Browsing Tag: NYCAviation

A Boeing 777-200LR takes off from Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation

A Boeing 777-200LR takes off from Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, who works for the site, had the opportunity to fly on an Ethiopian Airlines business class flight on a Boeing 777 and 767. I thought the story was great and am able to share it with my readers. Here is his story in his own words:

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA: This is the second of a three part series on the airline, with this segment focusing on their business class service named Cloud Nine.  NYCAviation (NYCA) had the opportunity to review this service on two international flights: Washington Dulles to Addis Ababa and Addis Ababa to Johannesburg.  Ethiopian provided the flights to NYCA at no charge, flying on both legs in September 2011.

Part I  Addis to DC

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 501 Service to Addis Ababa from Washington Dulles
Boeing 777’200LR ET’ANR
Dep: 1201/EDT Arr: 0738/EAT
Seat 03H / Cloud Nine Business Class

Stepping onto the curb in a rainy Washington DC, I made my way to the Ethiopian Airlines (ETH) counter, which is tucked in the back off to one side. Check’in was short and sweetabout 15 minutes start to finish. I took advantage of ETH’s two’checked’bags policy and left one bag in their care. At the ticket counter I had been assigned seat 20B, but at the gate I was upgraded to seat 03H in Cloud Nine.

Boarding was a breeze. Cloud Nine passengers, members of ShebaMiles and other preferred’status folks boarded first. I was the third person to walk onto the large, new Boeing 777’200LR (ET’ANR). Ethiopian’s business class on the B772 (the airline has no first class) is configured as 2’3’2, with 03H in the middle section on the aisle. As the passengers settled in before we departed on this 12+’hour flight, drinks ranging from juice to liquor and copies of Le Monde and The Washington Post were offered.

Cloud Nine Seat on the 777

Cloud Nine Seat on the 777. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation.

Dulles was unusually slow that day, which allowed a nearly on’time departure (about 10 minutes late) from Runway 33. A Saudi Arabian Airbus A340’300 and the ever’elusive Boeing 747SP on the remote ramp enhanced the view as the 777’s wonderfully massive GE’90 engines spooled up. We climbed out over the Washington Metro area and headed northeast.

Following an hour long power nap just after departure, I awoke to the sounds of drinks being served. A selection of juice, soda and top’shelf liquor was offered along with salted airplane shaped crackers. Lunch service followed shortly thereafter.

The hors d’oeuvres were sweet chili bay scallops, citrus’cured smoked salmon and sliced bresaola (air’dried beef) served with salad and warm bread and butter. The beef was spicy and good. I don’t eat fish or seafood and so passed up the other choices, but they looked excellent. A salad, also provided, was OK.

Little airplane crackers!

Little airplane crackers! Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation.

We were asked to choose an entre: beef, chicken, fish or vegetarian. I opted for the seasoned chicken breast with vegetables in teriyaki sauce and rice with asparagus. The meal was good and satisfyingthe chicken was tender and moist, the vegetables crisp and warm. It came with more bread and butter. After the meal, dessert ’ a slice of coconut cheesecake for me. Service was quick and friendly (perhaps too quick: While no one rushed me through a course, I couldn’t help but feel a bit hurried), and capped off by the traditional coffee service.

Four hours in the sun was already setting. While much of the cabin settled in for the night, I went for the entertainment system. A wide selection of TV and movies in multiple languages are available along with games, flight tracking maps and other options. The touch screen is large; 15.4 inches wide. With the screen nestled into the seat back in front of you it requires a stretch to reach, but the tethered remote takes care of that. The remote itself is a bit less intuitive than I would’ve liked, and at times it was easier to use the touch screen than fiddle with it. The airline provided a bagged set of their own headphones, which got the job done. During the flight I watched a few movies, some TV, and played BlackJack (a shame that it wasn’t with real money).

Tasty lunch service on the Ethiopian flight.

Tasty lunch service on the Ethiopian flight. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation.

