This is a trip report from San Antonio, TX
to Beirut, Lebanon via Atlanta and Paris-CDG
on Delta / Air France and Middle East Airlines
I have most of my family in Lebanon and it had been about 4 years since I had been back so I decided to bite the bullet and purchase my ticket through the Air France website back in late May. The trip was to be a much needed 2 week vacation and break from work. Taking 2 weeks off at a corporate job, at least in the USA, always seems like a big undertaking but luckily my bosses and co-workers were ok with it and I was all set. I was really looking forward to it.
When I had purchased the ticket, the situation in Lebanon was decent, it wasn’t great but it was “normal”. In mid July, about a month and half before my scheduled departure, I began to get a little nervous since the situation started to show some potential instability, especially with the unrest and protest between the Lebanese people against the corrupt government (the trash situation was the tipping point for the locals and they had had enough)
Anyway, I stuck through and was anxiously awaiting and counting down the days before I was able to travel.
I had looked at the big ME3 websites to see if they had some good options and prices from either DFW
but I didn’t find anything that reasonable. Their prices were more than double what AF
was showing just for regular Y seats and some of the timing did not make a lot of sense either, I would have to basically spend the night at DXB
so I skipped that altogether.
Flight 1 of 3
Tuesday September 2 2015
1641 / AF
Departure - 10.54AM CST
Arrival - 2.20PM EST
My girlfriend had dropped me off at the SAT
airport around 9.00AM and the lines were really short. It was funny when I went to the Delta counter, the agent looked at my passport and ticket information and said, “oh, that’s funny, my husband was born in Lebanon”. The Lebanese emigrants are all over the world…
We chatted a little bit and then she printed out all 3 of my boarding passes and checked my bags all the way to Beirut.
Security was very quick, with only 3 people in front of me, I made it to the gate area in under 5 minutes.
The airport was really quiet that morning and there was not a whole lot going on. I saw very little activity, probably just 2 Southwest planes ready to depart and that was about it. I walked around for a little just killing time and then went to my gate, A3
Around 9.45AM, the gate area started to fill up and it looked like it was going to be a full flight.
When boarding was announced, everyone began lining up at the gate. One of the things I really liked about Delta’s boarding process was the fact that the gate agent would call out each person’s name after scanning their boarding pass.
“Enjoy your flight Mr. xxx, thank you for flying Delta Ms. xyz” etc...
I thought that was very professional and definitely puts a personal touch to the flying experience.
Boarding process was pretty smooth and the flight was full, maybe with the exception of 2 seats. I had the window seat and there was an older man next to me who just did not seem like he was in a good mood. We basically just said hi to one another and that was it. I think the legroom was good, for me at least (I’m 5’9”) but I really wish the seats were just a little bit wider, they seemed rather tight (or I have can lose a few pounds and maybe that will help out!)
I took a little nap and snapped some pictures during the flight and then ate some peanuts. The flight was nice and quiet. We arrived in Atlanta on time and then had to wait a few minutes to cross a couple of runways.
I haven’t been to too many airports but ATL
is definitely one of my most favorite large airports. It’s very easy to get around in and it seems to be well organized.
There was a few hours to kill so I enjoyed just walking around the airport and checking out a couple of the terminals and even took the train just for the fun of it. It was definitely good exercise walking back and forth especially since I was going to be on a plane for 8+ hours.
Flight 2 of 3
Departure - 5:45PM
Arrival - 8:10AM
They had made an announcement a the gate that the flight to CDG
was going to be full one. I had paid a little bit extra when I purchased my tickets to get the first couple of rows of Y, which would allow a quicker exiting of the plane once we arrived to CDG
. Whenever I have flown through CDG
in the past, especially connecting to BEY
, it always seems like even with a 2 hour connection time, it is still cutting it close. I was curious about getting a Premium Economy seat, but the price was much higher and I had a tough time justifying it. Maybe one day in the future I’ll find a good deal…
Boarding seemed like it took a while and then once on the plane, people were just standing up in aisles for a while they didn’t seem like there was any sense of urgency or courtesy and I guess the crew was ok with it until they made the announcement for everyone to take their seats.
The seats were decent, but again, seemed like a tight squeeze. I usually try to get an aisle seat on the longer flights since I can get up and walk around and not have to wake anyone up. Having the E seat also means that only one person will be wanting to get out from the inside instead of 2. I remember years ago when AF
only had 9 across on their 777’s instead of 10, those were good days and definitely made for a more comfortable trip.
