Small Note Before You Start Reading
If you’re one of those people who pretend that everything Lebanese is “the best in the world” and that any person criticizing them is “not patriotic” or “zionist” or whatever other buzz term you like to use on Facebook for someone who disagrees with you, then please, save yourself the heartache and don’t read this post. I care about the services I’m getting for the money I’m paying, not if the plane has a cedar on it or not.
1- The Ads Never Stop
If you’ve ever flown on MEA, the ads after the ancient safety and security video run for about 20 minutes (I shit you not) and you see better ads on US daytime television. From real estate, to plastic surgery and restaurants you’ve never heard of, there’s no way you can skip, mute, etc. the dozens of ads.
Now, putting ads is something everyone does, especially when the service or product they provide is free. But, when we pay the amount of money we pay to travel on our flagship airline (which has exclusivity btw) should be enough to make sure we don’t spend a quarter of my flight time admiring Dr. Nader Saab’s clinic and his cheesy “Al Jamal Nader w Saab.”
2- The Ground Staff Haven’t Heard of Standing in Line
Lebanese people don’t know how to wait in line. It’s genetic I guess. But then again, when they’re abroad, they miraculously learn how to wait for their turn. Usually, if someone cuts in line, the staff very politely take him/her aside and send them to the back of the line. They also help people stand in line (calling numbers, passengers with kids/disabilities/elderly first). In Lebanon, the hostesses with 2 kilograms of makeup have no problem at all letting some douchebag with an iPad1 and fake Abercrombie & Fitch sweatpants cut in front of 50 other passengers. Meshe el 7al wlooo!
Check-in times are also unusually long. You stand in line for ages because there aren’t enough staff, or simply because the employee’s friends from her hometown all decided to go on a field trip, and again, cut in line as you calmly wait for their small talk to end while listening to Skrillex’s “I wanna kill everybody in the world” to stay sane.
3- The Flight Attendants Utterly Despise You
More like elementary school teachers. Now, I’m not a prince or anything, but again, for the money I pay, I expect a “Mr” or “sir” like in any other company you’re dealing with, not “3ayni” w “habibi”. Also, it’s rare that you find an attendant which is accommodating, it’s as if they always hate their job and are having the worst day of their life and you’re just one more insufferable burden for asking for a glass of water to take your sleeping pills to be able to live through the flight.
4- The Cedar Lounge Smoking Area
It has very comfortable chairs and everything, but what really grinds my gears is that they have a smoking area too. I am a smoker myself, and would appreciate a smoking room in the Beirut airport like any other airport. But, in Beirut, it’s only if you’re rich enough to pay for business class, and that’s just pathetic, even though it coincides with Lebanon’s general narrative: if you have money, you can do whatever the hell you want even if it’s against the law.
5- The Water is Never Lebanese
Correct me if I’m wrong, but in all the times I went onboard (because Qatar Airways were using MEA planes), the water is always either Turkish or Saudi or some other country. Now, for a company that so vehemently opposes criticism to its job as “non-patriotic”, I find it extremely hypocritical to save money by buying water that doesn’t come from Lebanon’s mountain springs we’re all so proud of.
Is it the airport catering service’s fault? Then stock up on Lebanese water before you fly off from Beirut. I’m sure 70 passengers won’t drink more than a 3-4 standard baggage worth’s of bottled watered per 4-5 hour flight.
6- MEA Are Rude and Heartless
You all heard about Rula Helou, a disabled Lebanese journalist who wasn’t assisted on board an MEA flight, and ridiculed and taunted by their employees. Now, horrifying and inexcusable as that is, MEA’s statement was a bland, rude one, and they even had the nerve to comment on Helou’s alleged foul language. What. The. Flying. Fuck. (forgive the pun). If I am on a wheelchair, and some dumbass employee taunts me to “get up off it and walk onto the plane” when I have paid good money for that service, I have every right to tell him a hearty “Fuck. You.” (which Helou denies doing by the way).
So, instead of owning up to this atrocious customer service incident, MEA was haughty and defiant. I never took business courses, but even if the customer is a dick, you have an obligation to provide the service they paid for. We’re not dating MEA, so they don’t really get to tell us what we can and cannot say to them when they treat us like a high school playground bully.
Edit: apparently, it’s not just people on wheelchairs, but also blind people who suffered abuse at the hands of MEA employees, with a rude statement issued instead of a proper apology. (source, thanks Mostapha)
7- Safety Doesn’t Really Matter
Picture this: a crazy da3esh or nusra or (whatever they’re called this week) fighter with a surface to air missile. We’ve seen it, they have some of those weapons and they’ve allegedly succeeding in downing jet fighter aircrafts. Now, let’s assume there’s only a slight risk of that being true, what would that very same extremist baboon do if he felt trigger happy as an MEA flight full of innocent passenger passed over his “imara”? But, who cares right? We save on fuel and time!
8- Just Another Governmnent Monopoly, Only More Profitable
They are a monopoly. No one else has the right to start a Lebanese airline. Almost every single store and restaurant in the airport belongs to MEA or MEA higher-ups (like Cafematik and their million dollar coffee, just read the horrifying reviews on Foursquare here). They leave you no choice. I like choice. They also push up other airline prices. Why? Because there is no competition in Beirut’s airline industry, so MEA can charge whatever they want. Seeing that, foreign airlines will hike up their prices too, more profit, and us flyers can’t really do anything about it, cause we don’t have a choice.
Add to that unfair employee treatment, the sand siphoning scandals and a ton of other reported shady dealings like today’s Iraqi official scandal that made the plane turn back because his son missed a flight. All that shows you why I’d much rather avoid flying MEA. Heck, I get pissed when I book Qatar or Air France, and get an MEA connecting flight to the layover airport.
Take your patriotic beer goggles off. Being patriotic doesn’t mean smiling when you get ripped off or mistreated. Being patriotic means you have the guts to point out what’s wrong, say it like it is and do something about it. The idea that we need to sacrifice for our country and its companies, but don’t get anything in return for the money we pay for, is outrageous. And don’t even think of trying to quote JFK here. If he saw what was happening in Lebanon, I’m sure he’d retract it that famous quote.
So, pick up your game MEA, cause I personally would never willingly fly on the “world’s youngest fleet” till it’s worth the money you charge. The only good thing, is their old vintage ads…