Sleep came shortly thereafter and I found myself able to manage about five hours of solid rest. Utilizing a shell based design the Cloud Nine seats are considered angled lie’flat and have a respectable 65 inches of pitch: they even has a massage function to help loosen up the muscles. The other details are pretty standard: a large, fold’out tray tucked into the side of the armrest, adjustable reading light, foot rest and a pillow & blanket set. The only downsides were lack of power outlets and the seat not being terribly private: an adjustable divider between the seats would have been welcome. Ethiopian’s one carry’on policy kept overhead space easily available.

While sleep was welcome and need, unfortunately I slept through the second meal service. According to my menu I missed out on a selection of culinary delights ranging from mini beef meatballs and chicken satay to mini pizza and jalapeno poppers. I trust that they matched the positive experience of the first meal service.

With two’and’a’half hours remaining the final meal service began: breakfast. Again the food was enjoyable and plentiful. There were a few options; I chose the cheese omelet with hash browns, chicken sausage and sauted mushroom with a grilled tomato ’ complimented by a fresh fruit salad and yogurt.

Deboarding in Addis Ababa

Deboarding in Addis Ababa. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation.

As the flight neared arrival a stop to the lavatory to freshen up was in order. A packet of amenities, located in the seat, contained toothpaste and brush, comb, mouthwash, sleeping mask, and a handful of other items. Nothing to write home about, but after a long flight the ability to brush your teeth and comb your hair in the lav is welcome.

We landed early into Bole International Airport at 0738 local time. Taxi was fast and we quickly pulled up to a remote gate complete with air’stairs. Deboarding was quick and efficient as Cloud Nine was let out first, with a minibus exclusively for business class greeting us at the bottom of the steps. Once on the mini’bus we were whisked away to the terminal, which is a bit of a challenge to navigate the first time. Having a very short connection I was directed by staff up an empty boarding gate to get to the arrivals level. The terminal was very busy, but staff were helpful in directing me to my already boarding connection, where another adventure was about to begin.

Part II  Addis to Jo’Burg

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 809
Service to Johannesburg from Addis Ababa
Boeing 767’300ER ET’AMQ Dep: 0910/EAT Arr: 1315/SAST
Seat 01D / Cloud Nine

[This flight picks up where the previous flight, Ethiopian 501 from Washington Dulles, leaves off.]

Having arrived safely at Addis’ Bole International, I quickly made my way toward my next flight. By the time I stepped into Terminal Two my connecting flight was already boarding. Lacking a jet bridge, a Cloud Nine dedicated mini’bus drove us out to the remote gates and we met up with our Boeing 767’300ER (ET’AMQ). A quick jaunt up the airstairs (these big jets always sit higher off the ground than I think they do), and I find myself seated in 01D.

Boarding onto the Boeing 767-300ER to Jo'Burg

Boarding onto the Boeing 767-300ER to Jo'Burg. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation.

Much like on the prior flight, the forward cabin staff were up and about serving drinks as passengers settled in for the five or so hour flight. We departed about 20 minutes late with a powerful and aggressive climb out from Bole (the airplane was probably only two’thirds full). The flight path had us tracking over a number of exotic locations through the African interior that, thanks to an aisle seat were largely unseen.   About forty minutes into the flight a full drink service was offered along with little airplane shaped crackers, which I complemented with a delightful glass of Irish Cream.

Lunch began very quickly thereafter, and like the prior flight, the food matched expectations for business class. The hors d’oeuvre consisted of smoked salmon garnished with asparagus tips and sun dried tomato, turkey slices with red pepperoni and corn on the cob, and lamb terrine garnished with cherry tomato and dried prune. These were supplemented with a seasonal salad with fresh greens and an olive oil based vinaigrette along with bread and butter.

Ethiopian National Dish: Injera with Wot

Ethiopian National Dish: Injera with Wot. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation.

