Middle East Airlines (MEA) Responds Regarding Flight 427

For the sake of being fair, MEA responded regarding what happened on flight 427, which I told you about yesterday. In a Facebook statement, they said the following:

To our fans, customers and readers alike,

In the past week or so, videos and pictures have been circulated on the web pointing out problems customers have faced on a couple of MEA flights. They included service quality issues such as an out of use seat and a dysfunctional display unit amongst others. These videos and pictures created with the intention of raising awareness about MEA’s customer service, and which have caused others to provide valuable comments and feedback, have been taken on-board whole heartedly.

Anyone who flies regularly will probably have experienced at some time or another that service on an airline can vary from flight to flight. As such, our company’s priority is to strive to deliver a consistent service across the board. The best way to provide this consistency in our view is to listen to customers’ feedback addressing their issues whenever possible, to implement the latest technologies and systems throughout the company as they become available, and finally to undertake all our usual measures to assess consistency through thorough quality control of flight safety, in-flight services, entertainment and overall passenger comfort.

Here at MEA, we feel it is our duty not only to our customers, but to the country as a whole to accurately represent our nation by reflecting our reputation for outstanding hospitality in every aspect of the service we provide as an airline. Currently, our fleet is being expanded as some may already know from our recent campaign “5000 Mabrouk” where we unveiled our brand new A320 aircraft. We’re expecting two more aircraft to be delivered in coming months. We have also finished planning the new cargo center which will be spread over 20,000 sq. m. of land, will contain a hangar with a 5,000 sq. m. capacity for exports and another 10,000 sq. m. hangar for imported goods, in addition to a large parking lot.

In light of the videos we have seen, the comments provided in social forums and the valuable feedback we are receiving online, we are glad to announce that we will be increasing our presence in various social media to provide dynamic interaction with our customer base worldwide. While we encourage everyone to describe their experience on MEA flights through social media and contact us by whichever means available, we’d like to remind our customers that the most direct means of communication for requests and complaints to be handled effectively within the shortest timeframe is by emailing saader@mea.com.lb (Customer Services Department).

Sincerely,
The MEA Team

As I said in my post regarding the matter, I refused to crucify MEA, as some were doing, for what happened on the flight. I’m sure it happens on other airlines as well. But I blamed them on the way they handled things. This is a step in the right direction. I hope they continue with it and it doesn’t become another Lebanese “saff 7ake” as they say.

Based on many emails I got, as well as comments on other blogs that wrote about this story, many have not been happy customers with MEA. If Mr. Dajani’s story, despite some flaws in the way it was handled, has gotten them to be more aware, then I’m one happier person. And in the long run, if MEA truly ups their game, I’m sure they’d be a happier company as well.

In the age of Facebook, twitter and blogging, Lebanese customers need to know that they have a stronger voice than before and that they can speak up in case something out of line happens. Odds are they will get a response. Good job MEA. Crisis averted?

20 thoughts on “Middle East Airlines (MEA) Responds Regarding Flight 427

  1. Classic PR response:

    They acknowledged the problem, apologised (sorta), offered a new way forward and then sought to close down any more negative social media comments/feedback by directing future queries to a company email address and not an open forum like FB or a blog.

    Reply
    • I’m sure people will still do both: email and nag on FB, which is what needs to be done. As I said, this is a good sign – that they actually acknowledged the problem to begin with is unLebanese-like of companies – but it’s nothing if nothing changes.

      Reply
  2. Typical MEA….ignore customer, talk corporate lingo….

    The least they could have done is throw an apology for the inconvenience to the passengers showing that they at least care…and please don’t get into social media….your getting it all wrong….

    SUPER FAIL!

    Reply
  3. “[Taking comments] on-board whole heartedly” isn’t enough MEA! I’m kind of disappointed with their word. I expected them to say: “We’re expanding our maintenance team in regards to the broken tables and co.” I expected them to say: “Customers who have been treated rudely are kindly requested to report to our complaint department (or link) and give us names of the crew that behaved unprofessionally.” I expected them to say: “We will do our best to make it up to all those who were disappointed with one or many of our flights.”
    I don’t care about how many aircrafts they bought to increase their fleet! With an unprofessional and rude crew, I wouldn’t reserve a seat on any.
    But as usual, it’s all words and no real action plan, let alone action 3al 7ell…

    Reply
    • I didn’t expect them to say anything so the fact that they did is a pretty big step. Lebanese companies are new at this. They’re slowly finding out that what they do now has consequences. And these consequences are far-reaching. So let them learn. Maybe one day we’ll get the response we want.

      Reply
      • Yeah ok but that’s not what I meant. When a company like MEA releases a statement such as the one above, you’d expect them to say something meaningful and not just make it another PR stunt to calm things down. This letter is a perfect example of how they’re doing their best to avoid the repercussions of their lack of professionalism & you’re making it easy for them till “one day we’ll get the response we want.” This is like reprimanding a child. If you’re lineant with them, they’ll never learn.
        Like MEA said, it is not a question of airline. It’s a matter of national identity as well. They represent Lebanon and that comes with a big responsibility. I think they shouldn’t get off the hook so easily. We’re not living in a country where we lack educated people or managers, or means to research your competition. If you don’t want to fire your people, train them. Promise us that at least. But no.
        I mean given the many disastrous incidents we’ve heard from friends and co-workers, the LEAST they could have done was release a statement. However the number of planes they’re getting & what kind of hangars they’re using is the least of my worries and yeah I don’t want to hear about it when your crew is being utterly rude to us! On one of my flights from Dubai to Beirut, the flight attendant yelled at a person because he didn’t hear her ask “chicken or meat?” WTF!
        Besides, without proper maintenance all of these new equipments will go to waste so… It’s not about high expectations. It’s about professionalism. And here again, they missed it.

        Reply
        • As I said, Lebanese companies are new at this. I don’t think a company has ever released a PR statement in reply to customer complaints. Ever. So this is where I’m coming from.
          The content of the statement can be improved, of course, but this is not the time to be nit-picky, I think.

    • Agree with Lynxette on this. I would go actually one step further. When I’m paying for a non-budget airline, then there are certain basics I expect. This is what I have been promised and this is what I have paid for. IF for any reason, these basics are not available, then I expect some kind of compensation. Compensation in any form can help relieve customer frustration. Examples of compensation are: 50% refund of ticket price, upgrading customer to business, air mile credit for next flight, etc.
      From all that I have heard and read, no type of compensation was allocated to the disgruntled customers. If I were on the flight, I would have basically asked for my money back!

      Reply
      • Of course you should get compensation. And in any other scenario/country, you probably would have gotten refunded. But, again, this is Lebanon and things like this happen all the time without companies owning up. This is MEA trying, albeit barely, but still trying.

        Reply
  4. I have so much heart for MEA, but their brand strategy is completely off base. There’s a drastic need for a brand refresh and new positioning and I’m not quite sure why they aren’t aware of how profitable that would be.

    In regards to customer service, I think they handled it as best they could. To “ellefares” point, “Lebanese companies are new at this.” It takes time, but there are positive signs. I actually can’t believe I’m being so optimistic about a Lebanese topic for once :-)

    Reply
    • I think the more companies are interactive with customers, the more they’re likely to bring in business. MEA looks to be on that track, but again this is a Lebanese company so we don’t know exactly how they will move forward.

      Reply
  5. broken seats are the least of MEA’s problems they need to end the stupid sectarian hiring + start hiring real hostesses not people with attitude! their service is horrid! i have never left a MEA flight happy, ever!

    Reply
  6. This message goes out to our proud Lebanese National Airline, Middle East Airlines – Air Liban, and to media, bloggers, social media fanatics, Lebanese nationals in and out of Lebanon, and friends who supported me with my cause.

    1- Thank you. Thank you for listening and for acting.

    2- The posts which I put on social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, and Google+) on May 3rd, 2012 and became a “campaign” later on taking into consideration the hype they took, were not for any political / religious / or personal agenda. They were simply because of personal frustration. I envisioned doing what I did as the best way to bring MEA’s attention to the drawbacks that were taking place (especially that I have addressed them on several occasions via calls and emails to MEA).
    Being Lebanese and proud of our Lebanese National Airline gave me the right to do what I did. Instead of talking, I decided to put my nagging words into action. And time proved that what I did worked.
    Be it luck, I don’t know, but what matters is that:
    – My / people’s voices were heard,
    – MEA proved to be a responsible and caring brand because they acted upon it. And this is something NEW in Lebanon and the Arab world! RESPECT for that! Well done!

    I am motivated by pride, to regain pride in my country and its gems. I am motivated because I see other countries climb faster than Lebanon and go farther than Lebanon. And these countries do not have half the natural and human resources we, Lebanese, have. They do not have half the education and culture that we have. But what they have is motivation, inspiration, and dedication.

    Taking into consideration MEA’s positive and supporting response and action (yes, for those of you who care and have been asking me, MEA did unblock me from accessing their FB page) and as a show of good will and faith, all posts which have comprised my “awareness campaign” of MEA’s lack of quality and consistency have been taken down on May 9, 2012.

    But I do hope MEA will build on this faith and not let us, its loyal customers and fans, down.

    Reply

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