Moderators: richierich, ua900, PanAm_DC10, hOMSaR

 
signol
Topic Author
Posts: 2652
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:18 pm

South Africa By Ethiopian Dreamliner

Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:52 pm

For this year's family visit to South Africa, we decided to go during the Easter school holidays. Of course, being school holidays meant that prices were sky high, but I found a good price on Ethiopian, flying from and to Paris. Even considering the addition of Eurostar train tickets, the overall cost was much lower than a London departure, and a 1/3 of the cost of a Norwich departure.



Map showing flight routes, courtesy of www.gcmap.com


The first leg of the journey was by taxi, from our home to Norwich station, followed by trains from Norwich to Cambridge, then Kings Cross - we'd decided to change in Cambridge as it would involve less walking and steps, therefore avoiding the Tube.



A swing in a birdcage outside Kings Cross



It was easy enough to simply cross the road from Kings Cross to St Pancras station, for the Paris train. Before checkin, we took a drink stop at Starbucks, where one of the childrens' bags was left behind - fortunately it was handed in, and we were able to retrieve it, and they were instructed to not leave it anywhere - otherwise their chosen selected toys and books for the journey would be lost forever!


Checkin for the train was easy, with almost no queue. We were still invited to join a special queue for Groups and Families, which helped a bit. Our luggage was scanned, and we waited in the departure area for our train. A Brussels train was announced first, which cleared out most of the people. Soon our train was called, and we found our carriage and seats. We had a row of 4, across the aisle. The children elected to sit together, and asked to play on tablet computers - we relented, as they had spent the morning on trains playing and reading nicely.



Children playing in their seats



Long train



Overview of the carriage


Towards the end of the journey, the children were getting hungry, so I went to the buffet car to find some food. Pretty much the only option for a fussy child was a pizza. Speaking to the attendant, I was told that this weekend, due to pollution levels, in an effort to encourage Parisians out of their cars, all public transport in the Ile de France region was free. This included the RER train to the airport, which instantly saved us quite a large sum!



Getting dark on the train


By now it was getting dark, so on arrival at Paris, we headed for the hotel, the Ibis Styles Gare du ord TGV, which I'd booked based on its location. To be honest, it couldn't have been better placed for the station!



View from our hotel room


After a good nights sleep, and included buffet breakfast in the hotel, we went sightseeing for the day, leaving our luggage in the hotel's store room. More details of our visit (and the rest of the holiday in South Africa), can be found here: http://signol.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/2015-03-south-africa-and-paris-visit.html After a nice day out, we retrieved our luggage and took the (free) RER train to the airport.



Sleepy after a busy day sightseeing



My friend Chris's favourite bakery


Date: 22/03/15

Flight: ET705

Route: CDG-ADD

Aircraft: ET-AOU


Checkin was easy enough, especially as we could join the Priority queue thanks to my Star Gold card. Our bags were tagged as far as Johannesburg, and we could then pass through security, which seemed almost empty. By this time, there weren't many flights left from T2A that evening. Of the food options, there was a Starbucks, where we had a drink and a read before heading towards the gate. The Gold card would have got two of us into the lounge, but not the children (or myself and one child, leaving my wife with the other child outside).



Reading in Starbucks. Matthew got told off for putting his feet on the seat.


Our flight left from a satellite building on the end of the main terminal, accessed by a walkway. The children said it looked like a spaceship, or an airship!



The gate



Amy waiting patiently



First view of our aircraft, a Boeing 787. It had started its journey in Brussels, stopping in Paris to pick up passengers only.


Families,as well as Business Class passengers, and Star Gold card holders were invited to board first. So we made our way to our seats, where we had the A and B seats of two consecutive rows.



Matt watching the personal TV



View outside



Cabin view whilst boarding



Projected route



Safety card, already slightly tattered


It was a very short taxi to the active, before taking off. By now it was very late at night, and the meal service started. The childrens' meals were the same options as the adult ones. I don't remember what my meal was, but Matt's was a piece of white fish, with potatoes, carrots and gravy. He ate none of it.



