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Ethiopian Air - Horrible

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My wife and I flew Ethiopian Airlines as indicated below:

1 Nov 13, EA 501, Washington DC to Addis Ababa on “Dreamliner.”
29 Nov 13, EA 815, Addis Ababa to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
10 Dec 13, EA 814, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania to Addis Ababa
10 Dec 13, EA 500, Addis Ababa to Washington, DC on “Dreamliner”

All travel in Economy.

Absolutely the WORST flying experience that my wife and I have had in over 50 years of international flying. Ethiopian Airlines is a third world airline for third world passengers that tries to pass as a modern airline. It is something like a third world dictator all dressed up in a fancy uniform … sound and fury signifying nothing and with no regard for the people that should be served.

The flight to Addis was a hellish, nerve racking, almost fifteen hours, of non-stop shrieking children. The vast majority of the passengers were of Ethiopian origin, many with little children. Parents made little if any effort to control or quiet their children. Despite repeated complaints to flight staff to intervene they were non responsive and did nothing. Repeated requests to be relocated meet with similar indifference and non-responsiveness. The entire flight staff was unsmiling and removed from any semblance of customer support. The Dreamliner was more of a Nightmare. The cabin was hot … we were told that the Ethiopians liked it that way. The power ports for computers did not work despite being assured by an email from Ethiopian Airlines that power would be available. In fact, the inflight entertainment system did not work at the start of the flight. Food was barely edible. Once in Bole Airport it took one and one half hours for the bags to be off loaded at the terminal and there were no airline representatives available to provide any information.

The flight to Kilimanjaro followed a similar pattern. Ethiopian Airlines provided misinformation sending us to the wrong departure terminal. We had to go through security twice and had to rush to another terminal to catch our flight. The conditions at Bole Airport were totally chaotic with no support personnel from Ethiopian Airline present to provide information. Once again an aircraft full of screaming unruly children not controlled by parents and without any interference on the part of the we can care less flight crew. Fortunately, a short flight into the more civilized environment of Tanzania.

The flight back to Addis Ababa was another disaster. There were passengers awaiting the flight that was booked for the previous day on Ethiopian Airlines. They arrived at the terminal and waited and waited until they were finally told that the flight had been cancelled. Although Ethiopian Airlines knew of the cancellation before their arrival at the terminal they were not told and were checked in as if there was going to be a flight. No explanation provided. They had to “fight” with Ethiopian Airlines to get hotel vouchers in Addis and the airline refused to pay for or help with the temporary visas they would need since they were required to stay over night in Addis before catching their connecting flights to Europe. All swore never to fly Ethiopian Airlines again. The flight we were booked on arrived about an hour late and during this entire time no Ethiopian Airline employee was available to provide any information … for all we knew another cancelled flight. Additionally, our previously confirmed seats were not available on check in despite having a long-standing confirmed reservation. We arrived late in Addis and had to rush to make our connecting flight to Washington DC. Again, no help and were put on the wrong bus … it took us to the wrong terminal. Similar situation with screaming children that put your nerves on end.

The Dreamliner flight back to Washington DC was again a Nightmare experience.
It was even fuller with screaming, shrieking, uncontrolled children. There were a significant number of lap children (imagine holding a child quietly in your lap for fifteen hours). The crew was even surlier, more incommunicative and more negative than on the initial flight. They refused to do anything about the “children situation”, not even talk to the parents. The children roamed the isles some with their rear ends bare. Impossible to sleep, relax do anything but being subject to shrill, continuous crying and shrieking’s. Although other seats were available all requests to be moved were refused. The Captain (and his flight staff) refused to talk to us. When asked for real milk to have with coffee we were refused, although milk was available. When asked for an extra package of cheese, because the food was too spicy to eat, the response was only one piece to each customer – even though they had a draw full of extra cheese.

Getting off the aircraft in Washington DC was like being released from captivity.

The blatant non-responsiveness of Ethiopian Airline personnel was all too typical of service contacts that we had during our month’s stay in country. It was all about them and not the customer … they have no concept of customer service. Ethiopian Airline, based on our experience, is geared up to support diaspora Ethiopians and applies Ethiopian values to international flights. As we departed the aircraft a staff member commented “unruly passengers.” To them, if you complain and do not meekly accept substandard service you are “unruly.”

Unfortunately, as long as this attitude prevails the country is doomed to remain one of the poorest in the world. Avoid Ethiopian Airlines, there are options … take them.

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