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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.
- 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-$120. These hotels do the creepy dark room open door thing when you arrive.
- Free roundtrip transfer provided by the hotel.
- Free meals at hotel according to time of day, for instance my 8:45 pm arrival tonight included dinner and breakfast.
- All I have experienced include free wi-fi that has worked.
How It Works:
- Important and awesome: you do not need a visa. Once you have your hotel voucher, go straight to immigration! (Exception: if you are connecting to a domestic flight and staying in Ethiopia you will need to get a visa on arrival or get a visa in advance. Visa on arrival payable in US$ cash or MasterCard/Visa.)
- 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.
- 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.
- At immigration, hand over your passport, onward boarding pass, and hotel voucher. It is a breeze.
- 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.
- At the hotel you only provide the voucher and passport. No deposit or credit card needed.
- Enjoy your brief Addis Ababa experience!
Readers, any questions? Share your experiences.