Matt's meal


We all then settled as much as we could to sleep for the night. Whilst dozing, Matt must have been sick, as when I woke, I noticed some remains on his shirt, as well as the wall panel and floor - he himself was still asleep. I cleaned up as best I could, and made a mental note that he needed a change of clothes at Addis during the transfer.



Sunrise over Africa


It was still early morning when we landed, and we disembarked and picked up the pushchair in the bridge. There was about 2 1/2 hours between flights, so we headed upstairs to the transfer area, and found a bathroom where Tam could take Matt to change his shirt. There was also a drinking fountain, so we filled up water pouches (like a water bottle but they squash flat), but then realised that we would have to clear security again, so we drank it quickly. The security queue was very long, but we were requested to come forward to a "priority" queue as we had the children.


The layout of Addis airport is a bit strange, especially the international terminal airside. One half is the secure zone, with 2 security checkpoints, one at either end, and the departure gates. At each end (one of them downstairs) was a shipping container with toilets - there were no other facilities. Outside the Secure zone was the facilities zone, which was still "international", which contained the cafes, bars, duty free shops, etc.


Date: 23/03/15

Flight: ET809

Route: ADD-JNB

Aircraft: ET-ANR


Anyway, we found the gate, and didn't have to wait too long before we could board. Again we could use the Priority queue. I had preselected the same seats as the first flight, but the equipment was upgauged from 787 to 777, so we had been reallocated, to a group of 3 seats, then another across the aisle (which I had).



Settling in



Safety card


Addis airport isn't big, and there wasn't much traffic, so takeoff was speedy. We took off towards the east, and turned round to head south. Before long, lunch was served. This time the fish option was with rice, and tomato sauce.



Climbing out of Addis



Lunch



Inflight map


This being a day time flight required more entertainment for the children. Fortunately they managed to watch the PTVs for a while, as well as read some books and play with some of their bags of toys. Taking a walk back to the toilets also seemed to be a popular pastime of Matt's, I think we visited at least 12 times in the 5h flight! Though we have always said, that on hot days and on aeroplanes, you always need to drink lots. Approach to JNB was straight in, landing from the north. Having been here plenty of times before, we all knew exactly where to go. We showed the immigration official our children's birth certificates as well, but he said that the requirement to show them had been delayed again (it is now apparently active).


We still had some time before our next flight down to Durban, so we first of all headed upstairs to one of the viewing decks. It was inside, so there's a slight reflection glare from the windows.



An SAA A340 in special livery



Mango B738



Qantas B744



The children looking out


Date: 23/03/15

Flight: SA575

Route: JNB-DUR

Aircraft: ZS-SZA


We then headed downstairs to the mezzanine level, to the Spur restaurant for a snack / early tea, before checking in for our next flight of the day, on SAA to Durban. Again, we could use the Priority checkin desks, though there wasn't much of a queue anyway. We passed security and went to the gate, after buying some drinks and popcorn to snack on. Again we could board first, and we had two rows of E and F seats.



View from the seat



View from the window



Matt with a toy


Taxi and takeoff were short, and the crew commenced the service. The children have a rule at bedtime, that after 5pm they can drink only water, so we asked for water to go with the snacks that were given.



"Free" snack




It was only a 40 minute flight, so descent started quickly, before we landed and taxied to the gate. Our bags came out, and we exited the airport to meet Granny and Grandpa, and pick up our rental car for our time in kwaZulu-Natal.




After a nice time in Durban and surrounds (see here) it was time to head up to Gauteng, to visit my wife's brother and his family. Granny and Grandpa came too, but drove their own car, towing a trailer full of birds in cages that Grandpa had arranged to sell to a dealer. They left early in the morning, leaving us to have a leisurely breakfast before locking up the house and heading to the airport. this time the flight was booked on British Airways (or rather, their franchise partner Comair). The only non-Star Alliance flight of the trip, so we had to queue to check in in the regular Economy line. There weren't many people in front, and check in was easy - we still only had two cases instead of the limit of 4. through security, and drinks were demanded. The easiest place to satisfy thirst was Wimpy. Matt had a Creme Soda Float, Amy some orange juice.





Creme soda float. Much colouring.



OJ


It wasn't long before the flight was called, so we then headed to the gate to find boarding well under way.


