aeroplane
The NInja Verdict

ninja-wheel #NInja Verdict: Dublin to LA with Ethiopian Airlines

“Have you heard the one about the African airline, that flies from Ireland, direct to the far side of America – for a great value price??”

Youd be forgiven in thinking that this was the start of a classic joke … but would you believe there is a direct service with Ethiopian Airlines from Dublin to Los Angeles in the USA, that operates 4 times per week?!
Imagine stopping 10 people in the street in Belfast and asking them if they knew of this, and I would be very surprised if more than a couple were aware. Ethiopian opened up the Dublin – LA route in 2015!!

In fact, this service has been getting rave reviews for a while now – Ethiopian is a SKYTRAX 4 STAR Airline and has the youngest fleet in the industry, and the best thing? The airfares are a lot less than you would think! Being a USA Superfan, the #NInja HAD to check this one out and see for himself what ALL the fuss was about ….

Booking Flights
The Ethiopian website is fairly straight forward and intuitive enough for even the not so confident user to book their flights. Everything is laid out for the user to easily select dates that are suitable for them and compare against other days in and around that selected date – so it can be quite simple to find a better value fare. The options are also there to see the costs for the different grades of flight (business class right beside the economy figures) which is something that a lot of the other, more well known airlines don’t provide at first glance.

One of the strongest selling points for this route (arguably THE strongest) is the pricepoint – and with lead in fares at 489 EURO pp return (including tax and TWO x 23kg bags) for DIRECT flights to the West Coast of America you can see why this route is so appealing to potential #NInjas who would prefer to get to LA at a more reasonable cost than, for example the Aer Lingus route which also flies direct to LA.
Upon completing the booking, you are emailed through the necessary documentation as per usual – however, Ethiopian send through regular emails in the weeks leading up to your flight with reminders and the option to upgrade your seat into business class by you “offering / or bidding” a suggested amount that “could” be accepted at the time of the flights IF there is availability. There is a minimum offer of course (300 EURO), but with lead in fares at 2,210 EURO pp one way the Ethiopian Business Class experience is not completely out of your reach – and who wouldn’t want to fly with that extra luxury for 10 hours?!

AND .. there is currently a fantastic promotion for return business class fares as well – 1,920 EURO pp (min 4 days / max 1 month stay, book a week in advance) which is over 2000 EURO cheaper than the comparable Aer Lingus cost! Perfect for treating that someone special for a big occasion like a honeymoon or 40th birthday celebration!

Pre-flight
Ethiopian Airlines depart from Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport, when most other North America flights will fly from Terminal 2. This obviously means that you cannot perform the necessary US Pre Clearance like other Terminal 2 US bound flights … but we will come onto that later. The flight is an early morning departure (in this #Ninja’s case it was 7.30am) which is obviously an early start especially if you are travelling down from NI (remember you are advised to be at the airport 3 hours before departure) …. BUT the beauty of this means that you will be arriving into LA early morning which gives you the full day whereas other airlines have you arriving late afternoon / early evening – Ethiopian is the first flight into LAX from Europe in the morning. Why not take the stress out of the travel by booking yourself into the Dublin Airport Executive Lounge within Terminal 1 just after security – get away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal waiting area and treat yourself!

The flight is actually coming from Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and stopping over in Dublin with passengers en route to LA, so there will already be people on board when the plane arrives.

Aircraft / In-Flight Experience
The Ethiopian Airlines flight is in the brand new Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft – known for its high roof, larger windows, extra space and latest technology. The economy seats have that little bit extra legroom which is an absolute god send if, like this #NInja, you have very long legs! Before take off each passenger is given a small amenity kit that contains socks, an eyemask and toothbrush and paste – a nice touch. The combination of better air quality, higher humidity levels, lower cabin altitude and smoother quieter flight will enable passengers to step off the flight feeling much less fatigued.

