After a remarkably smooth journey from London to Cairo on EgyptAir, the Cairo to Beirut leg was not as tranquil. The culprit: bad weather. The route from CAI to BEY over the Mediterranean sea was littered with storms and made for one of the bumpiest rides of my life.
I sometimes wonder if our mind just plays tricks on us — like the nightmare I had on United that my plane was crashing. The worst flight I have ever had was a Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh a few years ago. Extremely bad weather and a pair of aborted landings really gave me concern that we would not make it.
>> Read More: On Malaysia Airlines and the Fragility of Life
My flight on EgyptAir from Cairo to Beirut was not quite as bad, but imagine the cabin being lit not by light from the inside or anti-collision strobes on the wingtips, but by lightning: constant sheets of lightning on both sides of the plane.
The whole flight was choppy, but as we approached Beirut the flight became very, very bumpy. A Dubai-based film producer sat next to me, cursing that he did not fly another airline. He asked me why I was not scared and it I said, “Well, I am scared…but this would happen on any airline. The problem is the weather, not the plane or pilot.” We made small talk to pass the time.
And yet there must have been some semblance of normality on the flight because soon after takeoff, FAs served a meal. Although not hungry at this point, I nibbled at it and was impressed at what was offered on a quick 1hr flight at 9pm.
The seats on EgyptAir’s regional business class were similar to a domestic first class seat in the USA — showing their age a bit, but comfortable with an adjustable headrest, footrest, and a bit of recline. The business class cabin was proportionally large, though occupied by only a few passengers on this flight.
A seat-back IFE system featured the same content as the flight from London to Cairo.
Finally, we landed very smoothly in pouring rain in Beirut.
I used to enjoy bumpy flights like this. Maybe it is because I am older now and have a wife and baby at home, but I absolutley hate stormy flights now. The problem was not EgyptAir or the skill of the pilot: it was the weather.
People, like my seatmate on this flight, have a tendency to blame the airline for poor weather or turbulence. That’s a mistake: Horus (EgyptAir’s mascot) may have been the Egyptian god of the sky, but an airline cannot control the elements, only fly through them. Our safe and perfectly smooth landing in Beirut was testament to the skills of the pilot. Ultimately, even with the chop I felt safe on EgyptAir.