Ethiopian Airlines: Flying on the new spirit of Africa

Ethiopian Airlines is no longer the baby brother of the ‘big name’ airlines. Over the last few years, it’s gained a reputation for having an extensive network, good pricing, and great service.

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2min read

Published 11 April 2024

Flight Centre Author

Guest Blogger


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Ethiopian Airlines is no longer the baby brother of the ‘big name’ airlines. Over the last few years, it’s gained a reputation for having an extensive network, good pricing, and great service.




If you’re looking to take to the sky from the African continent, you’d be hard-pressed to find an airline with more options available.

Born in 1945, this carrier has grown leaps and bounds, connecting African cities with the rest of the world. If you're travelling from South Africa and looking for an airline that ticks all the boxes—reliability, vast destinations, and top-notch service—Ethiopian Airlines is your go-to. It's all about making your journey smooth and enjoyable, whether you're jetting off on business (and yes, in business class too) or exploring new horizons for leisure nearer to the back of the plane.

So, why would you want to book them for your next trip?

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Safe, Reliable, and On Time

Opting for Ethiopian Airlines comes with its perks. First up, let’s look at the most important thing; safety and reliability. After all, cheap flights are only worthwhile if they get you to your destination happily and on time.

Luckily, Ethiopian Airlines’ safety and reliability records are stellar, giving you that all-important peace of mind. They’ve achieved a 91% on-time performance for all global flight departures over a three-month period, which puts them comfortable above the industry average of around 85%.

Additionally, Ethiopian Airlines is a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and complies with the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), which is a benchmark for global safety management in airlines – it’s considered one of the safest airlines in Africa.

Plus, their customer service is something they’re pretty proud of—expect to be treated well from the moment you book to when you land.

The World at your Fingertips

The real game-changer for Ethiopian Airlines is their flight network. Flying out of South Africa with Ethiopian means you’ve got a world of destinations at your fingertips—think major cities across Africa, Asia, Europe, and even the Americas. As of March 2024, they serve 117 international destinations across 79 countries. In fact, it’s considered the 4th largest airline in the world in terms of the number of destinations served. So the world really is your oyster. New York? Tick. Seoul? Tick. Madrid? Tick.

And with their modern fleet, think eco-friendly skies and cushy seats. Not to mention, being part of the Star Alliance means you get those extra goodies like mileage points, priority perks, and lounge access that sweeten the deal.

And with South Africans always aware of our weaker currency, learning to travel on a budget is often top of mind. We have to watch the bank balance wherever possible so we can marvel at the Colosseum, eat hotdogs in Times Square, or swim in the warm Phuket seas. So you’ll be (really!) grateful to know that comes to stretching your Rand, Ethiopian Airlines is on your side. They manage to keep prices friendly without skimping on the service or experience.


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The Perks

We all love some unexpected in-air perks. Or even the idea of a bargain purchase for a lie-flat seat. Who can blame? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to travel in style! And for those who love a bit of luxury, the Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine (business class) will have you floating. But here’s a kicker: even if you're flying economy, you can bid to upgrade your seat. Fancy more space or dreaming of a lie-flat bed? Make an offer and it could be yours. And often, it’s a really reasonable price too! Just make sure to keep your eyes on the app or your inbox.

Got a thing for personal space? You can also block out seats next to you for a little extra elbow room or to get that snooze in on a long-haul.

And you might be wondering about the in-flight experience itself. Flying Ethiopian doesn’t mean you’ll be skimping on anything. Quite the opposite, in fact. Ethiopian Airlines isn’t just another option; it’s an experience. Flying with some of the most modern and eco-friendly planes out there (hello, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350), you're in for a comfy ride while also knowing you're being kind to the planet. You’ll also have full in-flight entertainment with movies and TV shows, and dining options which cover global cuisines and traditional Ethiopian specialities. And let’s not even talk about the Ethiopian coffee you’ll be treated to. Seriously, it’s worth the price of a ticket just for that!

Layovers at Addis Ababa

Let’s face it – most of us don’t love long layovers. But knowing that you can spend it stretching your legs in a comfy airport, or even exploring a new city, makes it a million times better. You might be wondering what the layover experience is like with Ethiopian Airlines. So, let’s have a look.

First off, the airport is one of Africa’s busiest. So, it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that it’s modern, spacious, and newly designed. There’s plenty of seating and clean bathrooms. But much like flying with Qatar, Turkish, or Singapore Airlines, Ethiopian has also expanded into some really cool layover offers. If you've got a lengthy stopover, you might qualify for a free hotel stay and a chance to catch up on some Z’s in a comfy bed or explore Addis Ababa on the house.

Ethiopian Airlines really does stand out amongst the crowd, doesn’t it? With their friendly prices, extensive network, and those extra perks that make traveling a breeze, they're hard to beat. From the moment you book your flight out of South Africa to the second you land, they’re all about making your journey smooth and memorable. And with unique touches like bid upgrades and cool layover offers, it’s not just about getting from A to B—it’s about enjoying every part of the journey. Time to book a flight? We think so!

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