Date: 02/04/15

Flight: BA6226

Route: DUR-JNB

Aircraft: ZS-OAO



Down the ramp at the gate



Tail of our aircraft



Through the bridge windows



We boarded and found our seats, the same layout as before.



Amy looking back



Legroom shot



Out of the window. Not much traffic at this time of day.



Safety card



Cabin view



South African edition of the regular BA magazine



Matt's lollypop for takeoff



Climbing out



Looking back over the Valley of 1000 Hills


The crew started the service. There was a choice of a sandwich or sweet pastry, plus drinks. Matt chose the pastry, so I chose the sandwich, but in the end he didn't want it, so I ended up with both. The soda float must have filled him up.



Food onboard


The flight is usually very short, and today was no exception, less than 45 mins in the air. Descent doesn't take too long either, as JNB is at high altitude. We land straight in.



Touchdown




Taxiing in



Domestic baggage reclaim




This was a standard, short domestic flight in SA, and in no time we were out and heading to the car rental desk, where we picked up our car for the next week. We managed to squeeze everyone in, and the luggage, and drove to Centurion, to Tam's brother's house.




After a nice week with the family, including a few days at a game park in Limpopo, it was time to head home. We all squeezed into the car for the journey to the airport, and dropped it at the rental office without issue. We then found the Ethiopian checkin desks - and were they busy! Fortunately my Star Gold card enabled us to use the Business checkin, which only had one person in front of us in the queue (as opposed to at least 30 people in the Economy queue) - but all passengers seemed to take at least 15 minutes to process each. Eventually we were seen and dropped our bags, before heading for security.



Date: 09/04/15
Flight: ET808

Route: JNB-ADD

Aircraft: ET-ANP




FIDS



Our 777



We had requested seats, which were honoured - at the rear of the 777, where the tail narrows, the 3-4-3 layout narrows to 2-3-2, for two rows, and we had requested the rear two rows of 2 on the starboard side. This gave us extra room, and no other random people to have to climb over to use the toilet, etc.



Waiting in JNB



View of the cabin whilst boarding



Out of the window



Looking backwards, at a BA A380 lying empty for the day



Route map


Takeoff was lumbering, as it always is from JNB, being hot and high. We slowly gained altitude.



View over the city



Soweto


The flight passed, with children watching movies, reading books and playing with toys. There was a meal service at one point, from my photo it looks like beef.



Meal


By the time we were approaching Addis, it was getting dark, and the landing was indeed in blackness. It was smooth, however.



Taxiing in



Our aircraft on stand



In Addis, we then had to find our way to the next flight. Now, I know that Ethiopian airport staff are exceptionally helpful, but do tend to leave you in the dark until providing a solution (see my trip via ADD a few years ago). This time, the infant pram wasn't available on the bridge, and by now we had two very tired children. We were taken upstairs to the main departure terminal, and told to wait here. It seemed like ages, but was probably about half an hour, when the same chap came back, carrying the pram. Very helpful, but we could have done with more information about ETA, what was going on, etc.



Inside the Addis Ababa terminal


Date: 09/04/15

Flight: ET704

Route: ADD-CDG

Aircraft: ET-ARE


We had about 3 hours total before our next flight to Paris, which continued on to Brussels. The flight information screens showed it as departing from gate 10 - downstairs, a bus gate, but there was noone there - and we were directed back up to another gate, Gate 4, despite the screens not mentioning this.



Deserted gate 10



Screen at gate 4 telling us to go to gate 10


Eventually someone arrived and welcomed passengers to Paris and Brussels - the Gold Card helped again, though we would probably have been asked to board first anyway, as we had the children.



Another 787



Legroom



Window



Matt enjoying a game



Looking forward



Personal AVOD. Required a reboot


This flight was almost empty. Most passengers could grab a row of 3 to themselves, as we let the children do next to us, after takeoff and cruising. We made sure they were strapped in.



Matt sleeping



Chicken meal


It was still dark when we arrived into CDG, onto the same gate as we departed from all those days before. It was also Tam's birthday, though she wasn't feeling so great. After landing and getting our bags, we sat for a while near the checkin desks, before being moved on by the police - nothing personal, there was a suspicious bag that had been found and everyone was moved out of the area. We then headed to the station, and caught the RER to the Gare du Nord. It being Tam's birthday, I then took the children off to try to find something for her, whilst she sat and rested.