We were next served a course featuring the Ethiopian National Dishes. Each course came with a staple of Ethiopian meals known as injera. It is akin to flat bread though with a spongy texture and unusual taste. Atop the roll of injera one had the option of mixing and matching sampler sized portions of various stews (Wot) (though I would liken the consistency more to curry than stew). I chose to go with Doro Wot (spicy stew), Ataklet Wot (mixed vege), and Miser Wot (lentil’based). They were all quite enjoyable and doled out in such large portions that I actually thought this course was the main entree. It was not though, and the actual entree was a choice between beef, chicken, fish, and vegetable. I went with the beef in cumin sauce with basmati rice and sauted carrots along with an Ethiopian beer called St. George. The meal was enjoyable enough but I was already quite full from the previous two courses, and consequently I ended up not finishing it.

A nap was in order after the very filling meal service. Despite its age and appearance, the seat was quite comfortable. It reclines to a respectable 59 inches of pitch, which was enough to lend me a solid one hour nap. I didn’t have anyone seated next to me in the 2’2’2 configured cabin, so privacy wasn’t really an issue’“but had there been someone next to me I can’t say I would’ve been entirely comfortable taking a nap. The seat also features the standard tray in the armrest, audio jack, and is provided with a pillow and blanket. There was ample leg room. It may not be fancy, but it gets the job done. With an hour and a half remaining I caught some of the programming on the projector screen in front of me. The audio, provided by Ethiopian headphones, functioned just fine. The very large screen being only a few feet in front of me became a bit overwhelming to watch, but that was more a matter of location of my seat’“one row back would’ve made a big difference.

Cloud Nine Seat on ET-AMQ 767

Cloud Nine Seat on ET-AMQ 767. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation.

A care kit containing basic items like comb, toothpaste & brush was provided toward the end of the flight. It was nice to clean up a bit before landing and feel slightly more refreshed and ready for the day ’“ especially after you’ve been travelling for nearly 35 hours.

Final approach into OR Tambo was a bit rough, but that just made it fun. We touched down on time at 1315. Taxi was fairly quick and we pulled up to a gate flanked by a handful of Boeing 777s. Cloud Nine passengers deplaned first, allowing a quick and easy beeline to customs. With no competition in the customs line the entry process lasted a grand total of ten minutes. Bags, including mine, arrived about fifteen minutes later.

Part III  The Bottom Line

We will take up Flight 809, service to Johannesburg, first.  This one is a bit hard to judge.  Looking at the schedules, the flight is operated by a mixture of aircraft; chiefly the Boeing 767-300ER (B767) and Boeing 757-200 (B757), though the carrier’s 737-700s are capable of performing the route as well.  Like many airlines, cabin layouts and features vary within an individual type and Ethiopian is no exception. Consequently, experiences can differ from day to day depending on the plane.  As a result, it seems worthwhile to distinguish and judge product and service separately.

In terms of product, flight 809 left a bit to be desired.  This is almost entirely a result of the antiquated entertainment system.  Most travelers on Ethiopian B767s will have a personal TV with a well stocked range of on-demand entertainment, but a handful will receive the retro-treatment.  Charmingly nostalgic though it is for an aviation fan, most customers would likely feel it falls short of a competitive business class product on the international scene.  On a five hour flight this is not really the end of the world, but many are used to having personalized entertainment options on these trans’continental flights.  The seat appeared to be a bit dated as far as competing products go but was ultimately very comfortable with generous seat pitch.

Equally as important as product is service.  In this respect, Ethiopian excelled on the flight.  The food was good and plentiful, and those not familiar with Ethiopian fare will have an opportunity to sample something new and exciting.  The cabin crew was professional and attentive.

Ethiopian 777-200LR ET-ANN taken at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Ethiopian 777-200LR ET-ANN taken at Boeing Field in Seattle. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation.

Taking up Flight 501, Ethiopian Airlines service to Washington Dulles is not new, but it certainly feels as though it is. The introduction of the new B777’200LRs to replace the previously utilized B767’300ERs is a serious upgrade to the route on many levels, the least of which is the inbound leg becoming a true non’stop.  Boeing 777’based Cloud Nine class represents a big step up for Ethiopian and a presents a true competitive product on the international market, particularly for an African based carrier. The fresh cabin and modern product does not disappoint.  Customers flying this route (or the outbound Flight 500) will find friendly and fast on board service, enjoyable food, a good seat, and quality on-demand entertainment options.

