Trip Report: Ethiopian Airlines A350 New Business Class + Addis Ababa Premium Lounge
Trip Report: Ethiopian Airlines A350 New Business Class + Addis Ababa Premium Lounge

Trip Report: Ethiopian Airlines A350 New Business Class + Addis Ababa Premium Lounge

After a behind-the-scenes tour of the Addis Ababa hub of Ethiopian Airlines, I am flying out of Addis in the morning to Cape Town onboard Ethiopian Airlines A350.


Addis Ababa Airport

The airport has a typical setup in Africa, only ticket holders are allowed to go inside the terminal. There is baggage screening outside the terminal at the entrance.

people walking in a terminal

Once inside, there is separate check-in counter for Business Class and Star Alliance Gold.

people standing in a line in a building
a sign from a ceiling
Ethiopian Airlines Business Class is called Cloud Nine

There are 2 peaks every day, one in the morning and one in the evening with many arrivals and departures from the world connecting at Addis Ababa.

people sitting in an airport terminal

After check-in and security, I proceed to the Ethiopian Airlines Business Class lounge.

Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine Lounge

a glass door with red carpet and red carpet

The lounge has a max capacity of 600 Business Class passengers. There are separate lounges for Star Alliance Gold and Silver passengers. In the morning peak, the lounge is very busy. These photos were taken after the peak wave of passengers. You can see the crowd during peak hour in my video here.

a group of people sitting in a restaurant
a bar with chairs and a tree in it
a room with a large white and black planter with flowers
a lounge area with chairs and tables
a room with many tables and chairs
a room with chairs and tables and windows
a man and woman in a room with a teapot and cups
At the entrance of the lounge, you can sample Ethiopian roasted coffee.
a buffet line with food on it
a bathroom with a glass shower door and sink
There are 4 shower rooms for males and 4 for females.

Overall, the lounge is decent, with plenty of food on offer. It is an improvement over the older lounge ET has. It has just one problem; during the peak departures, it is very crowded. The rear of the lounge near the buffet is the most crowded area. My recommendation is to find a seat somewhere near the front of the lounge.

ET847 Addis Ababa to Cape Town

The Cape Town flight is the first to depart from the hub as it is a long flight across the African continent with over 6 hours of flying time. It is operated by a 1-year-old A350-900 with Star Alliance livery.

a large white airplane at an airport
a close up of a plane

Unlike the B787 I flew from Vienna to Addis, the new A350 has a new Business Class in a 1-2-1 staggered layout. There is a total of 32 seats in Business Class.

The window seat has the best privacy. Row 1 seems have better leg room as the footwell box is bigger.

a seat in a plane
a man sitting in an airplane
a woman in a uniform standing in an airplane
a group of people sitting in an airplane with monitors
a man taking a selfie in a mirror
a hand holding a red bag
Amenity kit, menu were handed out by the crew.
a group of people sitting in an airplane
Economy Class is full. Ethiopian Airlines recently ordered A350-1000 as the traffic increases.

Addis Ababa Airport Hub

a white airplane parked in front of a building

There are 2 peaks every day, one in the morning and one in the evening with many arrivals and departures from the world connecting at Addis Ababa. 

a group of airplanes parked on a runway
airplanes on the runway
an airplane parked at an airport

We departed runway 07R and made a Southbound turn. The altitude at Addis Ababa is 7,625 ft so this restricted the A350 takeoff weight.

The pilot mentioned the maximum takeoff weight is 251 tons on the A350 instead of the 280 tons MTOW.

an airplane wing and engine of a city

Flight time to Cape Town is 6 hours from Addis Ababa, flying through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana before reaching South Africa. 

a map of africa with a route
two men in the cockpit of an airplane

Cabin service starts with just drinks. Instead of serving a meal immediately after takeoff, the meal is served 2 hours before landing. I presume this is because most passengers are from transit and ate breakfast in the lounge or on their previous flight.

a woman sitting in an airplane with a cart full of wine bottles
a man and woman in an airplane
a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice on a table

I much prefer the A350 1-2-1 business class with aisle access. However, I noticed while the window seat is private, the aisle seat can have a different experience due to the aisle traffic. The new Ethiopian Airlines Business Class seat resembles United Polaris Business Class.

a seat in an airplane
a plate of food with a small tin of food
Lunch starter: Roast chicken
a woman holding a bowl of bread
a woman standing in a plane with food on a table
Ethiopian Airlines serves traditional Ethiopian food as the second course on outbound flights from Addis in Business Class.
a man sitting in an airplane with food in bowls
a plate of food on a table
Ethiopian food is quite heavy in taste and spicy to me. They use fermented bread called injera as starch.
a plate of food on a table
For the main course, I chose the Jamaican chicken which was excellent.
a woman standing behind a tray of food and wine
Fruit, dessert, cheese and ports are served by trolley
a group of women wearing green uniforms
A photo of the lovely Ethiopian Airlines crew
a aerial view of a city and a body of water
Approaching Cape Town runway 19 with table mountain in the background.
a large white airplane at an airport

The landing was uneventful in Cape Town. The flight was on-time. Ethiopian Airlines came a long way since my first time flying them in 2012. Since then, their fleet has almost tripled and the soft product offering in Business Class has improved. The biggest advantage Ethiopian Airlines has over its rival is its vast and strong network in Africa. With its high rate of growth, the airline needs to maintain more consistency in product offering.

About my Ethiopian Flight


  • Improved dining service and quality of food.
  • Extensive network and good connectivity.
  • Good award seat availability when compared with other carriers.


  • The 2-2-2 Business Class seating on B787 is underwhelming. The older 777 fleet has 2-3-2 angle flat Business Class seats. New. delivered A350 has better 1-2-1 individual aisle access seating. The airline is focused on building the fleet and network but with inconsistent hard products.