MEA’s Cute New Safety Video… And Should I Fly The Airline?!

While I’ve heard great things about Beirut as such, the country’s carrier, Middle East Airlines (MEA), seems a little bit less awesome. The airline has a fleet of just 21 planes, including just five widebody planes, all of which are Airbus A330-200 aircraft. They simply have recliner seats in their Cedar Class (business class), which look rather outdated. They also don’t operate any true longhaul flights, so I think the best way for me to try them would be between Beirut and London.

Despite how bland the airline looks, I’d like to try them at some point. Perhaps I can do this in the context of a very creative routing between Bangkok and London, which gets me on another airline that I really want to try, as shown in the below itinerary.

Royal-Brunei-Fare

MEA-Fare

BKK-LHR-Fare

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of this post. While Middle East Airlines hasn’t been doing much to update their brand in terms of the onboard experience, they do have a very cool new safety video they just put out.

I love when airlines release creative safety videos, as it’s a great way for the airline to engage passengers and get them to pay attention to the safety briefing, which is ultimately in everyone’s best interest. I’d say this is something that Air New Zealand has done better than any other airline.

MEA has a creative new safety video that highlights much of Lebanon, including the sights and people. Check it out:

My one complaint is that it’s a bit long. While I like how creative airlines are getting, I’d appreciate if it didn’t get in the way of them having the videos be short and sweet.

What do you think of MEA’s new safety video? Would a review of their product be interesting, or is their product too outdated and route network too limited for that to be useful?

Comments

  1. The SPG Luxury collection property in Brouhana (just outside of Beirut) looks nice, might be worth a review.

  2. Lebanese people and food are simply amazing. They are one of the nicest and friendly people you can find, very family oriented and they care about others anywhere they are. Also, the women there are simply gorgeous.

  3. Beirut is wonderful. I loved my time there when I went two years ago. There are some amazing hotels there as well. The Le Gray Hotel is worth it. The Four Seasons is great there too. And the food is awesome. Highly recommend a few days there – I cant wait to go back. Not so sure about MEA, but I guess try it. Supposed to be nice onboard and food good

  4. @lucky yes, please do this routing. On the outbound you should take Either Binman or KU to BKK and take the new AI 5th freedom or Aeroflot on the return

  5. @Santastico You are more than a little bit getting carried away here. Sure, it’s a nice country, the food is great, Baalbek a wonder to behold, but it’s not the wonderland you make it sound. Anyway, Lebanon is worth a visit, but only if one ventures outside Beirut.

  6. Beirut is a beautiful city, the Lebanese are wonderful people and the food is delicious. That being said, avoid MEA at all costs. It’s the worst airline I’ve ever flown.

  7. @Christian: What did I say that is wrong? Read posts from others here and they seem to share the same impression. My wife comes from a Lebanese family and anywhere in the world we go and meet other Lebanese people they couldn’t be more friendly and happy. Did I say it is the wonderland? No. But where is that place? Go venture yourself in many places here in the US and you will see it is not the same everywhere you go here.

  8. Taking MEA Business in 2 weeks actually so this is funny timing. We are on a shorter flight within the Middle East though. I have not idea what it will be like but between the two destinations we are going it was either MEA business or Egyptair business (which was twice as long).

  9. Don’t take MEA, they are terrible. I just got back from Beirut, and I usually fly MEA when absolutely necessary. If you ask for water, they will give it to you in a paper cup, and if you ask to get it replaced with a bottle, they will give you attitude. The service is horrendous, and the attitude by the flight attendants are unnecessary.

    I love Beirut, go there every year, it’s an amazing fusion of religious and cultural backgrounds. Lots of places to see, and the food is incredible–quite possibly the best the middle east has to offer.

  10. I fly MEA quite frequently both from London and Dubai, business class in their A330s is actually quite good but their A320s are absolutely useless. The service isn’t great as all the FAs seem to hate their jobs but I actually like their food and they’re quite innovative with their menu design. But the best part of flying with them is the 10 minutes of advertisements for plastic surgery doctors, hospitals and banks in Beirut that plays after take off. I really hope you try them out but be warned that transit in Beirut won’t be very fun and the Cedar lounge is big but very poor by international standards. Definitely try and spend some time in Beirut, it’ll give you a much better impression of Lebanon and Lebanese people than MEA will.

  11. Alitalia flies from Beirut to Rome. You haven’t reviewed them in ages, if ever. Right?

    I don’t get the anti-recliner seat sentiment from so many folks. It’s at most 5 hours from Beirut to London–that’s like a domestic U.S. flight. I’m all for lie-flat, 1x2x1 business-class seats on international flights, but it’s a little overkill for five hours during the daytime.

