After spending three days in Egypt transferring between Cairo and Mansoura (North East of Nile Delta), it is now time to go back to the Land of the Cedars i.e. Lebanon.
I arrived at Cairo International Airport old terminal 1 at 8:00 a.m i.e. three hours before the plane departure time. In fact, I have so memories with this airport terminal as me and my mother used to travel through this terminal during the late 80s and early 90s and the terminal despite being renovated in 2004, it stills maintains too much of its old spirit.
My flight for today will be operated by MEA old but elegant A321 (OD-RMJ). The aircraft was delivered new to MEA in 2003 and stills with the operation along with sister-ship OD-RMI. However, I knew from MEA officials that since 2011, MEA policy is to sell all planes aged above 10 years and these two A321 are about to be phased out of service soon.
Now back to my flight, its details are as follows: Flight Number : ME305 STD/ATD : 11:00 / 11:15 STA/ATA : 12:15 / 12:15
After quick counter check-in and passport controls processing, I headed to the VIP lounges located at the first floor above the duty free. These lounges are used by Air France, KLM and other SKYTEAM partners including MEA and Alitalia. The lounge service is very basic and presented in a really cheap way. Tasteless croissants are offered along with basic drinking service. I opted to have an espresso coffee as other options are tasteless. Huh and they call this a VIP lounge :(… Very disappointing….
Soon, MEA A321 OD-RMJ arrived from Beirut to pick us back to Beirut. We were bussed to the plane which had parked at gate 33 (same where MEA B720s and B707s used to park during the 80s and 90s).
Boarding the plane, you can see how neat and clean the cabin is. J class seats offers ultimate comfort (compared to J class on various European Airlines). I took my seat 25A and snapped several pictures for the cabin before we started our push back.
The airplane started push-back right as scheduled, but on that day runway 5L was unserviceable so all traffic arrival and departure had to be made via runway 5C. We kept holding in our position for 15 minutes before taking off 15 minutes behind schedule, yet arrived Beirut right on time due to favorable winds.
Take-off was smooth, due to the short of this flight, the TV monitors showed several commercial ads promoting for the Lebanese tourism.
Now it is time for the meal service. We were offered light brunch comprising of cheese assortments served with chicken salad along with baklava (Lebanese sweets), arabic bread, juice and tea. As MEA promotes itself as an hospital airline, service was offered with silver forks and knifes which is a real nice touch from the airline regardless of the one hour flight duration.
Soon we commenced our descent to Beirut and arrived via runway 16. In the arrival hall at Beirut Raffic Harriri International Airport, there are a lot of old nostalgic pictures for the golden era of the 60s for Beirut.
Middle East Airlines
EAS (Egyptian Aviation Services First Class Lounge)
Cairo - CAI
Beirut - BEY
Another good experiance with MEA, low quality facilities at Cairo
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