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Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 6:11 am
by patroni
Hello,

Last week I flew together with a colleague to Beirut. It was our first visit to Lebanon and we were quite curious what to expect:

17.October 2003, ME218 Frankfurt-Beirut
Scheduled 14:10-19:05
Actual 14:30-19:15
Airbus A321 F-ORMI (s/n 1977)


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Photo © Charles Falk



The Checkin staff was from Lufthansa even though they were not at the usual LHStar Alliance Counters. It didn't take very long and we had our boarding passes for seats 6 A and C in Business Class, called "Front Class". After we got rid of our bags, we sent some 45min on the terrace until we saw our aircraft, ME's newest A321 F-ORMI, only delivered in May 2003, arriving. It had to wait quite a while until it could cross the northern runway to taxi to its off-terminal parking position.

Boarding at Gate B42 was well on time and we were brought to the aircraft by bus, getting a nice view on the airside of Terminal 2. Once inside the aircraft we were quite surprised by the very nice and spacious interior. I had expected convertible Business Class seats in a 2-3-layout like used e.g. by Lufthansa or Swiss on the 320 series. But ME has real longhaul Business Class seats in a 2-2 layout, with huge legroom, legrests, PTV with big screens in the armrests. The seats are made by Recaro and offer all electronic "bells and whistles" one could imagine. Our seats were at the first Emergency exits, which had the drawback that there was only one proper window, but this was more than compensated by the enormous legroom (couldn't touch the seat in front of me with the toe tips...).
Given the fact that MEs A321 only carry some 150 passengers, the amount of flight attendants was very high : I counted at least 5 stewardesses and stewards which all made a very professional yet friendly impression.

As far as I could see our flight was fully booked so it took a while until the last passengers were on board and we were finally pushed back. What followed was a sightseeing tour of the airport : First crossing both runways at the eastern side, then taxiing alongside the US Air Base and the hangars of Condor and Aero Lloyd, finally crossing both runways again at the western side to take off on Runway 18. We could enjoy this tour with a welcome Champagne in our hand.

Once airborne we turned towards Nuremberg, then Linz/Austria and onward via Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. Soon we got a menu card (a nice feature which is getting less and less in todays cost-sensitive airline business..) and saw our choice of dinner :
Starter:
Darne de Saumon et Crevettes Cocktail
Smoked salmon and Crevettes ith Cocktail sauce
Entree:
Supreme de Volaille á la Crème (Chicken)
or
Filet de Perche Sauce Tomate (Fish)
or
Tournedos Sauce Demi-Glace (Beef)
all served with Brocoli, Carrots, Potatoes, Rice, Salad,
followed by a small cheese selection, a desert and fruits

I took the fish (don't know what "perche" means in English, but it was very good!) and enjoyed a tasty Lebanese White wine with it.

Only too soon we were on Descent and the flight attendants gave us a small box with two pieces of "bakhlava" (spelling?) which are sweets with nuts and pistaches and a CD-Rom with impressions from Lebanon. Very nice, but without a computer I could only watch the Lebanon information when I was already at home...

On approach we could see the city lights of Beirut on our left side before we gently touched down on the relatively new runway 18, which has been built into the water to avoid aircraft flying over the city centre.

We disembarked at a jet bridge and went to immigration. As we only stayed in Lebanon for less than 48 hours, we only needed a free transit visa. Again, similar to the departure in Frankfurt, our passports were thoroughly checked for any Israeli visa. Nevertheless the whole procedure went fairly quick soon we were in the Arrivals hall, waiting for our bags.

The stay in Beirut itself was a very positive surprise. The city is very lively, with nice Cafes, Restaurants, shops... far from the usual clichees which still exist. I especially loved walking on the Corniche, Beirut's boulevard at the sea front. Unfortunately we had no time to see other parts of the country, but we will definitely come back to see more of Lebanon!

Too soon we had to get back to the airport for our return flight:

19.October 2003, ME217 Beirut-Frankfurt
Scheduled 09:25-12:45
Actual 09:30-12:45
Airbus A320 F-OHLO (s/n 760)


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Photo © Markus Michalski



We checked in about 90 minutes before departure and got seats 4 A and C. During the remaining time we had a look at the airport and noted its very modern layout. At this time of the day, the terminal was not very crowded: There was a ME flight to Istanbul and a delayed Royal Jordanian A320 to Amman, other than that not many flights. After a short while our flight was ready for boarding. The aircraft was F-OHLO, the last remaining A320 in the fleet which will soon be replaced by ME's 6th new A321. Once on board, the difference to the A321 from the outbound flight was clearly visible : The Business class seats were in grey leather, had less legroom, no PTV, no leg rests, however still the 2-2 configuration.

Again this flight seemed to be pretty full and it took a while until we were pushed back and started our way to runway 15, passing several TMA Boeing 707, a private Boeing 777 (VP-BRH?) and an UTA Boeing 727. Takeoff towards the sea and soon we were on our way to chilly Frankfurt (Temperature in Beirut was appr. 26°C). This time we got a brunch :
Brunch:
Orange Juice
Labneh - Cheese

Omelette with pepper, beef Frankfurters (?), Potatoes, Brocoli, grilled tomato
or
Knafeh (Lebanese speciality, quite tasty!)

Marmelade, Jam, Croissants, rolls, fruits

On top of the menu it said "Cedar Class" in contrast to "Front Class" on the previous flight. Does anyone know what this difference means?

Similar to the dinner on the outbound flight, the catering was very good, served by (again) a very friendly crew.
The movie shown on board (TV screens every few rows) was the "Italian Job" with Donald Sutherland and a blonde girl whose name I already forgot...
Anyway, we made our way towards Europe above thick layers of clouds. Somewhere over Austria we were overtaken by an Iranair 747SP...unfortunately too far to get a good photo. The flight took over 4 hours (1h time difference Lebanon-Germany) but it appeared much shorter than that and soon we saw Frankfurt airport on our left side. A tight circle around Mainz and some minutes later we touched down on Runway 25L and found ourselves at a jetbridge soon afterwards. Next to us was an Aeroflot IL96 (RA-96007).

Well, this was my report about my first flights on Middle East Airlines. As a conclusion, I found the aircraft to be in excellent shape and very comfortable, the crew was very friendly and did an excellent job. Overall product quality was better than what I experienced on my similar business class flights on Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and KLM (to Athens and Bucharest). All in alll a big thumbs up for ME!
Beirut itself exceeded all my expectations by far and is already on my list for a longer return visit!

This was (again) a pretty long report, I hope that at least some of you were brave and continued to read  Big grin

Best regards,

Thomas


[Edited 2003-10-26 22:30:28]

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 6:38 am
by Sabena332
Hi Tom,

thanks a lot for the interesting report, I am glad you enjoyed MEA and your stay in Beirut, sounds like ME is a really good airline, especially the selection of food sounds fantastic. I just returned from a trip to Dubai with forum member SQ325 (see my report for details) and I also miss the really nice weather that we had there.

Patrick

[Edited 2003-10-26 22:39:44]

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (

Posted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:33 pm
by YUL2010
I'm glad to hear that you liked Lebanon. It is in fact a marvelous country to visit. You should go during the summer though. The weather is very nice, and that's when all the Lebanese who left the country during the war, return to visit the families. I try to go every summer. It's truly a party city!!
MEA is growing for sure. I never encountered rude staff. I can't wait to try their new A330.

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2003 2:00 am
by copenhagenboy
Very interesting information about Beirut. Me and a friend are planning to go to Lebanon in April next year when Snowflake (affiliate to SAS) are starting their flights from Copenhagen.

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2003 2:44 am
by MCMAHONSMR
I have seen the pictures of ME's new 321 interior. It is quite impressive. Beirut isn't on the top of my list for places to visit but I am dying to get on their new 321s and also on the BD 332.....hopefully sometime soon!

thanks for a great report.


RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2003 4:18 am
by FLIEGER67
Hi,
"exotic" airline,"exotic" country, I enjoyed reading it.
Hope the political situation will be clearer and its much more interesting to go there in the future. It seems they do a real good job at MEA.
Thanks four your time to post it and share your impressions with us.
Regards,Markus (FLIEGER67)

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2003 4:43 am
by ba319-131
Hi Thomas,

Nice report,fancy a trip on MEA myself now,and a visit to Beirut.

Thanks again.

Rgds

Mark

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2003 10:08 am
by Marco
On top of the menu it said "Cedar Class" in contrast to "Front Class" on the previous flight. Does anyone know what this difference means?

I believe that Cedar class is the name of the new ME business class. It is currently being introduced in all of the new airbus aircraft!

Great report by the way, and yes Beirut is a beautiful city!