    I went to Beirut in 2009. Amazing place. Seriously. Great wine. Aren’t you Jewish? You might have an issue getting in there, if anyone found out you were Jewish.

    I regret not taking the $40 taxis from Beirut to Syria in 2009. Now, Syria has been destroyed. So much heritage and culture lost. Ugh.

  12. Hi Ben,

    I fly to BEY every year since I was born since I’m dual US and a Lebanese citizen. I take MEA almost all the time since BA or LH are sub par products there since they is intra-Europe aircraft. I would recommend flying their A330 since its a better product flying cedar class versus their other aircrafts. Also go via CDG since there’s more frequencies and tend to have better service on those routes (and they tend to be way nicer both in food and service in biz than economy from past experiences). DL Skymiles should be your best option.

    Obviously don’t have high expectations that you’re going to be flying Qatar biz or Emirates, but it’s a decent airline in my opinion getting into BEY.

    If you need any recommendations of what to do in Beirut or anywhere in Lebanon (since there’s so much to do), feel free to PM me! It’s a great country with great food and hospitable people!

    Best,

    Omar

  13. Beirut is great and worth a visit for sure. MEA is nothing special. None of their flights to europe are longer than 5 hours so they don’t have much of a need for great business class. The airport, planes, flight attendant uniforms all feel dated.

    The A320s just have recliner seats.
    The A330s have angled flat seats which I think are two generations old.

    The most interesting thing about them is that the ratio of business to economy seats is very high. Their A320s have 6 rows of recliner seats in J and the first economy row is the overwing exit row! I don’t think I have ever seen an airline have such a big J cabin (except AA 321T). The A330s have a pretty big J cabin too and it is super wide open. No bulkheads. Lucky would have a cow at the lack of privacy.

  14. @Omar A.,

    BA is actually better than MEA on the London route since they fly the lie-flat ex-BMI midhaul A321s, I have taken them a few times. LH on the other hand is dreadful, as you already know.

  15. Our host is German. I don’t believe he’s Jewish though perhaps I am wrong. Being Jewish won’t make any difference getting into Lebanon. Having Israeli passport stamps or evidence of visiting Israel will.

  16. ***sigh***

    My hopes for reviews of Uzbekistan Airways, Ukraine International & Aeroflot are fading into the mist.

    However, it would be interesting to read of Ben’s impressions of Beirut.

    Hmmm…how about a trip on Royal Jordanian from the US to Tel Aviv?

  17. @Angeleno228

    True I do agree with you on the BA aspect that they have a better hard product. I’ve just had so many terrible service experiences both ex LHR and especially ex BEY that I only go on them if I have no other choice. Lol.
    I prefer AF, but I’m glad you agree about LH. Lol.

  18. @Lucky – If you have 19 hours in Bandar Seri Begawan, it’s worth checking out (no visa needed for Americans). It’s really a small town more than anything and there are limited places to stay there but it is nonetheless an interesting country to check out. Empire Resort and Hotel is probably the nicest place to stay but is removed from the city center. Radisson is closer to town.

    Also, D class on Royal Brunei doesn’t earn Asia Miles on CX.

  19. Lucky are you an anti Semite? What’s with your obsession with all these Muslim airlines, but your refusal to ever review el al?

  20. The truth is, you indeed have a large readership who are waiting with bated breath and yearning eyes to read a review of El Al.

  21. @Lucky- I think this is a trip you should try but try going through Paris as the A330 they use on that route is newer and the cabin is sleeker than the old ones and it’s and all round better flight. Also, instead of transiting I think you should consider staying a night or two in Beirut and visit nearby towns and cities or just explore the city. All in all, I think you should benefit that Lebanon is safe at the moment.

  22. That’s an interesting safety video. It reminds me very much of the AF “France in the Air” version. I wonder if it was the same AF team that made the video.
    Thanks for sharing!

  23. There is a lot to see in Beirut and outside of Beirut.

    Outside, among the places to see there is Baalbek, Byblos, Tyre, the Ceders, and the Qadisha Valley. Lots of lovely ruins, architecture, historical sites, great food, and lots of lovely natural scenery (beaches and mountains mostly and lots of lovely views).