Overall in terms of service, the verdict on Cloud Nine is pretty easy: good.  Cabin crews on both flights were attentive, friendly, and professional.  Food was plentiful, warm, and good quality.  The only inconsistency was not having served the Ethiopian National dishes on flight 501, though the airline points out that serving the meals require traditional preparation, cooking, and serving procedures which require time and care.

It is reasonable to say, however, that business class can be a bit varied in terms of product.  On the one hand the B767 cabin on Flight 809 appeared to represent a business class of days gone by.  On the other, the B777 cabin on Flight 501 represented a modernized, competitive product of today.  The airline has told NYCA that they intend to upgrade seven Cloud Nine cabins aboard the B767, a welcome step toward ironing out the inconsistent product in their B767 fleet.   Looking to the very near future, the airline is anticipating delivery of their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the summer of 2012.  No doubt the new cabin aboard their Dreamliners will continue to build upon the successful choices made on their B777-type business cabins.

When the upgrades and fresh aircraft meet up with the already solid in-flight service, the future is even brighter for Cloud Nine.  If a trip to Addis or elsewhere in Africa is in your future, flying aboard Ethiopian Airline Cloud Nine is a choice that will serve you well, both now and into the future.

Last year, flying to Oshkosh AirAdventure with Southwest Airlines was on my list of my Top 5 experiences of 2010. Unfortunately I was not able to make the trip this year, but was and documented his adventure. Here is their story:

The Southwest Boeing 737 sits at OshKosh 2011.

The Southwest Boeing 737 sits at OshKosh 2011.

39,000ft over the West: For some reason, I doubt that most of the folks reading this post will be anything but familiar with the week-long aviation festival from heaven known as Oshkosh. I’d be willing to bet, too, that a number of folks are not just familiar with but are seasoned veterans of the show, able to count off the years or even decades they’ve made the pilgrimage to Wisconsin. Being a pretty big aviation fan myself, I have for years dreamed of making the pilgrimage and attending my first AirVenture, as the show is officially called. For various reasons I’ve never been able to make it; most of the excuses having something to do with the lack of money and the rest with lack of time. But this year; this year, opportunity came a knockin’.

A very yellow DC-3 at Oshkosh.

A very yellow DC-3 at Oshkosh.

That knock came about a two weeks ago, when, due to a strange series of events, I ended up filling in for AirlineReporter for Southwest’s second annual sponsorship of ’œSuper Saturday’. In addition to other activities through the day, the airline sends one of their trademark 737-700 aircraft up from Chicago for the day bringing employees, contest winners, and a few media along for the ride.

After arriving to Chicago in the late afternoon and getting settled into my hotel, I took the opportunity to head downtown to the Loop. Taking in the sights of Chicago was fun, and I had planned to trek on foot from the Roosevelt area (old Meigs Field), up to nearly the Gold Coast. I quickly realized this was far too ambitious, and cut it short after coming across a free show put on in Millennium Park. Arriving back at the hotel pretty late I charged my batteries, cleared my cards, and packed my camera bag for the coming day.

EAA (which stands for Experimental Aircraft Association) hosts AirVenture.

EAA (which stands for Experimental Aircraft Association) hosts AirVenture.

Arriving back at Midway for the crisp hour of 6am, I checked in, got my ticket ’“ which listed our destination, oddly, as Vegas, and proceeded to the gate. Bright yellow Southwest shirts flooded the boarding area, and once on board, reflected a soft golden yellow hue throughout the plane. The flight departed on time and made a nice pass over downtown Chicago (of course I picked the wrong side to sit on), then trekked due north-ish.

Aircraft lined up at Oshkosh.

A line of Trojans sits on the hot ramp, baking in the sun.

