Guide to Ethiopian Airline Transit and Transit Hotels

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Ethiopian Air provides excellent Transit Service, they just don’t lay out all the details on their website. From numerous transits over the past year, including two this week, and piecing together sometimes conflicting, sometimes corroborating statements from staff, I now have a clear picture.

Ethiopian Air Transfer Desk

Eligible Transfers:

  • Must be international to international connection (no domestic inbound or outbound connection).
  • Connection must be between 8 and 24 hours.
  • Daytime connections of 8 or more hours eligible, provided on the next departing flight to that destination, if there is an earlier connection you are not eligible for free hotel.

Any Connecting Passenger Can Pay at a Great Rate (If Ineligible for a Free Stay):

  • $50 for stays up to 12 hours.
  • $70 for stays over 12 hours.
  • Payable in US$ cash or credit card (MasterCard/Visa).
  • Must be arriving international to get to the transit desk, so not available for domestic to international connections.

What It Includes:

  • Hotel accommodation at one of many hotels, you do not have a choice (this week I was at Hotel De Leopol one night and Bole Ambassador Hotel another), all are charitably around 3-star and in the overpriced market otherwise go for roughly $80-$120. These hotels do the creepy dark room open door thing when you arrive.
  • Free roundtrip transfer provided by the hotel.
  • Free meals at hotel according to time of day, for instance my 8:45 pm arrival tonight included dinner and breakfast.
  • All I have experienced include free wi-fi that has worked.

Bole Ambassador Hotel Room

How It Works:

  1. Important and awesome: you do not need a visa. Once you have your hotel voucher, go straight to immigration! (Exception: if you are connecting to a domestic flight and staying in Ethiopia you will need to get a visa on arrival or get a visa in advance. Visa on arrival payable in US$ cash or MasterCard/Visa.)
  2. Ideally you will get your hotel voucher when you check-in at your departure airport, ask for it. If you get it, upon arrival in Addis Ababa proceed direct to immigration.
  3. If you don’t yet have your voucher, upon arrival, which is usually by bus gate, go to the Transit Desk on the arrivals mezzanine. This is also the place to go if you are willing to pay. Do not go up to departures or down to immigration. If on the domestic or regional flights at Terminal 1 you need to follow directions to transfer to Terminal 2. The Transit Desk is a scrum: get to the front, and as with anything with Ethiopian, if you have anything that looks like a Star Alliance Gold card, use it aggressively.
  4. At immigration, hand over your passport, onward boarding pass, and hotel voucher. It is a breeze.
  5. In the baggage claim hall, right after scanning your bags at customs, show your voucher to the Ethiopian Air transit staff. They will direct you to the hotel’s shuttle, which may already be outside in the parking lot, or they may direct you to wait there or at a hotel arrivals desk outside baggage claim.
  6. At the hotel you only provide the voucher and passport. No deposit or credit card needed.
  7. Enjoy your brief Addis Ababa experience!

Bole Ambassador Hotel Dinner

Readers, any questions? Share your experiences.

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Stefan KrasowskiKristineAnetteStefan @ Rapid Travel Chaiprintable 2018 calendar Recent comment authors

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Kristine
Guest
Kristine

Question: If I’m eligible for the hotel, can I leave the hotel, even though I won’t have a visa? I won’t be stuck in my room, right? I can go around Addis??

Anette
Guest
Anette

Thank you Stefan, very helpful.

Anette
Guest
Anette

Hello Stefan,
Very helpful post. Thank you.
Planning to use the transit /hotel service soon hopefully. Having a 12 hour wait in Addis. Wondering whether it is possible to claim the luggage as a transit passenger ? When coming back from the hotel next day , do I have to check in again at the check in desk like anybody else?

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

On luggage you should specificy at initial check-in if they should check it only to ADD or all the way through.

