Middle East Airlines

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About

Middle East Airlines (MEA) stands as a proud emblem of Lebanon and the Middle East’s aviation industry. Established in 1945, MEA has successfully navigated through decades of turbulence and conflict, emerging as a prominent carrier in the region. This article aims to take you on a journey through the rich history, remarkable growth, and enduring impact of Middle East Airlines, shedding light on its pivotal role in connecting cultures, bridging continents, and serving as a symbol of resilience and hope.

Founding and Early Years

The origins of Middle East Airlines can be traced back to 1945 when the airline was founded in Lebanon. It was initially established by Saeb Salam, Lebanon’s Prime Minister, who sought to create a national airline that would represent the nation and serve as a link between Lebanon and the world. The airline commenced its operations on May 31, 1945, with a single de Havilland Dragon Rapide aircraft that could carry just six passengers.

  1. The Birth of MEA

The initial years of Middle East Airlines were characterized by humble beginnings and a commitment to serving Lebanon and the Middle East. The airline primarily focused on providing essential domestic and regional services, connecting Beirut to various Middle Eastern destinations.

  1. The Era of Expansion

As Lebanon’s economy grew, so did MEA. In the 1950s and 1960s, the airline expanded its network to serve European destinations like Paris and London, thereby establishing itself as a bridge between the Middle East and the Western world. MEA became known for its commitment to quality service and passenger comfort.

  1. Modernization and Fleet Growth

MEA’s modernization efforts included the introduction of jet aircraft to its fleet. The airline acquired Boeing 720 and Boeing 707 aircraft, marking a significant advancement in its capabilities and service offerings. The addition of jet aircraft allowed MEA to extend its reach to more distant destinations.

  1. Regional Conflict and Resilience

The 1970s and 1980s were challenging times for MEA due to the Lebanese Civil War. The airline faced disruptions and damage to its infrastructure, but it demonstrated remarkable resilience by continuing to operate during the conflict. MEA’s resilience earned it international respect and recognition.

Key Features of Middle East Airlines

  1. Modern Fleet

MEA maintains a modern and efficient fleet of aircraft, including Airbus A330, A321, and A320 aircraft. These modern planes provide passengers with a comfortable and safe travel experience.

  1. In-Flight Service

The airline places a strong emphasis on the in-flight experience. Passengers can enjoy quality meals, entertainment, and a range of services designed to make their journey more comfortable.

  1. Cedar Class

MEA offers a premium cabin class called “Cedar Class,” which provides passengers with extra comfort and personalized services. This premium offering is designed to cater to travelers seeking an enhanced travel experience.

  1. SkyTeam Alliance

MEA is a member of the global SkyTeam Alliance, which allows passengers to access a vast network of destinations and benefit from a seamless travel experience, including coordinated schedules and shared services with partner airlines.

  1. Loyalty Program

Middle East Airlines offers a frequent flyer program called “Cedar Miles,” allowing loyal passengers to accumulate miles, earn rewards, and enjoy exclusive privileges, including upgrades and lounge access.

The Impact of Middle East Airlines

MEA has made a significant impact on Lebanon, the Middle East, and the global aviation industry. Here are some key ways in which the airline has influenced the region and beyond:

  1. Economic Contribution

Middle East Airlines has made a substantial economic contribution to Lebanon by stimulating tourism, supporting the travel industry, and generating jobs in various sectors related to aviation.

  1. Cultural Exchange

MEA has played a crucial role in promoting cultural exchange between Lebanon and the world. The airline has served as a bridge for people from different backgrounds, connecting them to diverse cultures and traditions.

  1. Resilience During Conflict

MEA’s unwavering commitment to operation during times of conflict earned it international respect and admiration. The airline’s ability to continue serving its passengers despite challenging circumstances has made it a symbol of hope and resilience.

  1. Regional Hub

Beirut, the capital of Lebanon and MEA’s primary hub, serves as an important regional center for both tourism and business. MEA’s services have facilitated regional travel and strengthened Lebanon’s position in the Middle East.

Challenges and Competition

Despite its rich history and enduring impact, MEA faces several challenges and competition in the regional and global aviation market:

  1. Regional Conflict: The Middle East is a region marked by political and security challenges, which can impact air travel. MEA must navigate these complexities to maintain its operations.

  2. Competition: The airline industry is highly competitive, with numerous carriers offering services within the region. MEA faces competition from both regional carriers and international airlines serving the Middle East.

  3. Economic Factors: Economic fluctuations, fuel price volatility, and currency exchange rate changes can affect an airline’s financial performance. MEA must adapt to changing economic conditions to remain competitive.

  4. Regulatory Challenges: Changes in aviation regulations and international agreements can impact the airline’s operations and cost structures. MEA must stay compliant and efficient in an ever-evolving regulatory environment.

The Future of Middle East Airlines

As MEA looks to the future, it is well-poised for continued success and growth. The airline’s strong brand, commitment to quality service, and regional connectivity make it a key player in the ever-evolving aviation industry. Here are some key developments and strategies that will shape MEA’s future:

  1. Modernization and Expansion: MEA will continue to invest in modernizing its fleet and expanding its route network. The addition of new aircraft and destinations will enhance its competitiveness and regional connectivity.

  2. Sustainability Initiatives: Like many airlines, MEA is likely to explore more sustainable practices, including the use of alternative fuels and other environmental measures to reduce its carbon footprint.

  3. Technological Advancements: The airline will embrace technological advancements to streamline operations and enhance the passenger experience. This includes improvements in booking processes, in-flight entertainment, and digital services.

  4. Strengthening Regional Presence: MEA will maintain its strong regional presence, serving as a bridge between the Middle East and the world. This will continue to support regional tourism and business travel.

Conclusion

Middle East Airlines, founded in 1945, has been an integral part of Lebanon’s identity and has left an indelible mark on the Middle East’s aviation landscape. The airline’s resilience, commitment to quality service, and role in connecting people and cultures reflect its enduring impact on the region and beyond. As MEA looks to the future, it remains well-prepared to serve as a bridge between continents, fostering cultural exchange, economic growth, and continued regional connectivity. Middle East Airlines is not just an airline; it is a symbol of Lebanon’s enduring spirit and a testament to the power of aviation to bridge cultures and connect people around the world.

Middle East Airlines has codeshare agreements with AeroflotAir CanadaAir FranceAir EuropaAlitaliaCzech AirlinesEtihad AirwaysKuwait AirwaysQatar AirwaysRoyal JordanianSaudiaTAROMTunisairTurkish Airlines and Vietnam Airlines.

MEA is a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance.

Did you know? When you book MEA tickets through Fastofly, you can pay for your tickets using the Lebanese pound. It’s just one of the 160 currencies that you choose from! Here at Fastofly.

 


 

Destinations

As of February 2020, Middle East Airlines flies to 33 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Medina and Nice are destinations that are served seasonally.

 

International Destinations

 

Country City Airport
Armenia Yerevan Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL)
Belgium Brussels Brussels Airport (BRU)
Cyprus Larnaca Larnaca International Airport (LCA)
Denmark Copenhagen Copenhagen Airport (CPH)
Egypt Cairo Cairo International Airport (CAI)
France Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
Germany Düsseldorf Düsseldorf Airport (DUS)
Germany Frankfurt Frankfurt Airport (FRA)
Ghana Accra Kotoka International Airport (ACC)
Greece Athens Athens International Airport (ATH)
Iraq Baghdad Baghdad International Airport (BGW)
Iraq Basra Basra International Airport (BSR)
Iraq Erbil Erbil International Airport (EBL)
Iraq Najaf Al Najaf International Airport (NJF)
Italy Milan Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
Italy Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
Ivory Coast Abidjan Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport (ABJ)
Jordan Amman Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
Kuwait Kuwait City Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
Nigeria Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS)
Qatar Doha Hamad International Airport (DOH)
Saudi Arabia Dammam King Fahd International Airport (DMM)
Saudi Arabia Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED)
Saudi Arabia Riyadh King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
Spain Madrid Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD)
Switzerland Geneva Geneva Airport (GVA)
Turkey Istanbul Istanbul Airport (IST)
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
United Arab Emirates Dubai Dubai International Airport (DXB)
United Kingdom London London Heathrow International Airport (LHR)
France Nice (Seasonal) Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE)
Saudi Arabia Medina (Charter) Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport (MED)

 

Domestic Destinations

 

MEA has one domestic airport and it’s the airline’s hub airport based in Beirut.

 

City Province/Region Airport
Lebanon Beirut Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) (HUB)

 


 

Frequent Flyer Program

MEA operates a frequent flyer program called Cedar Miles to reward regular passengers with the airline.

Every time you fly with MEA or its partners you can collect Miles on your Cedar Miles account, which can be redeemed for free flight tickets on Middle East Airlines or any other airline partner. The further you travel, the more Miles you collect and upgrade your membership status from Blue to Silver then Gold and Platinum.

Cedar Miles can be earned and redeemed on all Middle East Airlines bookinga and on all flights operated by Air France, KLM, and Qatar Airways and can be earned on stays at Rotana Hotels, lounges and all Hertz car rentals.

 


 

Airline Alliance

Middle East Airlines is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. SkyTeam Alliance is a leading global airline network, with 20 member airlines. SkyTeam alliance was founded in 2000 and now consists of member airlines such as Aerolineas Argentinas, AeromexicoAir EuropaChina SouthernAlitaliaChina AirlinesDeltaGaruda IndonesiaKenya AirwaysKLM and others. SkyTeam Alliance network has nearly 15,445 daily flights, with 1,036 destinations in 170 countries. Check out our page on How to book flights in Airline Alliances to find out more.

 


 

Class Fares

The airline offers the following class options on its aircraft:

A330: 44 seats in Cedar Class (Business) and 200 in Economy Class.

A320: 24 seats in Cedar Class (Business) and 102 in Economy Class.

A321: 28 seats in Cedar Class (Business) and 132 in Economy Class.

Embraer Legacy 500: 12 seats in Cedar Class (Business)

 


 

Economy Class

Economy Class Facilities

Food and beverages are complimentary. Cold snacks are available on short flights, and warm meals on longer flights; if you are flying back from Europe or Africa, you will enjoy lunch and dinner. Make the most of duty-free shopping and the in-flight magazine. Economy offers in-flight entertainment through personal television screens and you can watch a range of movies and play a range of different games. The airline varied has special meals such as diabetic, vegetarian, vegan and children’s meal packages, and all the airline’s meals served on board are Halal.

 

Economy Class Seating

The economy class is the value option, but you can still expect comfortable seating with padded headrests. With a seat pitch of 32in (81cm), the airline’s seats are positioned in a comfortable manner.

 


 

Business Class

Business Class Facilities

Seats are provided with personal televisions and noise-cancelling headphones.

Enjoy complimentary fine cuisine, with Western and Lebanese influence. Different meals are provided depending on the departure time. Welcome drinks and hot and cold beverages are also served throughout the flight.

 

Business Class Seating

The seats in business class are spread out in one single large cabin. Seats are equipped with individual reading lights, and adjustable panel control, Lie flat in fully reclining seats, with a pillow and blanket provided. Middle East Airlines cedar class seat pitch is 42-48in (106-121cm), and the seating arrangement is set in a 2-2 configuration

 


 

In-Flight Entertainment

Middle East Airlines offers a broad range of options for in-flight entertainment. Movies and TV shows are available to watch on board. You can also listen to music and play games.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is available on board so you can stay connected above the clouds. This means you can surf the web, check your emails and send messages mid-air. Wi-Fi is currently only available on MEA flights using the Airbus A321neo. The first 10MB is free to use and is ideal for simple messaging Apps. If you’d like to use more data, you can purchase the Surfing Plan for $7 USD which gives you 100MB or purchase the Premium Plan for $12 USD which gives you up to 180MB of data.

 


 

Baggage

Carry-on Baggage

Middle East Airlines allows you to carry one piece of hand luggage of up to 10kg / 22lbs. This baggage must not exceed the overall dimensions of 115cm and should have a dimension of 56cm x 40cm x 25cm (22in x .15in x 9in).

Checked Baggage

Economy Class

23kg / 50lbs weight limit

If you’re flying in Economy Class between Beirut and the following destinations, you are allowed 23kg / 50lbs of free checked baggage on MEA flights:

Athens, Brussels, Geneva, London, Milan, Nice, Paris, Rome

30kg / 66lbs weight limit

Economy Class passengers flying between Beirut and the following destinations are allowed 30kg / 66lbs of free checked baggage:

Istanbul, Amman, Abudhabi, Al Najaf, Baghdad, Cairo, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Erbil, Jeddah, Kuwait, Larnaca, Riyadh, Yerevan

35kg / 77lbs weight limit

35kg / 77lbs of free check baggage is allowed when flying in Economy Class between Beirut and the following destinations:

Abidjan, Accra, Kano, Lagos

40kg / 88lbs weight limit

When flying in Economy Class between Beirut and the following destinations, you are allowed 35kg / 77lbs of free checked baggage on Middle East Airlines bookings:

Dusseldorf, Copenhagen, Frankfurt

Business Class

23kg / 50lbs weight limit

When flying in Business Class between Beirut and the following destinations, you are allowed three pieces of checked baggage, with a maximum weight of 23kg / 50lbs per bag on MEA flights:

Athens, Brussels, Geneva, London, Milan, Nice, Paris, Rome

60kg / 132lbs weight limit

When flying in Business Class between Beirut and the following destinations, you are allowed 2 x 30kg / 66lbs of free checked baggage on Middle East Airlines flights:

Istanbul, Dusseldorf, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Amman, Abudhabi, Al Najaf, Baghdad, Cairo, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Erbil, Jeddah, Kuwait, Larnaca, Riyadh, Yerevan

60kg / 132lbs weight limit

When flying in Business Class between Beirut and the following destinations, you are allowed 60kg / 132lbs of free checked baggage on MEA flights:

Abidjan, Accra, Kano, Lagos

 


Check-In

Online Check-In

You can check in for your Middle East Airlines flight by visiting the MEA online check-in page and entering your flight details. Online check-in opens 24 hours before scheduled flight departure time and closes three hours before.

Airport Check-In

You can check in for your MEA flight by visiting the Middle East Airlines check-in desks at the airport. Airport check-in opens three hours before scheduled flight departure time and closes at least 45 minutes—one hour before.

Mobile App Check-In

You can also check in for your Middle East Airlines flight through the MEA’s mobile application which can be downloaded from MEA’s website. Through the app, you’ll also be able to access your flight details and boarding pass.

 


 

Special Services

MEA provides a number of special services to its passengers. Please see below the following services it offers:

Passenger services

If you require wheelchair assistance at the airport, you must inform PIA of this at the time of the Middles East Airlines booking. You can request this service by getting through to the airline’s offices; or the Fastofly Airlines customer service team if you have booked through our website. For more information on this please see our wheelchair assistance page.

If you want to know more about passengers’ services please check out our page or you can find more on this on the MEA passenger service page such as stretchers, visually impaired, and hearing impaired. The airline provides priority seating for passengers with a disability and will do their utmost best to find you a suitable seat that is suited to your needs.

Unaccompanied minors (UM)

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 years travelling unaccompanied: a special Unaccompanied Minors handling is obligatory, and a special fee applies. On request, unaccompanied minor handling can be offered by MEA against a charge for minors between the age of 12 and 16.

Pregnant Women

Pregnant mothers beyond 34 weeks may be accepted to fly only if they provide a written certificate from attending a physician that confirms they are fit to fly.

Transportation of live animals

Pets that weigh 7kg / 15lbs or less may be accepted in the cabin and placed under the seat in front of the passenger. The weight of the pet and container shouldn’t go above 10kgs provided that the overall size of the container is H= 24 cm, W= 24 cm and L= 40 cm and that they are reserved in advance. Pet Soft Cage is permitted.

 

 


 

The Fleet

As of September 2022, the MEA airlines fleet consists of:

  • 9 Airbus A320-200
  • 4 Airbus A330-200
  • 9 Airbus A321neo
  • 2 Embraer Legacy 500

Middle East Airlines also have some aircraft on order including 2 x Airbus A321neos, 4 x Airbus A321XLRs and 4 x Airbus A330-900s, all of which should be delivered and in service by 2026.

 


 

Route Map

 


 

Hub Airport

 

Beirut-Rafic International Airport (BEY)

Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) is the main airport of Beirut and the hub for Lebanon’s national carrier, Middle East Airlines, as well as Wings of Lebanon. The airport is named after the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005. The airport has three runways and can handle nearly 7 million passengers every year. Other airlines which fly to and from Beirut include Aegean AirlinesAeroflotAir FranceAlitaliaBritish AirwaysBulgaria AirEtihad AirwaysEthiopian Airlines and Germania.

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