Ferry flights (having no revenue passengers) are always fun for a few reasons: first, there’s hardly anyone on the plane. Second, nearly everyone on it actually wants to be there. Third, you’re flying a route that usually doesn’t normally exist, which for a commercial airline nerd is just, well, awesome. The mood was good and the flight was short and smooth. Before we knew it, the farms of the Wisconsin country-side were taking up more and more of the window and then, in the distance, a runway.

It feels like you can almost reach out and touch the airplanes.

It feels like you can almost reach out and touch the airplanes.

A gentle landing and quick taxi trip later we all deplaned, donned our wristbands, and headed out to see the show. If you’ve never been there before it can be described as an enormous aviation wonderland, filled with more than you could ever possibly imagine. Aircraft ranged from Wright Replica’s to the newest in electric planes; TriMotor’s to a 737; B29 to F/A-18s; Citations to the HondaJet. The flight line stretched for what felt like forever. It took nearly 20 minutes at a brisk pace to walk from the ultralights on one end to Warbird Alley on the other. I thought I knew my planes, but I regrettably had to admit I saw far too many things that I could not positively ID.

View from the cockpit.

A view of the crowd and AirVenture from the flight deck of the B29 named FIFI.

And then there was the flying, oh yes, the flying. I could not believe the volume and frequency of traffic. I had heard about the legendary split runway action, and was thrilled to finally see it happening in front of me. Runway 27 was constantly alive with activity; there was never a dull a moment. 18 functioned as the main runway and was generally kept intact while 27 often bounced between single and split. P-51’s with their iconic sounding Merlin’s buzzed the crowd while T-6s/ SNJs flew formations out into the North Central skies. L-39’s and T-45 Goshawks landed in between huge flying boats and tiny Bonanza’s. And this wasn’t even the air show yet.

And there were the crowds. Being mainly a photographer, crowds are both one of my favorite and least favorite parts of every airshow I will ever go to. They are my least favorite because they prevent me from easily accessing the porta-potty or acquiring another burger in less than two hours time, but much more so because they get in the way of my static shots (can I hear an ’œamen’ photogs?). Nothing screams “ruined” more than someone’s head cutting off a nose cone, blocking an intake, or obscuring the entire right third of the photo. But at the same time, the crowds offer tons of unsuspecting targets to bring the story together.

US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet in digi-cam livery.

US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet in digi-cam livery.

Let’s be honest, who hasn’t stood in line to get on board something cool, or spent time talking with a crew member? I did it multiple times throughout the day, and getting a chance to see and capture individuals interacting and experience aviation is sometimes better than watching the show itself. Speaking of getting on board, I checked out the B29 FIFI, a DHS Dash-8 (super, super cool interior plus the crew’s titles were ’œAir Interdiction Agent’ ’“ how bad ass sounding is that??), Super Stallion, Piaggio Avanti-180, A-26 Invader, TriMotor, Breezi, P51D, and more. Some of the lines, particularly for the B29 and our Southwest 737, stretched quite long.

AirVenture is more than just seeing airplanes on the ground -- there are airshows through out the whole event.

AirVenture is more than just seeing airplanes on the ground -- there are airshows through out the whole event.

The air show itself was a bit of a mixed bag. A Navy Heritage flight consisting of the only remaining HellDiver combined with one of the retro CoNA F/A 18’s flew a moving demo to open it up. By and large the rest of the show consisted of Warbirds. Everything from T6/SNJ/Harvards to P51’s, B25 Mitchell to Trojans, a Huey to the venerable C47 took the skies over the course of two hours. The show appeared to be cut short, however, by weather moving in. A strong wind storm wreaked havoc during a demo by Sean Tucker, eventually forcing the airport to close. For the folks on the Southwest ferry flight like myself it was just as well, as we had to be back to the plane for departure right around the time the storm hit anyways.

Stuff is going on.

A crew member for a static talks with the crowd.

Boarding was smooth and straightforward, and once the field reopened we were towed up to the taxiway, helped along by folks waving us off from the crowd. The flight back to Chicago was again short and sweet, clocking just shy of half an hour. I was lucky enough to get a very nice window seat, with a view to die for.