On return to the airport, if you have luggage you’ll need to deal with that. Without luggage, you’ll have your boarding pass already and can go to security and immigration.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Hi Stefan,

Great post! We are flying business class EWR to ADD on award seats. Should we expect to be able to pick up the vouchers in EWR?

Thanks!

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

Yes, it should pop out with your boarding passes at the check-in counter.

Tai Hoang
Guest
Tai Hoang

US citizen here, so I’ll be landing in Addis at 5:40am and departing at 3:30pm (10 hour layover) both on ET airlines. However it is not the next available flight to Kampala, there is one that leaves 5 hours earlier. But I booked this one because it was cheaper and I wanted to do a day tour of Addis. I do not need a hotel. Do I qualify for a transit free visa or do I have to go through immigration and get a regular visa. Thanks

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

Not sure, getting to ADD ask for their help at the transit desk and good luck. Please report back your experience.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Thanks for the report Stefan! I have a bit of a head-scratcher that I am hoping you can help me with. I somehow booked a flight through ASKY Airlines to fly later this week from Tel Aviv to JNB with a stopover in Addis Ababa. In reality, both flights are on Ethiopian airlines. The first is ET 415, then I have a 8 hour 50 minute stopover in ADD and fly on to JNB. The flight is under ASKY Airlines code KP 1200 but it’s operated by Ethiopian (ET 859). My question to you is if I get a free… Read more »

Josh
Guest
Josh

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Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

I put it at very high likelihood that you get the hotel, when you check in at TLV it will be all Ethiopian staff and they should be set up to take care of it. If not, the transit desk in ADD. Sorry I don’t know on family members, it seemed like the charge was for the room so i think it would be just the one charge for you all, that is something to negotiate at the transit desk in ADD if needed. Please report back – so many angles to this.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Thank you so much! Will do. I’ve also seen something about an alternative option for a tour if Addis instead of a hotel. Do you know anything about that?

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

Have not, never been offered or seen such. Let’s us know if that is real as well. If not a regular benefit, once out of immigration, the arrivals hall has many hotel and tour operator desks, can be kind of sleepy some times of the day, should be enough to ask around for options if interested.

Brian Crawford
Guest
Brian Crawford

Aloha! I’m transiting Addis and have paid for ET business class round trip tickets. In your experience do the transit staff take that into consideration when assigning your hotel?

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

Yes, you will get something like Hilton or Radisson.

Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary
Guest
Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary

Mr. Stefan How about our case. We are YEMENIS passengers and We have immigration visa the USA. Our booking by two tickets and two airlines. Ethiopia airline, Emirate airline. But there is not a link between the airlines. And this Trip is from (JIB) airport to (SFO) airport USA. We have transit at (ADD) airport for 2-3 Hours. But there is not the link between the airlines. We have to receive our bags at ( ADD) airport. So We need to know What will happen at (ADD) airport? Must We need to check our bags at (ADD) airport before re-shipping… Read more »

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

If the two airlines have an interline agreement you may be able to check
in for your who trip at your departure airport. If not, when you get to
Addis, go to the transit counter and they should help you check in for
your onward flight. You will stay in the airport and not need a transit
visa.

Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary
Guest
Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary

Mr. Stefan How about our case. We are YEMENIS passengers and We have immigration visa the USA. Our booking by two tickets and two airlines. Ethiopia airline, Emirate airline. It means We will receive our bags at (ADD) airport from Ethiopia airline next re-shipping them by Emirate airline. Because there is not a link between the airlines. And this Trip is from (JIB) airport to (SFO) airport USA. We have transit at (ADD) airport for 2-3 Hours. But there is not the link between the airlines. We have to receive our bags at ( ADD) airport. So We need to… Read more »

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

This ticket you are showing is an overnight connection, not one of several hours. If the airline is saying you need a visa, then there is not going to be other recourse if they do not let you board. Airlines do not take responsibility for passenger visa requirements.

Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary
Guest
Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary

Mr Stefan Thank u. But You have to know some things. This Trip is from (JIB) airport to (SFO) airport USA. and there is transit 2-3 hours at (ADD) airport. And We will receive our bags at (ADD) airport from Ethiopia airline next re-shipping them by Emirate airline. Because there is not a link between the airlines. How can We receive our bags Ethiopia airline next re-shipping them by Emirate airline? Some persons told us We have to go immigration office to receive our bags and We must get the transit visa at (ADD) airport. But We don’t know What… Read more »

Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary
Guest
Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary

Mr. Stefan We ask some persons but they told us another answer. They told that. YEMENIS need transit visa at ADD airport. Because the booked by two tickets and two airlines and there is no’t link between the airlines.
What do you mind about our booked at ADD airport.

Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary
Guest
Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary

Mr. Stefan How about our case. We are YEMENIS passengers and We have immigration visa the USA. Our booking by two tickets and two airlines. Ethiopia airline, Emirate airline. But there is not a link between the airlines. And this Trip is from (JIB) airport to (SFO) airport USA. We have transit at (ADD) airport for 2-3 Hours. But there is not link between We have to receive our bags at ( ADD) airport. So We need to know What will happen at ( ADD) airport? Do We need to check our bags at ( ADD) airport before re-shipping them… Read more »

Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary
Guest
Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary

How about YEMENIS a passengers which have immigration visa USA.If they travel to USA and they will transit at (ADD) airport. If they need to get transit visa at(ADD) airport to check their bugs in (ADD) airport. Can they obtain the transit visa? Please We need to know if the passengers can obtain the transit visa at (ADD) airport?

Duza Baba
Guest
Duza Baba

Thank you very much for sharing your experience Stefan. I am printing this for reference for my 15 hr layover this coming Friday.

Adam Mundy
Guest
Adam Mundy

Hi

I’ve just booked a “budget” holiday to the Seychelles in October and was daunted by the prospect of having to spend a 15 hour stopover (8.30pm – 11.15am) at the airport,

It would appear from the information here that a transit hotel is already included in the price of the economy ticket or if not can be simply arranged at the airport, my independent travel agent was unable to find any information as useful and complete as this

Thanks

Happy Days 🙂

Qush
Guest
Qush

Hi

Is this appicable to economy passenger also? I am planning to fly with Ethiopian with 18 hours layover to KUL this coming July.

Thank you for the reply and this will really help me.

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

Yes, I have done it in economy and received the hotel as described in this post.

Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary
Guest
Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary

How about YEMENIS a passengers which have immigration visa the USA.If they travel to the USA and they will transit at (ADD) airport. If they need to get a transit visa at(ADD) airport to check their bugs in (ADD) airport. Can they obtain the transit visa? Please, We need to know if the passengers can obtain the transit visa at (ADD) airport? ALZOOBERY2001@YAHOO.COM

meir
Guest
meir

Hi Stefan
What is like to spend 2 hours in transit area at adis airport for our connection flight to cape town.
Is it true that it is not so pleasant . few toilets and very crowded.
Is Ethiopian airlines ok to fly with?
Can you please advice since we are a little concerned.
Thanks
Meir

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

Meir,

It isn’t the best, though two hours should not be a big deal. There isn’t much seating in the main transit area. You can go through security to the gates and there is addition seat, especially if you are in the downstairs area to the left from security there is some premium class seating that they don’t seem to enforce who sits there. Boarding can be a little chaotic, just let others go first. The airline itself is well run and I enjoy flying them, their crews, and the meals.

meir
Guest
meir

Stefan
Thank you so much for the info.

