The Ethiopian Airlines regional Business Class was a positive surprise to me. While the board product in the Boeing 737 isn’t the most amazing, the experience is still quite good overall. Read why in our extensive airline review!
On my flight from Oslo via Addis Ababa to the Seychelles, I had the chance to try the Ethiopian Airlines regional Business Class on the way from Addis to the dream island (be sure to also check out our review of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Business Class). The flight with a length of approximately three hours was quite comfortable and an all around decent experience.
The boarding process in Addis is a little odd though. As a Business Class passenger you don’t go to the normal boarding gate, but a special zone for premium passengers. Here, you’re called out as soon as your flight is ready for boarding and then you’re brought to the plane by a separate premium bus.
This all sounds comfortable and nice. Yet, our flight ended up being like an hour late, but boarding on the normal gate was even closed before we were given any information. That made us feel like missing our flight even though everything worked out in the end. Just odd.
Both my flights, from Addis to the Seychelles and back, were operated by a Boeing 737-800 with four rows of Business Class in a 2-2 configuration.
The rest of the plane is equipped with the typical 3-3 seating arrangement. Business Class comes with huge recliner seats made out of cloth.
The Ethiopian seats have quite a strong color with all Business Class seats being strongly red, while Economy Class seats are green. The massive seats in Business feel very comfortable and have a good padding despite their obvious age.
All seats come with an adjustable headrest and quite some recline, making it possible to sleep or doze nicely despite the lack of a fully flat seat.
Seats can be manually adjusted by pushing buttons in the armrest, but you also have to press a bit to make something happen.
You may also extend a legrest. All seats in the Ethiopian Arilines regional Business Class come with two large armrests (one being part of the middle console), a large extendable table as well as a large seat pocket. There’s some storage in the middle console, but you won’t find any plugs or USB chargers due to the age of the product. The seat pitch is great though.
At boarding, a decent pillow and blanket were already waiting at the seat.
Even though this board product isn’t on the modern side, I found it to be comfortable enough and great for a flight of just three hours.
An area where Ethiopian Airlines is shining is the catering. It might sound odd, but I hardly had such a great dining experience on a flight on that length despite flying with several five star airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. Before departure, we were offered a drink of our choice, once even with a little snack.
After departure, there was yet another drink of choice with more crackers (a local one, which tasted amazing).
Then, lunch / dinner were served. To my surprise, there was even a menu with the options available on both flights, which was something I wouldn’t have expected on a regional flight.
Before the service started, the tables were set with a tablecloth, silverware, butter, a bread plate and more. As a starter on my first flight, I was served smoked salmon with dill yogurt, which didn’t look that amazing, but tasted good enough.
As a main, I went with a selection from the Ethiopian menu, which is exclusively catered for flights departing in Addis. A cart with a couple of local dishes and local bread is rolled through the galley. Let me sum this up in one word: amazing. The local flavors were stunning, especially as everything tasted really good even though we were in an airplane.
To make things totally crazy, we were even offered one of the other mains afterwards, which we neglected. The cheese plate was something I had to try though.
While the cheese was very good, the selection of the three different desserts was just alright.
The catering on the return flight was quite similar with a decent starter and a creative side salad.
This was followed by the chicken (me) and the pasta (my girlfriend), both alright.
After that, there was another amazing cheese plate.
All in all, an incredibly good catering for regional Business Class. Especially the local options and the sheer amount of food and options is just incredible. The drink menu, including several alcoholic options like wines, beers, champagne or spirits, is very good, too.
The age of the product mainly shows in the area of entertainment. In this regard, there’s hardly anything offered. Ethiopian offers a board magazine and you may also listen to music with a couple of channels available. Headphones are distributed, too.
They are not great, but not bad either. However, there are neither personal entertainment screens nor portable devices given to passengers in Business Class. WiFi isn’t offered either.
Despite the lack of entertainment options and the age of the product, I really enjoyed my flight with Ethiopian Airlines. The cabin isn’t particularly stylish, but the seats are very comfortable and there’s an amazing seat pitch. Especially for shorter flights, the seats are totally fine. The catering is incredibly good with lots of options available, a high quality and a great local touch. Service was friendly and proactive on both flights, too. All in all, I’d definitely recommend the Ethiopian Airlines regional Business Class, which was a joy to fly.