Brazil Pt XIII: ET 507: GRU-LFW-ADD

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We found the check-in counters for Ethiopian and discovered that a long queue had already formed. We would spend more than almost 40 minutes in it.

Long queue to check-in

Flags of the countries participating in World Cup

All you need is Ecuador

With so much time waiting in the queue, I checked out the other co-passengers in the queue. It seemed that people of African descent made up around a third to half of the people on the flights and there were plenty of Asians and Caucasians around. Africa does have the potential to be hub for travel between South America and Asia.

Where we belonged

Sorry for the blur pic – security on Segway

There were several entrepreneurial Brazilian girls who went around the long queue to sell World Cup-themed keychains and surprisingly quite a few tourists bought from them.

Pretty brisk sales

The check-in agent clearly had a tough day but he still tried his best to do his job. He seemed surprised that we would spend a few days in Addis Ababa before continuing our journey back to Singapore.

After going through the immigration, we still had some time before boarding and headed to Proair Sala VIP lounge, a Priority Pass lounge.

Proair VIP Lounge

The staff wasn’t really happy when she made a mistake by charging both entries to Ying’s card but she remedied it on the spot. The WiFi was also broken during our time of visit.

Limited food on offer

We were famished since we only had some light snacks at GIG and both of us were glad that we had some free food before the flight.

Our dinner

Sitting area

Coffee machine – out of order

Surprised to find Sunday Times half the world away

We left the lounge half an hour before departure time.

Departures from GRU

Boarding pass

I was little sad that the scheduled 788 flight was replaced by a 772. It was probably due to the higher demand during the World Cup season.

ET-ANN bringing us to ADD

The boarding took really long due to the extra security. Before we could board the plane, we were made to line up in a single file and leave our bags on the floor. Then the security guys would bring a dog to sniff through our belongings before giving us the all-clear to board. We overheard a passenger of African background remarked to the Brazilian couple in front him about how rude the security guys were and the Brazilians agreed with him.

Flight: Ethiopian ET 507
Depart: São Paulo–Guarulhos (GRU) – 00:05
Arrive: Lome (LFW) – 10:50
Duration: 7h20m
Distance: 3,818 miles (6,145 km)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200LR
Registration: ET-ANN (The Blue Nile)
Seat: 14A

View from 14A

Welcome screen

Seat control

In-flight magazine and safety information card

Goodbye South America

Message from CEO

ET route map

What’s on

There was a full meal served after taking off and we chose chicken with rice.

Full meal

Both Ying and I were amazed with the rudeness of the crew. No one smiled and when Ying informed the crew about her choice of drinks, she was met with a pair of rolling eyes and a firm ‘no’. Apparently the SOP was to serve the food first before taking drink orders. We were terrified of the crew and didn’t dare to make any request the entire flight.

The Brazilian guy in front got it worse; his special meal wasn’t loaded and after looking through the manifest, the crew sternly told him to remember to order it next time. To the passenger’s credit, he just shrugged and went back to sleep.

It would be a looooong flight

I fall asleep after the meal and woke up when there was daylight outside.

Daylight

I couldn’t tell where I was because the flight data was unavailable.

Flight data unavailable

Breakfast was served while the IFE was being fixed. The crew’s attitude didn’t improve at all.

The scary crew serving our aisle

Breakfast – potato, mushroom and tomatoes

We are back in GRU?! Shucks

Not exactly. We were flying along the coast of Africa.

Africa

Ethiopian Eats for our time in Addis Ababa

Some West African coastal city

Low clouds

Forest

Lome seemed dusty from the sky.

Abandoned planes?

Hangars

An Ethiopian Cargo 737

Left to decay

Making sure that the plane was properly parked

Terminal

New terminal a few hundred meters away

Stairs

Bus for passengers

Only passengers whose boarding passes indicated Lome as their destination could disembark and there were quite a few of them. It wasn’t surprising as LFW is the hub of ASKY, a Ethiopian Airlines’ subsidiary. I believed that quite a number of them would be connecting to other destinations in West Africa.

Passengers finally disembarking

A guy who was supposed to travel to Addis Ababa decided that he wanted to get off at Lome and caused some commotion. Took quite a while to placate him and he was eventually allowed to go after making some payment. It was all very strange.

ASKY’s 734 – all of its aircraft are leased from ET

Passengers joining us from Lome to Addis Ababa

Another ASKY’s plane

Another inconsiderate passenger

A positive aspect of this layover was that the set of crew from hell were replaced by a much more pleasant set. Another long flight with them would be quite unbearable.

Flight: Ethiopian ET 507
Depart: Lome (LFW) – 12:00
Arrive: Lome (LFW) – 20:35
Duration: 5h35m
Distance: 2,581 miles (4,154 km)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200LR
Registration: ET-ANN (The Blue Nile)
Seat: 14A

Got a few shots of Lome during the ascent.

Lome

Lome beach

Port

The new set of crew came along with some snacks.

Airplane-themed snakcs

Cool

The 5.5 hour flight time allowed me to finish two movies and I watched Out of Inferno and Kai Po Che. Quite interesting to watch Mandarin and Hindi movies on an African airline.

Out of Inferno

Kai Po Che

Dinner was served pretty early and I chose to have fish.

Dinner – Fish I think

While waiting for the washroom after the meal, I noticed that some young Brazilian boys were chatting up a very friendly crew. The boys were heading to Sweden for a football tournament and it seemed that Ethiopian was the cheapest option. The difference between the first set and the second set of crew was really heaven and hell.

Almost there

Ying and I decided to visit the washroom before landing and we struck up a conversation with a friendly male crew. He told us that he had flown to Singapore once and was really impressed with the city. He was very happy to find out that we would be spending some time in Addis Ababa and gave us some useful tips for the city.

We got a remote gate and had to disembark through stairs. After around 14 hours on the plane, we were glad to be on ground again. We were also excited to be in Africa for the first time.

~14 hours after leaving Brazil

The bus brought us to the terminal and we had to make a long walk to the immigration. Midway through, we were asked to show our boarding pass to the security personnels.

There was a long queue at the immigration as there were quite a few flights arriving at around the same time. I spotted some really exotic passports (Niger, Mauritania and Sudan etc) while in the queue. While it took some time for me to get stamped in, interestingly the immigration official didn’t ask for my yellow fever certificate.

Waiting for our bags

Sao Paulo is probably the least exotic destination

While Ying waited at for the bags, I went to the moneychangers to get some Ethiopian Birrs (ETB). 100 USD got us 1955 ETB and we would change another 50 USD later on during the stay.

When passing through the customs, a security person was there to make sure that our bags’ tags matched the receipts. It would take almost an hour after landing before we got out of the airport.

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Brazil Pt XII: JJ 3687 GIG-GRU

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After more than three weeks in South America, we would head home from Rio. Ethiopian offered the cheapest flight back to Singapore (915.80 USD) and after they canceled the flight between Rio and São Paulo, they put us on a TAM flight.

We bid farewell to our host and headed to the airport after the end of the earlier matches at 3pm. Brazil’s final group match would kick off at 5pm and we were slightly worried about the availability of taxis during that. Luckily we got a taxi pretty easily and the ride there cost 50 BRL.

TAM Check-in counters at Terminal 2

Despite our early arrival, we were able to check in our bag and get our boarding passes. The agent was also able to add our frequent flyer number (Malaysia Airlines Enrich) to our booking.

Havaianas on sale

There would be a live screening on the air-side and we went through the security really early.

Glued to the screen

Brazil beat Cameroon easily and halfway through the match we decided to explore more of the terminal.

Air-side

Official fan shop with expensive merchandise

Sunset in GIG

Brazilian fans horsing around with accessories

We spent our remaining BRL on some snacks and waited out for our flight. It seemed that domestic gates could be turned into international gates with partitions; while we could visit the official fan shop during the match, we were blocked off later in the evening.

Flight: TAM JJ 3687
Depart: Rio de Janeiro-Galeão (GIG) – 20:45
Arrive: São Paulo–Guarulhos (GRU) – 21:55
Duration: 1h10m
Distance: 209 miles (336 km)
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Registration: PR-MBA
Seat: 24F

Boarding was called by zone and we were able to board early.

View from 24F

Welcome World

Loading up the bags

Only service of the flight – pre-departure sweets

On the other side of the aisles, there were TAM GIG-based crew who were positioning to GRU for another (international?) flight. While none of the passengers got meals, the crew were only ones given hot meals during the flight.

Mid-flight

Arriving at GRU – I could spot Etihad and United

Our checked bags arrived safely at the luggage claim and then we headed to find the check-in rows for our Ethiopian flight to Addis Ababa.

Kids posing with Fuleco

Heading up to Departures

Found Ethiopian