חמדת אבירם-ברנדוין
Guest
חמדת אבירם-ברנדוין

Hi Meir Ethiopian Airlines is quite good – especially if you get one of the newer aircrafts. Addis Abbaba airport is small and really not much fun – but if you only have two hours I would try to check in almost immediately, to give you time to go through security which can take time as there are few facilities considering the number of travelers. Also, try to have food with you as it isn;t always possible or easy to buy it at the airport. Duty free there is also a bit basic, but they do have lovely and cheap… Read more »

Hiro
Guest
Hiro

Hi Stefan, a great report and thanks so much for sharing this. Regarding minimum connecting time rule – do you have any clue if the situation like below, would be entitled for a free accommodation? There are 2 flight patterns available between BOM-ADD-CPT on a same day: ET 611 BOM (05:25) – ADD (08:00) ET 847 ADD (08:30) – CPT (14:15) ET 641 BOM (11:15) – ADD (14:30) ET 849 ADD (23:30) – CPT (07:15+1) Going with Option 2. Technically, if there is another flight combination on the same day that doesn’t involve more than 8hr transit like Option 1,… Read more »

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

Hiro, sorry I overlooked this earlier. On your option 1 I doubt 30 minutes is enough for the ADD minimum connect time. I would be surprised if that ticket could be sold and if you, I would not want to book such a tight connection. That option 2 is over 8 hours itself you so should have a hotel with for that sure, while for option 1 I suppose they can technically deny it since you could have taken the later, but even with that you should be entitled to a hotel so hopefully either would work out if you… Read more »

Hiro
Guest
Hiro

Thanks so much for your time to reply. I’ll negotiate and update my experience once I fly with them (it’ll be in April ’17). You’ll be amazed that ET actually does allow you to book even for a 15-minute connection. DEL-CPT for Summer ’17 schedule (say, 1st April) is the example. ET from DEL arrives at 07:45 in ADD and the next flight to CPT leaves at 08:00. I wonder if anyone with the right mind would actually book this ticket!!

Hiro
Guest
Hiro

I just had a 25-minute connection at ADD (as per the actual schedule). The flight arrival was 08:00am from Mumbai connecting to 08:25am departure to Cape Town. The incoming flight was delayed a bit and was parked at 08:20am, but the experience afterward was amazing. There was a separate direct bus to Cape Town flight waiting on the tarmac, and did not have to go through any security in the main terminal. Door to door in 10 minutes. I was worried about my check-in baggage making through but surprisingly it came out fine. I’m just impressed!

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

Amazing indeed!

Rodrigo
Guest
Rodrigo

Thank you very much for your help Stefan. It went all well and I didn´t have any problem with the immigration neither the visa.

@klau I stayed in Addis Abeba for 48hours and I didn´t have to pay for any Visa. They accomodated me in a good hotel. Don´t expect a lot from the sightseeing…

Klau
Guest
Klau

Hello guys. My case is i think pretty similiar. We have 18hrs stopover in Addis (during a day) and i wanted to get a Hotel from the Ethiopians and later a guide. Apparently i dont Need visa as you are writing, but the Problem is i dont want to pay this 70 dolars. is it other way to obey it ? Like maybe i will buy turistic visa at the Airport and will manage by myself going to the City? for me Hotel is not that important (as i want just Sightseeing). What do you suggest?
Thanks!

Rodrigo
Guest
Rodrigo

Hi Stefan, I just got to know that my return flight was cancelled and when I return from Delhi to São Paulo I will have to wait 2 days in Addis Ababa.
Do you think the same policy applies to this case?

Rachael Schneider
Guest
Rachael Schneider

@Rodrigo Can you tell the outcome? What did you end up doing?

zeevic
Guest
zeevic

thanks to all
got a bit mixed
i have an 18 hour lay over night in addis
do i get an hotel free?do i need to buy visa?
appreciate clarity
thanks

Patrick
Guest

@Stefan, when you face away from the gates, the Silver lounge is all the way to the left, in the second “block” of stores parallel to the gates. There’s virtually no signage, the entrance isn’t obvious, and people are typically loitering outside. That said I prefer it to the Gold lounge because it’s quieter, less ugly, and maybe a tad less beat up. I agree that the Gold lounge is pretty awful, especially at nights. There’s virtually no lighting. There is public Wi-Fi at the Gold lounge in T2 and dedicated secure Wi-Fi at the lounge in T1. No WiFi… Read more »

