Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class is a revelation, and wonderful experience when journeying from the United States to Africa. The airlines, which was one of the very first to reinstate flights to the continent of Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic, has found an important place and growth opportunity through routes to this often underserved continent. I was a guest aboard their flight from Washington, D.C. Dulles International Airport to Addis Ababa and onward to Johannesburg – flying on their Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Cloud 9 Business Class. And, what an experience it was in terms of safety, comfort and overall timing in the most direct route offered to the area. I was thrilled to experience the product and applaud the airline’s vision for bringing passengers to the fastest growing continent on the planet.
Ethiopian Airlines has branded itself as “The New Spirit of Africa” and the name is fitting. I boarded without issue at Dulles Airport, presenting my negative COVID-19 PCR test to allow check-in as well as a contact tracing form required by the South African government, my final destination. I found myself delighted in Cloud 9 with a lie-flat seat, seat dividers, modern television and entertainment options, champagne welcome and Ethiopian Airlines sanitization kit at my seat. I took my shoes off, grabbed a glass of champagne and was warmly greeted by the flight crew – who are beautifully dressed in traditional Ethiopian clothing. Soon, I was off for the 13 hour and 45 minute flight to Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian Airlines flight direct from Dulles International Airport to Ethiopia, connecting passengers to Northern, Central and Southern Africa easily. They also fly further afield to destinations like The Seychelles, Bangkok and other parts of Asia and South America. I took off easily and the in-flight service commenced. Usually, pre-COVID-19, Ethiopian Airlines offers a full traditional Ethiopian meal service (which is amazing) as well as Western options. But, due to the pandemic, it has been changed for the time being to Western only with seals for safety. My meal was very nice with an appetizer, entree and dessert – all delightful paired with a glass of red wine from Ethiopia’s Rift Valley. I watched one movie for roughly two hours and then put my seat into flat-bed mode and drifted off as the cabin lights were dimmed.
As day broke, I woke with about an hour left to go of the flight. The smell of freshly-brewed Ethiopian coffee filled the air and I rose for a light breakfast before landing. We touched down around 7:30 am which left me about 45 minutes to make my connection to Johannesburg. Normally, this might worry some travelers as not being enough time to connect but the transfer couldn’t have gone easier. I literally exited the aircraft and turned left to find my next flight just two gates away. Bolé International Airport in Addis Ababa is very easy to navigate and everything is clearly marked. I ran-in to the Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge by my gate for a quick cup of coffee and then boarded for my six-hour flight to South Africa.
The experience on my connection was similar and even more delightful as the seats were brand new and had seemingly never been flown-in. What luck. I watched another film and dosed-off for the remaining four hours before landing in Johannesburg. What I love about Ethiopian Airlines is that it’s easy and just makes sense. There aren’t crazy hoops to jump through, transfers are a breeze and the in-flight experience enjoyable. I truly loved Cloud 9 and would choose it over and over again when flying to Africa. In fact, I can’t wait to experience Ethiopia again as it’s been a while since I last spent time in that beautiful country.
Ethiopian Airlines has reinstated routes throughout Africa and the world, and are following all necessary guidelines. From the United States, you can fly seamlessly from New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago – with more cities likely being added in the future.