. Also on offer was beef fillet in devilled sauce, and stir-fried chicken with egg-fried rice. Desserts included fruit, lemon tart, chocolate bread and butter pudding, and a nice cheese board with port.

The menu on the return flight also includes traditional Ethiopian dishes.

After dinner and a film, I slept right through until it was time to descend. The airline’s current policy is only to serve breakfast to those who are awake, leaving sleepers undisturbed. I, for one, was grateful for the extra hour’s sleep.


It took about half an hour to clear immigration, and bags arrived on the carousel reasonably soon after that.

You have to go through an X-ray bag check when leaving the airport, and it’s worth noting that when you do exit, you cannot re-enter the terminal without going through a security X-ray process.


The modern comfort, quiet and climate of the B787 and attentive service with decent seating, sustenance and amenities made this journey as pleasant as one could hope for on an eight-hour flight.

A few details, such as the angled lie-flat bed, mean it’s not quite up there with the world’s market leaders – but it’s pretty good nonetheless.


  • FLIGHT TIME 8 hours
  • AIRCRAFT TYPE B787-800
  • SEAT PITCH 65in/165.1cm
  • SEAT WIDTH 22.9in/58.2cm
  • SEAT RECLINE 160 degrees
  • PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight between London and Addis Ababa in October ranged between £1,947 and £2,731 depending on flexibility.

Paul Revel