Patrick
Guest

Excellent post – bookmarked. Ethiopian is a fine airline, and the complimentary hotel service a pretty neat perk, but they sure don’t make it easy to redeem. It’s worth noting than staying any longer than 24 hours (26 hours in my case) means foregoing the free hotel and paying for a visa. On the flip side, Ethiopian doesn’t always enforce the “next available flight” rule – just a few weeks ago I was traveling with friends who voluntarily chose a later flight and still got a hotel voucher, no questions asked. Regarding the lounges, Ethiopian has four: three in Terminal… Read more »

Don W
Guest
Don W

Great synopsis. Quick data point, I’ve done the transfer 3 times in the past 18 months and have always received the Hilton Addis Ababa…. albeit flying business class.

Andrew C
Guest
Andrew C

@RTC, Thanks for putting this together!! ET is the easiest mileage-based option for a potential trip to India for a set of very specific dates I’m looking at, but the timings from the US to connect are pretty poor. Having the day room would definitely take some of the sting out. @john, one of the hotels he listed is near the airport, the other nearer the center of town (based on a quick look at Google maps, I haven’t stayed at either) — in any case, Addis isn’t a great place to sightsee by foot. I’d probably hire a guide… Read more »

john
Guest
john

@RTC, very helpful post, are you saying that if you are (1) ineligible for a free hotel (because you chose a longer connection than necessary) and (2) buy the hotel voucher from the transit desk, then you don’t need a visa?

Where are these hotels located? Are they somewhat convenient to sightseeing?

What are your top three things to do/places to visit on a transit?

How often did you get the voucher at the departure airport? I am surprised that outports would be that organized… I’m thinking about catching a flight ex CPT or JNB.

Gracias

ABDUALFATTAH ALZWPEARY
Guest
ABDUALFATTAH ALZWPEARY

How About the transit visa in Addis Ababa Airport for 4-5 hours for passengers of YEMEN.
IF we have booking by two tickets and two airlines there is no’t link between the airlines. We need to know if we need to get transit visa in Addis Ababa Airport or no? Where can we obtain the Transit visa?

ABDUALFATTAH ALZWPEARY
Guest
ABDUALFATTAH ALZWPEARY

How About the transit visa in Addis Ababa Airport for 4-5 hours for passengers of YEMEN.
IF we have booking by two tickets and two airlines there is no’t link between the airlines. We need to know if we need to get transit visa in Addis Ababa Airport or no? Where can we obtain the Transit visa?

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

If the two airlines have an interline agreement you may be able to check in for your who trip at your departure airport. If not, when you get to Addis, go to the transit counter and they should help you check in for your onward flight. You will stay in the airport and not need a transit visa.

Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary
Guest
Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary

Mr. Stefan How about our case. We are YEMENIS passengers and We have immigration visa the USA. Our booking by two tickets and two airlines. Ethiopia airline, Emirate airline. But there is not a link between the airlines. And this Trip is from (JIB) airport to (SFO) airport USA. We have transit at (ADD) airport for 2-3 Hours. But there is not link between We have to receive our bags at ( ADD) airport. So We need to know What will happen at ( ADD) airport? Do We need to check our bags at ( ADD) airport before re-shipping them… Read more »

Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary
Guest
Abdualfattah Ali Alzwpeary

Mr Stefan Ethiopia Airline refused the passengers by this way. They need transit visa. Can We submit a complaint about Ethiopia Airline?

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

This trip is next week, so I am interpreting that others passengers have been denied boarding on similar trips. Your trip is in a week. You should contact or go to your departing airport Ethiopian office and discuss with them how they will handle this. If the local airport will not allow you to board, then you should seek a refund and book an alternate ticket.

printable 2018 calendar
Guest

Enjoy your brief Addis Ababa experience!