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 6:32 am
by cedarjet
At MEA in the 70s and 80s it was First, Cedar and Economy. In those days when Business Class was a new innovation (thank you Qantas), everyone (except Qantas) gave the new product a fancy name - Clipper Class (Pan Am), Marco Polo Class (Cathay) et al. MEA had Cedar Class.

It was dropped when the airline went to a two-class configuration on the A310s and 707s, and the premium class was renamed Front Class (which I thought was a useless name). Nice to see Cedar Class being reincarnated, it's a nice sounding product and has an obvious link to the airline's logo and the national emblem of the country it serves.

Looking forward to visiting Lebanon again soon, and I'll fly MEA if I can get a seat (or will it be Malev again?).

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:34 am
by BA
Glad you enjoyed MEA and Lebanon.

As Marco said, Cedar Class is the new business class product MEA launched with its new A321s and A330s.

The A321 you flew on when you flew to Beirut had Cedar Class while the A320 you flew one when you flew FROM Beirut had the old Front Class.



Regards

Thanks Thomas

Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:00 pm
by Amir
A nice report!
I have been in Lebanon several times and the last visit was on October 16th 2003 , unfortunately i had only limited time and only visited Baalbak (a must!) and came by road from DAM.

Best regads
Amir

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2003 12:52 am
by EurostarVA
Patroni,

Great to hear you enjoyed flying MEA and had a good time in Lebanon! I might go on vacation there next summer. Did you go there for business (Cargo-airline related  Smile/happy/getting dizzy ?

Imad, thank you for putting me on your "Most-respected Users" list!

EurostarVA

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2003 1:49 am
by TriStar500
Patroni,
Thanks for an interesting report about a small but seemingly very professional and high quality airline.  Big thumbs up

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2003 2:11 am
by MEA310
Great to hear that you enjoyed your travel with MEA&most of all your stay in Lebanon! & for the spelling it is "Beklawa"(pretty close),&the private B777 you've spotted is definitely VP-BRH.

MEA310

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2003 8:35 am
by Bicoastal
Did they allow smoking on the flight? If so, I'd have to avoid the airline.

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2003 9:50 am
by BA
Bicoastal,

Did they allow smoking on the flight? If so, I'd have to avoid the airline.

No they don't allow smoking.

MEA has been a non-smoking airline for many years now.

Regards

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 2:48 pm
by kevin752
Sounds like a nice flight. I have heard some greatthings about MEA in the past. I am glad that you had a nice flight on them.

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 6:40 pm
by trintocan
That is a great trip report. MEA sounds like a truly fabulous airline. It is great to hear that they are so top-notch notwithstanding its turbulent history which has seen so many of its planes destroyed in one way or another by war. War-scarred Lebanon seems to be making a good comeback too.

Thanks for that report.

TrintoCan.

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 6:53 pm
by PanAmerican
This was truely a good report. Nothing you get to read about every day!
Just imagine a movie being shown on LH A320s or the likes on a 4 hour flight  Nuts ! No way!
MEA seems like a great Airline in Cedar Class, probably in Economy it is better than the competition as well.

Thanx for sharing this report, Patroni.
 Smile/happy/getting dizzy

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 7:01 pm
by KAL744
Very great report to your MEA flight to BEY and back. Wish I could write reports like that!

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2003 5:37 am
by patroni
Hello again,

and a big Thank you for the very positive feed back!! I am glad that you liked my little report  Smile

Also thanks for the clarification regarding their Cedar Class... so it seems that the menu templates had been used the other way round, i.e. Front Class menu in Cedar Class (A321) and vv. And I have to say that I find the name "Cedar" much better than "front". A good brand name for a very good product!

I hope to be able to return to Lebanon soon as there is still so much more to see.

Cheers,

Thomas

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2003 11:42 pm
by CPH-R
Out of curiosity, which European airlines flies to BEY? I think AF is one, but are there others?

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2003 11:51 pm
by Sabena332
Out of curiosity, which European airlines flies to BEY? I think AF is one, but are there others?

Look here, this thread provides excellent information about BEY:

https://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/1255276/

Patrick

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 1:39 pm
by BA
Why thank you Sabena332.  Smile

Regards

RE: Frankfurt-Beirut Vv. On Middle East Airlines (MEA)

Posted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:32 pm
by USAFHummer
Great report...MEA sounds like a great airline...I'd love to try them sometime....never heard anything bad about them, and those seats look really comfy!!!

Greg