Swing bridge



Canal St Martin


I had found the location of a patisserie that only sells gluten free cakes and pastries. I though this would be a good gift, so the children and I found it. We saw the sign, and went into the open door, to be told that is was still closed, and would open at 12:00 (in an hour). Unfortunately our Eurostar left at 12:30, so that was impossible, so we made our way back to the station, and the huge checkin queues for the trains back to London.



Gluten free patisserie



Seat 61

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-4_cOTV_jMIA/VXyry0uwpTI/AAAAAAAAGr4/LpEpidinHlM/s1600/DSC_0296.JPG

Matt is the boy in seat 61.



All told, a good trip. The departure from Paris has definitely a hassle, but the savings in this case made it worth while. Ethiopian were fine - I'd flown them before and would fly them again.

[Edited 2015-08-27 15:00:12]

[Edited 2015-08-27 15:16:10]
Flights booked: NWI-AMS-JNB-DUR, JNB-AMS-NWI
 
User avatar
aerorobnz
Posts: 8357
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2001 3:43 pm

RE: South Africa By Ethiopian Dreamliner

Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:45 am

Quoting signol (Thread starter):
, the 3-4-3 layout narrows to 2-3-2

The website says it's 9 abreast, has it started to be refitted??

I like to read more and more ET reports. I'm looking forward to my own NRT-HKG-ADD-FCO routing next week. Impressive to watch the logistical exercise of moving a family around the world from the perspective of an A.Net enthusiast too.

You're lucky you got on their rare -200LRs. My JNB sectors were both downgraded to 788s from 77Ls.
Flown to 147 Airports in 62 Countries on 83 Operators and counting. Wanderlust is like Syphilis, once you have the itch it's too late for treatment.
 
User avatar
allrite
Posts: 2615
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:28 pm

RE: South Africa By Ethiopian Dreamliner

Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:26 am

Always fun reading your reports of flying with a family.

Quoting signol (Thread starter):
Taking a walk back to the toilets also seemed to be a popular pastime of Matt's, I think we visited at least 12 times in the 5h flight!

Hehe, that used to be a hobby of Alex's, but thankfully he's been over his toilet obsession for a few years now. Used to drive us crazy in Japanese trains running back and forth from the toilet.

Pity you didn't have longer in Paris for Tam's birthday. We were there for Alex's 3rd and couldn't find a cake until we were almost back at the hotel after a long day, which seems awfully strange considering the reputation of French patisseries. But then again it's always hardest to find something when you are looking for it!

I can't imagine telling your average Australian that you were taking a family flight on ET or even passing through Ethiopia. It's great to see that reality and remote impressions don't match.
I like artificial banana essence!
 
WearyDrover
Posts: 659
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:12 am

RE: South Africa By Ethiopian Dreamliner

Fri Aug 28, 2015 7:40 am

Good to read a multi-sector report with coverage of both ET and domestic flights in SA.
Sorry to hear that little Matt was ill in flight. Nothing too serious?

Quoting signol (Thread starter):
and a 1/3 of the cost of a Norwich departure.

Can't argue with a price advantage like that when travelling with family.

Quoting signol (Thread starter):
Gate 4, despite the screens not mentioning this

Not too helpful, especially if you have a tight connection.

Thanks for sharing,
Weary.
A man may learn wisdom even from a foe - Aristophanes
 
roberts87
Posts: 1095
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:59 am

RE: South Africa By Ethiopian Dreamliner

Sat Aug 29, 2015 1:52 pm

Hello Robin,

Nice report, interesting to read about your experience with ET. The transfer in ADD does seem like a bit of a hassle, the airport could use some modernization I guess? The inflight experience looks pretty decent though! Thanks for sharing this story.