The rest of the day was spent working up photos (over 1,000 of them) and getting some much needed sleep. The flight back to my home city on Southwest 762 the next day gave me some time to think over the show, and I came to the following conclusions:

First, it’s huge. Yeah, I know, this one is obvious, but it deserves saying it again. There was just no way I, or anyone, could have seen it all in one day: not even close. The show was so large, the planes so numerous, the talks so intriguing ’“ one can’t do it all. I’ve heard from folks who go for the week who can’t even get around to see it all.

Unknown shot.

The ferry flight turns onto the active runway at Chicago's Midway.

Second, and much more importantly, it’s about airplanes, yes, but much more-so it is about community. News reports since the show have quoted that as many as twelve thousand aircraft visited the show over week and hundreds of thousands flooded the grounds over the week. Let’s be honest, maybe a few hundred, at most, of that 12,000 actually flew as a part of the official airshow; the rest were folks who were there to bask in the community that is aviation. At the end of the day, airplanes are really about people: the people who build them, the people who fly them, and the people who admire them. Friendships are made and strengthened, stories are shared, and new stories are made to tell at future AirVentures.

In the spirit of full & clear disclosure NYCAviation/AirlineReporter was offered and accepted round-trip tickets from Seattle to Chicago Midway and a two night accommodation at the Chicago Midway Marriot. We thank Southwest for the offer and their hospitality.

This story was a joint venture between NYCAviation and AirlineReporter.

All photos by David Lilienthal / – Click any for larger version

Condor Airlines, a low-frills airline based in Germany, commenced their first Seattle (SEA) to Frankfurt (FRA) flight yesterday using a Boeing 767-300ER (D-ABUB). The first flight, arrived about 4:00pm PST and was greeted by a water canon salute and a celebration at the South Terminal.

The new flight will commence twice per week and offer three classes of service: 18 seats in Comfort Class, 35 seats in Premium Economy (with 6 inches additional legroom) and 217 in economy. Condor will provide competition for Lufthansa who currently flies daily between Seattle and Frankfurt.

Seattle becomes Condor’s fifth destination in the US after Anchorage, Fairbanks, Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas. Seattle has seen 6.7% increase in international traffic this year compared to 2010 and expects to see 23% more seats this summer to Europe versus last. Seattle currently operates flights to 19 foreign destinations that are served by 11 airlines.

’œThis new airline service will generate local jobs, provide more choices for travelers from Seattle to Europe, and provides capacity for air cargo between Seattle and Europe,’ said Mike Ehl, Director of Operations at Seattle Tacoma International Airport. ’œWe welcome Condor Airlines as part of our growth in international traffic.’

Condor Airline’s is Germany’s second largest airline and provides flights from Germany to mostly leisure destinations. The airline operates a fleet of 34 aircraft including the Boeing 757-300, Boeing 767-300ER and Airbus A320.

This story was a joint effort between and

Click any image above for larger version

All Nippon Airways (ANA) announced a special livery that supports the recovery effort in Japan. Last week, one of their Boeing 767-300ERs (JA611A) showed off the special “Forward together as one, Japan” livery.

On May 2nd, ANA displayed a Boeing 777-300ER (JA786A) with the relief-related message at New York’s John F Kennedy Airport (JFK) for photographers and invited media.

“ANA wishes not only to support those who have been affected by the earthquake, but also move forward together with them to rebuild the region,” ANA spokes person told Airline Reporter. “For our global passengers, ANA would like to reassure our commitment to safety and top quality services through this message as well.”

As of March 13th, all ANA international flights have been operating on their normal schedule. Since April 13th, ANA has been back to flying to all the domestic airports it regularly serves as well as additional relief flights to Senai and Yamagata.

ANA is not sure how long the special livery will fly on the aircraft, but it will be at least through the month of May. NYCAviation has all 13 photos taken by Manny Gonzalez.

This story was a joint effort between and