During the flight there are two meal services with drinks at convenient times of both legs.
Each seat has an easy to use entertainment system built into the headrest in front and the options on offer with the usual selection of movies, tv, music and games that will keep you well occupied and make the flight feel like a matter of hours! It is all accessible via a remote control which is great as it means you dont have to continuously punch the screen in touch style format. Even the screen size itself is bigger than most other airlines economy in-flight entertainment systems. Each seat also has a power / plug socket underneath so you can keep all electronic devices fully charged.

There is no in-flight wifi option … so you will have to wait until you land to update your facebook status!
Business Class offers you the chance to fly like a VIP and makes a 10 hour flight so enjoyable that you may not want to leave! The seats are of course of a larger pitch and can be moved and repositioned to your liking – almost to flat bed level giving you the opportunity to stretch out and lie down for a proper kip with your fluffy pillow and thick blanket on your seat to keep you comfortable and warm. Upon arrival into the cabin you are greeted with the mandatory glass of champagne (or orange juice choice) and hot towel to freshen up. There are two main food services on this route – a breakfast service and a full 3 course meal service later in flight.

The breakfast gives you a main serving of scrambled eggs, sausage and potato wedges with sides of cornflakes, yoghurt and pastry. The main meal later in the flight has several options – you could have roast beef slices as a starter, with grilled beef for a main, and cheeseboard and pie for dessert. Or you could choose peppered chicken, or a pasta option. All served with your choice of wines, spirits and soft drinks on tap of course! Also, before the main course is served you are given the option for a traditional Ethiopian meal beforehand.
The entertainment option onboard Business Class is obviously on a higher level than Economy as well – with a greater choice of content, larger screen to view and noise cancelling headphones to listen with.

Landing at LAX
The approx journey time from Dublin to LA is 10 hours 20 mins. On the way back (with tail winds and other complicated reasons that the #NInja hasnt got the technical brain to understand) it can be as little as 9 hours 15 mins approx. As mentioned above, you will have to go through International Customs at LAX which normally sends people (who would usually travel from Dublin performing the necessary checks in Ireland before boarding the plane) into a panic:

“Aw you cant do pre-clearance in Dublin??”
“It will take forever when we land in LA!”
“Straight off a 10 hour flight and into a 1 hour customs queue in LAX??”
“All that before we can even get our baggage, itll be a nightmare!”

Well those opinions are pretty much thrown out of the water by this #Ninja’s experience – upon disembarking through the plane door it took a grand total of 12 mins (TWELVE) before the #NInja was standing at the baggage claim waiting on his bag. Due to the flight timings (first flight into LAX from the Europe) and the terminal flown into (Terminal 6 at LAX) there is little other plane traffic so the Ethiopian flight was the only one having to go through customs – and everything moved very quickly.

Conclusion / Verdict
The #NInja is a regular visitor to North America and has flown pretty much every airline on offer – at times with some mixed results. However the Ethiopian Airlines experience to LA was surprising in its efficiency and detail on offer. There is only one other airline that flies direct to the West Coast of America from Dublin (Aer Lingus offering direct services to LA, San Francisco and Seattle) but the Ethiopian service is as impressive as it is slick, getting you to the far side of the US in a relatively short time. The main selling point, as I mentioned above, is the price and can open up this part of the States as an affordable holiday hotspot, over the usual array of Florida and CityBreak options on the East Coast. I would have no hesitation in booking with Ethiopian again to get to that part of the world – the name on the aircraft may be surprising at first glance, but the quality and service provided means this #NInja has another easy way to get to his own personal happy place.

“An African airline? That flies to America? From Ireland??”
It may sound like the start of a corny joke, but there is nothing to laugh at here – apart from all the amazing experiences and fun times that you can have on a Californian #NInja escape. Give it a go, this #NInja thinks you will be pleasantly surprised.

For further information and booking, please visit http://www.ethiopianairlines.com or contact your local travel agent!

Economy Main Cabin
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