Robert
 
gabrielchew
Posts: 3817
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 5:43 am

RE: South Africa By Ethiopian Dreamliner

Sat Aug 29, 2015 4:04 pm

Nice report Robin...ET looked pretty good. Nice that you got to try out both the 787 and 777. I imagine it was pretty exhuausting with kids going via Paris, ADD and JNB!
http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: AMS-RIX-BUD-VDA,ETH-TLV-FCO-LHR,STN-TXL-LCY,LTN-CPH-LTN,LGW-SZG,MUC-LHR
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1864
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

RE: South Africa By Ethiopian Dreamliner

Sun Aug 30, 2015 7:29 am

Wow unbelievable that going through Paris is much cheaper; especially as you are 4.

Are seats on the Dreamliner narrow as some say?

Legroom looks bad.

I hope to go next year. What vaccinations do you need?

[Edited 2015-08-30 00:30:31]
 
SmokinL1011
Posts: 140
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:43 am

RE: South Africa By Ethiopian Dreamliner

Sun Aug 30, 2015 1:55 pm

Quoting signol (Thread starter):
otherwise their chosen selected toys and books for the journey would be lost forever!

This was the standout part of your report for me. Good to hear you have your kids reading books, even while on a journey!
 
signol
Topic Author
Posts: 2652
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:18 pm

RE: South Africa By Ethiopian Dreamliner

Sun Aug 30, 2015 8:31 pm

Hi,

Thanks for the comments!

Quoting aerorobnz (Reply 1):
The website says it's 9 abreast, has it started to be refitted??

You are probably right - to be honest I didn't notice...

Quoting aerorobnz (Reply 1):
Impressive to watch the logistical exercise of moving a family around the world from the perspective of an A.Net enthusiast too.

Ha, yes. Look up some of my previous reports, of the children growing up. Some of them with the kids as babies were interesting too!

Quoting allrite (Reply 2):
Always fun reading your reports of flying with a family.

Thanks allrite!

Quoting allrite (Reply 2):
Hehe, that used to be a hobby of Alex's, but thankfully he's been over his toilet obsession for a few years now. Used to drive us crazy in Japanese trains running back and forth from the toilet.

Possibly as Matt is a stickler for rules, and we've said that on hot days, and on aeroplanes, you have to drink a lot...

Quoting allrite (Reply 2):
But then again it's always hardest to find something when you are looking for it!

Yes, though I knew exactly where this place was. The issue was finding something gluten free (Tam is coeliac)...

Quoting allrite (Reply 2):
I can't imagine telling your average Australian that you were taking a family flight on ET or even passing through Ethiopia. It's great to see that reality and remote impressions don't match.

The same can be said for the average Briton and South African as well to be honest!

Quoting WearyDrover (Reply 3):
Sorry to hear that little Matt was ill in flight. Nothing too serious?

Hi WearyDrover, thanks - he was fine. I think a little hot.

Quoting WearyDrover (Reply 3):
Not too helpful, especially if you have a tight connection.

True, though we had a couple of hours.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 4):
Nice report, interesting to read about your experience with ET.

Thanks Robert.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 4):
The transfer in ADD does seem like a bit of a hassle, the airport could use some modernization I guess?

It wasn't too bad. The terminal was relatively modern, just poor design I would say.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 5):
Nice report Robin...ET looked pretty good. Nice that you got to try out both the 787 and 777. I imagine it was pretty exhuausting with kids going via Paris, ADD and JNB!

Thanks Gabriel. Indeed nice to try out all their long haul types, considering I had one of their 767s last time. Of course travelling with children is exhausting, however far it is! Make it interesting and it goes well. Along with distractions.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 6):
Are seats on the Dreamliner narrow as some say?

Hi Lychemsa, I can't say I noticed them being particularly narrow.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 6):

I hope to go next year. What vaccinations do you need?

If you mean South Africa, nothing in particular, but watch out where in country you go to, as some parts are in malaria areas. But none of the major cities.

Quoting SmokinL1011 (Reply 7):
This was the standout part of your report for me. Good to hear you have your kids reading books, even while on a journey!

Thanks. Matthew especially loves to read, his current favourite is the Beano comic! Amy is too young to read yet (she's only 3) but does like looking at the pictures and colouring in.

Thanks again for the replies!

signol
Flights booked: NWI-AMS-JNB-DUR, JNB-AMS-NWI

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: pgh234 and 15 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos