March 23, 2012

Middle East Airlines - Time to Say it Outloud

For all of you out there who feel you have to fly MEA airlines because you have no other choice, and dread dealing with the unprofessional hostesses every time you step into the airplane, afraid of asking them for an extra pillow or blanket... worried about sitting on a non reclining chair, or get a seat where your TV screen is broken... among other details, here is your chance to say it, and say it out loud.
It should be the first thing reviewed since it's the gateway to the international world. Most of the time, it's my only choice... and since I enjoy traveling and discovering the world and reporting back to you... Flying MEA is a must. I say 'must' because I have no choice, we all don't have much of a choice... especially that it is the only local airline we have in Lebanon. So many things need to be changed. From the service, the hostesses, the food choice, the treatment... Instead of improving it's been deteriorating sadly. Simply because there is no competition. No local competitor available to create a threat or make them feel the heat... Since our choice is limited, we have to fly MEA, bite the dust and clap upon arrival to any city... Last summer I met a hostess who is the daughter of close friends of ours. The first question I asked her was, “Tell me, what is exactly the training you take to be accepted as a hostess?” Sadly, the answer was: Nothing, simple security procedures. Is that what a hostess is supposed to be doing? Security procedures? Or should she also be learning how to serve, deal and take care of the passengers with kindness and respect, and treating them as though they were checking into a five star hotel?
Any passenger flying business pays three times the normal price in order to receive the utmost comfort, luxury and service that air travel can provide. And it seems that MEA hasn’t learned the important tricks of the trade. Without justifying, I think it comes as a natural matter that you pay more to get more... Should we compare it with Qatar Airways, Emirates or even Air France and Turkish Airlines transporting you at a lower price with a better service?
Even though MEA is issuing a big profit, it’s an increasingly poor airline due to its sub-par service. And although MEA pilots are among the best on account of their training, there are various things that occur on any given MEA flight that are unacceptable:
  • Non-business passengers passing through the business section to use the toilets
  • Multiple meal choices are momentarily unavailable
  • Outdated movie selection and choice
  • Staff seems unprepared and lack service etiquette
  • Customer service and customer satisfaction suddenly cease existence
  • None of the hostesses speaks French or English decently. The famous phrase I hear most of the time when asking about the meal choice is :"Pasta 2aw djej 3ayne?" or "tu veux de l'eau?"
  • The green uniform of the hostesses are a tad too retro and unappealing
  • Soft drinks served in 2L bottles when all other airlines around the globe serve it in individual mini cans specially manufactured for the airline industry.
Back to my last flight... I waited for an hour for someone to take off the empty tray after I finished my meal, with no success, because the flight attendants were busy eating in the kitchen. That's besides the fact that the menu hasn’t been changed in roughly ten years, offering mild and tasteless edibles. As for the welcoming, smile and enthusiasm of the staff, I prefer not to talk about that since I will be a bit too rude. In flights up to three or four hours I wish I could see the staff smiling or happy to do their job: it's a bit frustrating. This is a slight review of the many encounters I have on every flight for the last five years. I have been traveling as a business passenger on MEA for a while now, so I could continue on writing and writing for hours, but unfortunately no one from the company seems to be even remotely interested. The management is happy that the company is generating profit and the story stops right here. Improvement is not a major issue since the flights are almost always fully booked.
Economy flights, at the price people are paying, are not acceptable if we compare them to another airline, like Emirates at the same price. How many times have you seen broken screens, broken music plugs or dirty magazines? And lately there seems to have been a revival of ridiculously uncomfortable chairs that don’t recline. Everything is taken for granted. All this would have stopped if MEA had some competition. A friend of mine traveling from Beirut to Dubai watched a whole movie looking at the screen of the passenger in front of his... as his was broken and the one next to him was not turning on! He said that he had a much more pleasant flight using Fly Dubai on the same trip a year back... at least he didn't expect to watch a movie!
A small conclusion: We are in 2012, with a huge market of competition, and airlines moving towards a five star service. Where doesMEA stand in this market? If it continues down this path, I don’t think it won't last very long. New planes? Good news... This is not enough!
I need to hear what you think? Share your experiences...
The latest updates: Things seems to be changing... MEA Business Class, MEA Cedar lounge, MEA Joins skyteam





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