March 05, 2014 Lebanon Middle East

Time for a Change: Middle East Airlines New Inflight Menu

As long as I can remember, MEA served up carton menu cards to passengers displaying the inflight menu. Oh and that's not forgetting to same old images of Byblos Port or Baalbek in the background... But this has changed... It's 2014 and thankfully MEA has decided to join the hype of technology-boom by upgrading its website, creating a mobile version of the site as well as... hold your breath people... A NEW MENU design and layout...
Flying to Dubai onboard an A320, I was positively shocked to see a new menu distributed on the plane. I received a colorful A3 paper that looks like a brochure or a newspaper displaying the menu as well as some travel tips and fun facts. Fresh and clear, it is appealing to the extent that you would want to read it all.
Many don't agree with me and continue on bashing MEA, but I personally respect this company and the efforts it is putting into its business. Expensive fares? Maybe. But both the food and service are improving drastically. I have said it more than once - I've had one of the best knefe's ever, onboard MEA and the meals prepared in Beirut Airport's kitchens are up to fine standards. When you travel with other airlines, you'll understand what I mean.
Yellow, grey, light green and red freshen up this newsprint. On top, is the menu displayed horizontally. Drinks, appetizers, main course and dessert in three different languages. French and English on one side and Arabic on the other. Under that is a grey paragraph describing the brunch. All on a thick paper, that's easy to hold.

  Seventy percent of the flyer is dedicated to travel news: Fun travel facts, 5 travel musts, story of a Lebanese knefeh, "did you know" facts, optimal use of limited space and a QR code to manage your booking and discover MEA news. Beautifully presented with logos, pictures and illustrations. On the Arabic side, you can see the menu, best ways of stretching on a plane, a feature on an artist (Samir Sayegh), knefeh story in Arabic, transportation recommendations and some quotes. Receiving the tray, I was impressed. It's been a while since I traveled in economy and what I saw today is equivalent to the standards served on business class on many other airlines leaving from Beirut like Alitalia, Turkish airlines and Lufthanza. A generous tray filled with four plates, bread, juice and water - A plate of cheese (halloum and kashkawan), fruit salad, croissant, French bread, Lurpak butter, Maccaw orange juice, Lebanese bread, Kassatly jam, a cup of water and a portion of Knefe - All of this with a stainless cutlery. Yes a stainless cutlery stamped with the MEA logo.

The Knefeh is impeccable: A two layered treat of warm cheese and pastry saturated with sweet rose water syrup and decorated with some crushed pistachios sprinkled over the top. A masterpiece of Lebanese cuisine served onboard, prepared by skilled chefs on ground and filled with a pinch of Lebanese charm and love for a beautiful country. I enjoyed the quality of cheese used, the softness of the preparation, the adequate quantity of sweetness and the warmth of the mix. I've been ordering that for years now and experiencing the same unique taste. Bread and croissant on the other hand were not the freshest, on today's flight.

Their new individual water cups served with a tight closed aluminum lid also impressed me. Being a part of Skyteam has driven MEA to abide further by international standards, changing many things to the better. PS: Yes, they are produced in Cyprus cause no local company has the technology to produce them yet. Hold your horses people, this will change as soon as our local water companies will be ready to do it. While leaving the plane, I was able to grab a copy of the Business class menu, which has also been changed. No more pictures, but a simple classy menu with a single story of a Lebanese dish. But does it have to be so serious? They are traveling through business class; they are not actually in a business meeting... so why can't they also enjoy the colorful layout and news of the economy travelers.

Two remarks I'll mention:
  • Business class passengers have the right to be given a funky colorful menu as well
  • English and Arabic sides should be identical
  • A nice photo of the meal to come would be nice as will as blend-in perfectly in the newsletter. Passengers will mouth-water and know what to order
  • Humility is one of men best virtues. Dear "Made For Brands", this is a MEA menu not an advertising page. Your company's logo should be smaller, people will appreciate it more
Landing after 3:30hours of flight was my biggest surprise: A comment from an account called @meaifs on instagram asking me if I liked the new menu: Yes, believe it, MEA has a social account now and they do follow up. Can I scream and say how happy I am? What we need next is a decent customer service and a mobile application. Keep up the good work Middle East.
And a note to those who keep on bashing MEA: Enough! You should be proud of all what your country has, support it and promote it. This is how Lebanon will prosper. I'll mention again what I previously wrote on Facebook:
After years and years of waiting Sohat introduced to lebanon the water glass bottle in 2013. We used to drink Aqua Panna at restaurants without even mentioning its production destination. To date, no company in lebanon has the technology and manufacturing line to produce those plastic cups that follow international flying standards. It's a positive move.
As for the food, I would kindly ask you all to think again: I do travel minimum once a month and believe me when I say that food onboard MEA is good for airplane food.
Same food, maybe, but the portions are bigger, the choices are more varied and everything is beautifully presented like if it was business class on European short flights. Stainless cutlery served next to a selection of cheese, fruit salad, main fish, croissant, bread, butter and jam. The meals are fresh and smell good. I like and believe in what MEA offers and think that the future of our local aviation is promising.
Unity starts by believing in what we have and what we can achieve: Proudly made in Lebanon





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