Other than the smoking, I had a wonderful flight on Middle East Airlines from Dubai to Beirut.
In my teaser about this flight, I mentioned that the pilots were smoking onboard. I must mention it first here, for I know that it is a deal-breaker for many of you. Indeed, as I stepped onboard the clear and unmistakable smell of cigarette smoke was wafting through the cabin. At two other points during the flight, the cabin also smelled like the smoking section of a bar or restaurant.
Seats were even provisioned with ashtrays, though it was certainly not passengers who were smoking.
I guess these signs don’t apply to pilots:
With that said, the flight was otherwise wonderful.
The flight, not the delay. We were delayed 90 minutes leaving Dubai and ended up arriving in Beirut about an hour later. That cut my connection down to e e, but I still easily made my connection.
Finally, around 3:15a, we boarded.
Middle East Airlines 431
Dubai (DXB) – Beirut (BEY)
Friday, August 10
Depart: 02:15 AM (03:45 AM actual)
Arrive: 04:35 AM (05:35 AM actual)
Duration: 03hr, 20min
Distance: 1,331 miles
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Seat: 4A (Business “Cedar” Class)
Middle East Airlines Flight Time
The journey on Middle East Airlines takes one hour less than the same journey on Emirates or flydubai. Why? Middle East flies over Iraq and Syria while Emirates and flydubai travel over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, totally avoiding Jordanian, Iraqi, and Syrian airspace. That adds an hour of travel time. At first I thought we took the more “dangerous” route to make up for our delay, but in looking at the the flight path across a number of dates, it appears Middle East Airlines consistently takes this more direct routing.
Middle East Airlines A320 Business Class Service
I want to commend the FAs on this flight for being so wonderful. Not only were they beautiful in appearance, they were warm and friendly, exactly the kind of hospitality I experienced when I visited Lebanon.
Throughout the flight they kept a careful watch on passengers, ensuring they were comfortable. I also appreciated that the multi-course meal service was done in less than 30 minutes after takeoff. Now that’s efficient and allowed me to get some sleep.
Middle East Airlines A320 Business Class Seat
While not lie-flat, the seats onboard the A320-200 are quite comfortable loungers. When fully reclined with footrest up, I was able to fall asleep. The seat was controlled electronically and had seen better days. Personal IFE was also provisioned in the center arm rest of each seat.
Power port and headphone jacks were located between seats.
The pillow was nice, but the blanket was scratchy and thin. No amenity kits were provided.
Middle East Airlines A320 Business Class IFE
I browsed the IFE after takeoff. I’d rate the library size as below average, but there was still plenty of current release movies available as well music, TV programming, games, and a moving flight map.
Noise cancelling headphones were bulky and uncomfortable, but functional.
Middle East Airlines A320 Business Class Dining
As I mentioned above, FAs quickly served a meal after takeoff. I had not eaten in several hours and was looking forward to the late-night snack.
Prior to takeoff, a variety of fruit juices were offered. I chose orange juice.
Menus were distributed before takeoff and specifically prepared for this flight:
The appetizer course included hot bread, cheese, fruit, and delicious Labneh with olive oil and mint. I love how every dish and cup has the Middle East Airlines cedar logo on it.
For the main course, I chose scrambled eggs with Lebanese sausages and grilled tomatoes. I still cannot pinpoint what exactly was in the reddish sausage, but it had a great spicy taste. The eggs were very runny, but I like them that way.
Middle East Airlines A320 Business Class Lavatory
I used the lavatory to freshen up prior to landing. It was clean but otherwise spartan.
Yes, the smoking was annoying. But I appreciated the seat, food, and especially service on this flight. I would not hesitate to fly Middle East Airlines again and would indeed soon have my chance aboard an A330 from Beirut to Frankfurt.
Finally, let me briefly compare Emirates and Middle East Airlines. Emirates runs a 777 on this route with superior seats in business and a real first class cabin. I’ve also never smelled cigarette smoke on Emirates. But I think the service and food is superior on Middle East Airlines.
That’s too bad about the smoking, because MEA looks like a solid airline otherwise. As it is, they unfortunately get a spot on my “X” list until they address the smoking issue.
This flight isn’t indicative of all MEA flights. I’ve been on them quite a bit, and this smoking incident is a one-off, I would say.
As much as you harped on the smoking issue, I really hope people don’t walk away with the idea that this is common on MEA flights…it isn’t. I’ve taken more than half a dozen flights with them and never once smelt any smoke coming from the cockpit.
The sausage you had was most either makanek or sujuk. Both contain a variety of spices (garlic, salt, cumin, sumac, red pepper, black and/or white pepper, Fenugreek Spice, among others). You most probably had sujuk, since it is spicier than makanek, and more red in color (makanek is usually more brown).
I start my review with the smoking issue because the plane smelled like an ashtray. But I hope I demonstrated in the rest of my report how much I enjoyed MEA otherwise and would not hesitate to fly with them again.
That is good to know.
Also, no review of the lounge MEA uses at DXB?
I covered the SkyTeam Lounge in a previous trip report:
Just curious and jittery, how safe is to fly the route now BEY-DXB with MEA Arilines as I have a booking
I see it still flies over Syria, it the only non-syrian airline. please reply
My flight was earlier this year and I felt very safe despite crossing Syrian airspace. I like MEA.