    In the Beirut area, there is lots to see and do. You can go to Harissa, see the Pigeon Rocks, walk and see some of the lovely different neighberhoods and districts like Hamra, Achrafiyeh, Mar Mikael, Verdunne, Downtown, and the Corniche. And there are some nice older architectural homes scattered throughout each area (Downtown has a nice mix of lovely old school churches and mosques, and even a synagogue). There are nice hotels to stay at, and Beirut is becoming a new gastronomy capital; Travel & Leisure named it as the top city for international food this year. You get a nice mix of traditional and modern Lebnanese but you’ll also get great Western, Asian, and other Middle Eastern fare as well, and some nice fusion of all of them. At the food caters to not just different taste buds but also budgets; they have everything from cheap and tasty street food to wallet busting fine gourmet and everything in between. And the nightlife is fun too, there are tons of different bars, cafes, and nightclubs to keep you busy.

    So Lebanon is definitely worth a visit, just keep in mind traffic in Beirut and on the highways throughout can be nasty at times, due to the huge influx of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, but you can work around that. My best advice is if you go there, either arrange for a car and driver service or go with/meet up with someone who knows the country well.

    As far as travel there, premium options are average. You have MEA with it’s business class, and the options from Europe aren’t much better. Lufthansa and Alitalia for some reason offer inter-European style business class to Beirut, while Air France offers a real (though angled) business class seat. British offers the ex-MBI A321, which is a decent seat. If you fly in from the GCC, Qatar and Etihad only usually send narrow body planes, which will mean a recliner seat. Emirates will sometimes send a B777 but usually sends an A330 or A340, so if nothing else, you can try out their super old school first class seat for sh*ts and giggles on one leg while trying out MEA’s business class.

  24. MEA business class is the best i the world. They may not have the best entertainment video or wifi but their service is simply amazing! I visited the cockpit inflight! They would do whatever they can to ensure your happy. Please review them!!

  25. You’re not willing to travel through Cairo, and you think that Beirut is better?
    MEA is the only airline that feels it’s still safe to travel through Syrian airspace, which is where your flight from Dubai will take you. Try to think why do all other carriers spend a lot of time and fuel on bypassing Syria.

  26. They are not recliner seats, but angled-flat. Philippine Airlines uses the same Recaro seats on their 777s on transpacific flights.

  27. @Lior

    Most airlines (especially the GCC ones) don’t fly over Syria for political reasons more than anything else.

  28. @Julia

    I don’t think this is the case. Most airlines these days are privately held and fuel and time mean much more than politics. Thankfully safety is not. You might have had a point if a single non-Syrian airline, except MEA would fly through Syria, but even Iran Air, owned one of the only Assad friendly governments, takes the long route via Turkey when flying to Beirut. flightradar24 doesn’t lie.

  29. Most of the airlines flying/not flying over Syria, are government owned, especially the GCC ones. And they are definitely making a point by not flying over Syria. Iran Air also doesn’t fly over Iraq…

  30. Ben,
    Thanks for sharing this.

    In the not too distant past MEA was the Emirates and Beirut the Dubai of the Middle East before the civil war in Lebanon. In fact EK came to MEA in Beirut for some initial assistance in its set up.

    Further, the video is a bit long as its done in both Arabic and English. It reminds me of the Qantas safety video showing off the country’s beauty.

    The below photo link sums up MEA and Lebanon….besides being the first to introduce Arab head dress for cabin crew in the 60’s, the short mini dress also speaks volumes on the openness and sophistication of the country. It was a high end boutique carrier and destination. When you combine both the traditional and the modern you have Beirut pretty well summed up!

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=middle+east+airlines+uniform+through+the+ages&biw=1098&bih=512&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiI_qaJ7oPRAhWIp5QKHWQ2Ad8Q7AkIJg#imgrc=XunGsxY8hEULIM%3A

    They are a great middle of road carrier, very young fleet and have on order 10 A321 neo’s, A330 neo’s and/or 787’s. This carrier defied the odds of survival and is quite profitable to boot compared with nearly every other carrier in the region. I also agree with other posts…..I’d much rather be in an MEA aircraft from EU to BEY and have a proper seat with and proper food. Only BA perhaps offers a better J class from Europe and that’s only because they inherited British Mediterranean A321’s with the nice Business class seats.

  31. While they don’t have the best hars product, MEA is the only way to go when flying to Beirut. The soft product (especially the food) makes you feel like you’re at Lebanon before you’re there. You also gotta spend at least several days in Lebanon (though I may be bias 😛 I’m Saudi but I’ve been there so much that it feels like a second home). Contrary to the news, it’s definitely safe and the people are open and welcoming..they also got amazing culture (Lebanese cuisine is to die for and Fairuz is the de facto ruler of Lebanon, uniting the country with her magnificent voice). I’ve flown MEA many times and enjoyed every year single flight I’ve taken with them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *