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).

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?

MEA Flight Number 427, Dubai – Beirut: Broken Tables and TVs, Dirty Floor, Bad Customer Service

Hussein Dajani is like any other Lebanese expat who feels a belonging to home. His airline of choice is to go and see his land and family is non-other than his country’s own Middle East Airlines (MEA). Why not support your country’s company that’s supposedly among the world’s top airliners?

Once he boarded flight number 427, taking him from Dubai to Beirut, Dajani felt something was wrong. The scorching heat of Dubai was blowing full force inside the plane. There was no AC. He figured it was a glitch. But when the AC refused to start, he knew something was wrong. As the plane took off, his attention turned to other things. Some of the tables were broken. The entertainment system in the plane was all messed up. He looked around and noticed the plane was seriously dirty. Looking in front of him, he saw a safety leaflet. He opened the safety leaflet and there was a chewing gum sticking it together.

Dajani was outraged. He called for the hostess to see what was wrong. Instead of being calming and reassuring, the hostess was patronizing in typical Lebanese ways “ya 7ayete, ya albe….” So he decided to take it into his own hands. He went around and started to interview people on the airplane. He wasn’t the only one who was suffering on the flight. In business class, he met with minister Jihad Azour who also thought the flight was all kinds of wrong. They exchanged contact information to pursue the matter.

Once he landed, Dajani took it to MEA’s Facebook page. Even though he found response from people who shared his ordeal, MEA ignored him. They eventually deleted his Facebook posts and banned him from their page.

Today, Marcel Ghanem’s Kalem el Neis and MTV’s Enta 7or are interested in pursuing the matter. I’ve decided to help Dajani as well. Why do I want to do that? Because Lebanese companies trampling on their customers needs to stop. We, as people, have become used to horrible customer service that we take it as part of the package. This shouldn’t be acceptable. Buying a product or a service doesn’t mean you need to put up with typical Lebanese mentality of “dabber 7alak” as soon as the purchase is fulfilled.

If MEA didn’t know the plane was in bad condition, the least they can do is issue an apology and a refund. If MEA knew about the plane’s condition, then that’s way worse.

Sure, other airlines experience such problems as well. It is not out of the ordinary. But other airlines assume responsibility as well. I don’t judge MEA based on that flight – after all, they are rated very well. But I judge them on how they handled it afterwards. You cannot simply ban a person who’s complaining from your Facebook page and expect no response whatsoever. You simply can’t offer such horrible service to people and expect them not to talk back.

It gets worse. While interviewing people, someone told Dajani he overheard the crew saying this plane should have been put out of service a while back for repairs and maintenance. Then why wasn’t it? Why was it still used for transporting people if they knew it was in bad shape? Or do the lives of people not matter in front of a money? Or are we seeking another national tragedy to feel relevant?

MEA might have lots of good publicity. But it takes one scandal to put it way back. I’m already reconsidering using MEA for my flight this summer. And no, that doesn’t make me unpatriotic.

I’ll leave you with a few videos and pictures.