Plane Crashes in Lagos: Two Lebanese On Board

Is it just me or are we just everywhere? Lebanese people never seem to escape a tragedy.

A plane carrying 153 people plunged into a residential area in Lagos, Nigeria yesterday. All 153 were presumed dead.

Minister of External affairs Adnan Mansour just confirmed that the plane carried two Lebanese, an engineer named Nadine Chidiac and a man named Roger Awad.

The cause of the crash of the Dana Air Boeing MD83 plane was unclear but emergency officials said the cockpit recorder had been located and handed over to police.

May the victims rest in peace.

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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.

Off to France and Spain

I’ve never traveled before. Ever. Unless you count that brief two day trip I took to Damascus last December and the one before to Northern Syria in July.

Well, if you do, let me tell you this: if you don’t go to your destination in an plane, then you haven’t really “traveled.” At least that’s how I understand it to be.

But I digress.

In a few hours, I will be taking my very first airplane ride to Southern France where I will spend four days before heading out to Spain for a thirteen day excursion.

I’m definitely excited. But also quite anxious. It could be that I haven’t packed yet. I just look at the suitcase and decide there’s still time.

My stay in Spain will involve three cities: Toledo, Madrid and Sevilla. No Barcelona for me, sadly. But I guess there’s a time for everything. And with a Schengen on my passport, it’ll be easier to go there some other time.

While in Spain, I will be participating in the international Catholic Youth Day, formally known as JMJ: Journee Mondiale de la Jeunesse, which will be an opportunity for me to meet the pope – although I have low hopes about actually “meeting” him unless you consider spotting someone in a sea of a million people “meeting.”

While I’m definitely not the most religious of people, I think this will serve as an opportunity for me to meet lots of new people. Let me tell you a secret though, my group is going to miss out on most of the religion sessions and we’ll be going touring the cities we’re in. Awesome, right?

France should be great as well. I’m not doing the cliche France trip of going to Paris and staying there for the whole vacation, which I honestly would have loved to do – there’s just something about Paris, right? My French stay will give me an opportunity to practice my dying French skills. Yes, AUB, I blame you.

A woman in my travel group is of Argentinian origins and she was giving us Spanish lessons the other day in order to get around in Spain. Apparently the people who speak something other than Spanish are rare over there. Who would’ve thought? Needless to say, only one sentence got stuck in my head. And no, it’s not good morning or good evening.

“No habla espagnol, habla inglese?” will be my motto for the upcoming two weeks. I’m sure you can deduce what it means quite easily.

As for now, I’ll leave you and hope you come to read the posts that I’ve written and scheduled to be posted. There will be a book reviews, a short story split in seven parts, among other things… And if I get the chance to tell you how my French and Spanish adventures are going, well, why not, I guess.