I do not remember the exact time that we finally departed but I believe it was around 20 minutes late because I was getting a little nervous that I was going to be cutting close for my ME flight to BEY
I tried to sleep during the flight but I wasn’t able to but I watched a couple of movies and listened to some music and then ate. The AF
crew were really nice and very friendly and the overall flight was a good experience.
We landed at CDG
and it took a long time to taxi and the plane parked away from the gates. Paying a little bit extra for the front of Y seats was really worth it since even then, it still took a long time to deplane and there was still a whole bunch of people in the back.
We had to get on a bus and again, we were just waiting on the tarmac, even with the bus being full. I had no idea what the wait was but you could tell that people were beginning to lose their patience. After about 10 minutes with nothing happening and no one else getting on the bus, the bus drove for what seemed like another 5-10 minutes to Terminal 2E.
Everybody got off the bus frustrated and in a panic mode, trying to figure out where they need to go. We went through the security line, which was moving quickly despite the large number of people and then people were looking at the monitors. My ME flight was going to be in Terminal 2C, and it showed that it had begun boarding...I had to take another bus to that terminal and I was getting a bit worried if I was going to make the flight. I knew that there were a couple of other flights to BEY
after in case I missed this one but I just hoped that I did not have to deal with that.
Finally made it to the terminal and to the gate, which was all the way at the end and it seemed like I was the last person to show up. I gave the agent my boarding pass and made it on the plane and sat in my seat and was trying to catch my breathe again!
Flight 3 of 3
Thursday September 3rd
Sorry I didn't get the registration on this one
Departure Time - 10:00AM
Arrival Time - 3:15PM
I had the A seat which is the preferred seat when flying into BEY
as most of the flights will land from the north with Beirut and the mountains to the left of the plane so it makes for some nice scenery and photo ops.
The plane was only about 60% full and I was lucky that the B seat next to me open. The ME flight attendants were in their relatively new uniforms, which I read that they had just changed to those back in April this year.
We waited for about 20 minutes and there were other passengers that were still coming in, apparently they were connecting and were delayed.
After almost 24 hours total of travel time, we finally arrived in Beirut and it was a great feeling. The overall trip was good and thankfully there were no issues and no major delays.
I really enjoyed the professionalism of the Delta gate agents in SAT
, the sights and sounds of the Atlanta airport, the laid back but professional attitude of the AF
crew and the ME crew. I did not care too much for the lack of organization in the layout of the CDG
airport compared to ATL
is such a huge and impressive place that I really hope they work on improving the whole process with connections and all.
airport is small but it is nice and has come a long way over the years. I am glad that they are hiring more younger people, and women, as passport control agents compared to the old grumpy old men that were so common years ago.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this report, I hope that you enjoyed it.
Below are some pictures from the airports and aircraft:
This is the gate area of SAT
, pretty quiet and empty at 9AM:
Departure and Arrivals at SAT
The eating establishments near the gate areas:
Not a whole lot going on:
Southwest Airlines ready to depart:
This was the plane arriving and ready to head back to ATL
Decent leg room but could use more elbow/width room:
We are ready for takeoff, goodbye SAT
, will see you in a couple of weeks:
I really like how quiet the MD
-90 is with no engine at the wing:
snack, peanuts and water:
Just landed in ATL
, I saw this AF
aircraft and I am guessing this would be my flight to CDG
Always busy at ATL
, I am fascinated by the number of aircraft movements taking place there:
Arriving at gate:
Deplaining - Comfort Plus seats - They didn't look any more comfortable than the normal Y seats but DL
gives the option to upgrade to these - Anyone know what the difference is?
Yes, this is Delta Country:
But also WN
seems to have a pretty large operation going on. It is still weird for me to see SW
planes at ATL
, will take some time to get used to::
Amazing departure schedule at ATL
Beautiful international terminal:
Air France ready for CDG
IFE - Those screens really need to be upgraded...
leg room, not bad
Menu, I had the chicken and some red wine, it was really good.
Somewhere over the Atlantic, sorry for the blurry output, I was not going to use my flash
Breakfast was served when we were getting close to CDG
. They also did server an apple pie type pastry but I did not get to take a picture of it, my stomach and my mouth were a lot quicker than my desire to take a picture of it.
This is MEA
Cabin during boarding process:
Waiting to depart CDG
Taxiing heading to runway for departure:
ME IFE, the screen was larger and newer than the one on the AF
ME Leg room, really good, and a bonus that no one was next to me:
pillow and blanket with the logo, the cedar, the national tree of Lebanon:
Cedar Wings in flight magazine showing the crews new uniforms: