Impressions Of Middle East Airlines A330 Business Class

Filed Under: Other Airlines, Travel

Hello from Beirut! After flying from Detroit to Paris on the Air France 787-9, I connected from Paris to Beirut on a Middle East Airlines A330. This was booked as part of the same award ticket using Flying Blue Miles, given that both airlines belong to SkyTeam.

In this post I wanted to share my initial impressions of the flight 3hr45min flight from Paris to Beirut, with a full review to follow.

First of all, am I the only one who loves MEA’s livery? Simply gorgeous, in my opinion!

Middle East Airlines A330 business class cabin & seats

MEA’s A330s have a total of 44 angled business class seats, in a 2-2-2 configuration.

It’s interesting how they have a single business class cabin. Rather than having a galley or bathrooms by the second set of doors where everyone boards, they instead just have a big open space, so all eight rows of business class are in a shared cabin. This makes the cabin feel open and spacious, though also less intimate and private.

It also means that row five has an outrageous amount of legroom.

I’m not at all a fan of angled seats, though the truth is that MEA doesn’t operate any long haul flights, so the fact that they have long haul configured aircraft at all is nice, and I certainly can’t complain. The airline primarily operates routes to Europe, the Middle East, and North and West Africa.

The cabin was definitely showing some wear and tear, though nothing was broken.

Middle East Airlines business class food

The meal service on this 3hr45min flight was quite involved. I was both impressed by the quality and disappointed by the fact that they didn’t have Lebanese food on the menu, given that it’s among my favorite cuisine in the world (I’m guessing they serve Lebanese food when departing Beirut).

Service began with mixed nuts and drinks. I had a glass of champagne, and they had Nicolas Feuillatte on offer.

Next up there was a choice of appetizers, with the choice of foie gras or smoked salmon. Unfortunately they were out of salmon by the time they got to my row and I don’t eat foie gras. While that sucks, I appreciated that they then took my main course order first, so I’d at least have my choice there.

Along with the appetizer came a side salad and selection of bread.

There were three main course choices, and I selected the grilled seafood, which included shrimp, salmon, and cod, with saffron rice and vegetables.

For dessert there were three choices — a brownie, cheesecake, or a cheese plate.

Overall I thought the food quality was fairly good, and it was a pretty elaborate meal for a fairly short flight.

Middle East Airlines business class amenities

At each seat was a pillow and blanket. The pillow was a good size, though the blanket was on the small side and a bit scratchy. Again, this is a pretty short flight, so I can’t complain too much about that.

There were no amenity kits or slippers, though each passenger did receive an alright pair of headphones.

Middle East Airlines business class entertainment

MEA doesn’t have Wi-Fi on their planes, though each seat has a personal television. The selection was quite limited, and just included a bit over a dozen movies, and a similar number of TV shows. So I’d recommend bringing your own entertainment.

Middle East Airlines business class service

This is what impressed me most. There were four ladies working business class, and they were all exceptionally friendly and professional. I wasn’t expecting the MEA experience to be so polished, but everything about the service was impressive.

The crew really seemed like they enjoyed their jobs, and they worked hard almost the entire flight. Every seat on the plane was taken, and given how big the business class cabin is, you can really see how the crew hustles the entire flight.

Middle East Airlines business class bottom line

MEA’s business class product was better than I was expecting. Sure, angled seats are nothing to get excited about, but for a sub-four hour daytime flight, this was a solid experience. The food was quite good, and service was excellent.

I wouldn’t hesitate to fly MEA again, especially when you consider that many European airlines fly short haul configured aircraft to Beirut, where business class is just economy with a blocked middle seat and better service.

If you’ve flown MEA, what was your experience like?

  1. Yes, I second @Santastico’s comment – if you have some standout food in Beirut, please post about it.

  2. Make sure you eat at Em Sheriff in Beirut. One of the best restaurant experiences I’ve had anywhere. you will not be disappointed

  3. Flying sunday! Have fun in beirut, Baalbek and Anjar!!! If you have time go Tyrus and tripoli up north. Rentals are dirt cheap.

    And learn to eat fois gras. I have always some in my freezer at home.

  4. “The longest routes they operate are to Europe, the Middle East, and North and West Africa.”

    Er, those are the only routes they offer 😉

    And Em Sharif is definitely worth a visit.

    For those wondering, if you aren’t flying MEA to/from Europe, Air France and British Airways offer a real business class seat.

  5. We’re in the same city! I flew them once in economy from BEY-LHR, and they definitely had a Lebanese breakfast option with knafeh. The Lebanese love it. If you’ve never had it before, you should try it. Unless you really really love cheese, the three of you can probably just share one. It is one of the Lebanese dishes I hadn’t tried before moving to Beirut. I can only have two or three bites of it though and then hallas.

    I’ve never been to Em Sheriff. Maybe I should put it on my list of restaurants to try out. In general most Lebanese and Lebanese/Armenian restaurants with mezze are delicious. I usually just stuff myself with mezze. I haven’t been to Al Falamanki next door once, and it was smoky with nargileh and locals playing tawleh (backgammon), so if you go Em Sharif, maybe stop at Al Falamanki for a nargileh (I don’t personally enjoy it) or a drink/minted lemonade and play some backgammon. This scene is common in many restaurants though.

    I feel like the livery looks a bit outdated.

  6. I flew in economy with them once from Cairo to Beirut, and then connecting to LHR. Very impressed by the service onboard, and the professional staff at BEY who knew their stuff [ I had a piece of luggage in transit from JED, as one does. 🙂 ]. They even offered very nice menus to passengers in economy in an old fashioned folded newspaper format, which was simply a nice surprise. I also loved their (new) lounge at BEY, when I visited, it was only opened a few weeks ago. Overall, I like their services and professionalism, although BEY is the airport to avoid when it comes to immigration and customs. I remember getting into security for a 7am departure flight was just a nightmare that I would want to avoid.

  7. I feel like you can’t compliment this livery and then be all poo poo on Zipair…similar “I made this in Microsoft Word” kind of look.

  8. Oh no , another trip in J. Another meal choice not available……We’re you sat towards the back of the cabin as normal Ben ??

  9. I personally find that I often prefer angle lie-flat seats. Most aircraft fly with slight pitch so horizontal lie-flats often have your feet higher than your head which I find uncomfortable.

    I get a good sleep on Condor 767’s for example.

  10. Although your nickname is Lucky, you don’t seem to be so lucky when it comes to the salmon! Poor you. At least that seafood dish looked delicious. Which brings me to the question why passengers in all classes can’t pre-order their meals like they can seats (without the hefty surcharge for “special meals” as some airlines do)?

    It surely has to be a win-win. The airline can then load exactly the amount of each dish and passengers will always have their choice.

  11. I have tried on all of my most recent trips to the Gulf for work to book a leg on MEA, but they just don’t work with the timings I need and it does not appear to be possible to book a full SkyTeam ticket with them included, so I haven’t been able to.

  12. Y’all kill me advising Ben on where to go and where to eat. That’s not what he does. He reviews airlines and airline lounges and hotels and hotel lounges. He eats in hotels. Rare are the reviews as a traveler actually visiting a place. On the other hand, I appreciate all your suggestions and recommendations

  13. Well, if he enjoys Lebanese food as much as he claims, it would be a shame for him to not have any outside of whatever hotel he is staying at…

  14. So, you find foie gras unnecessarily cruel, but you still take it to take a picture of it? Seems a little wasteful.

  15. In a couple of years they will receive their brand new A330 900 Neos, which will include wifi on board new business class seating. I flew MEA in 2017 to Abu Dhabi on the A320 and I was amazed and the food the seating and leg room, As I flew on Etihad a few weeks earlier to Amman being a 5 star airline, MEA blew it out of the water i terms of service level ,meals and entertainment. MEA will also be getting 15 new A321 He is also.

  16. Great review Ben! I must say I do like their livery as well…it is very refreshing.
    I wish MEA flew to Asia, they’re a great airline and hopefully they do when they expand with their new A330 neo aircraft.
    Hope you had a great time in Lebanon. It is a great destination.

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