“[MEA] has nothing to do with where passengers are seated, and that is up to the Lebanese Embassy [to decide].”
This is what Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines told Annahar on Saturday, in response to the recent London-Beirut flight that sparked outrage among its passengers and the Lebanese public opinion.
The scandalous flight saw a flight attendant brazenly telling the passengers, who had paid more than double the regular ticket price for the trip back home, to “leave the plane if they’re not satisfied.”
This was after the passengers were complaining of the lack of social distancing aboard the plane, which was the justification given by the company for the high ticket prices in the first place.
After a couple of videos of the heated exchange aboard the plane went viral in Lebanon, criticism rained down on Middle East Airlines. A source of the company responded in a brief talk with Annahar.
The source explained that the seating of the passengers is the sole responsibility of the Lebanese Embassy in the UK and that the passengers who departed from London had already tested negative for PCR.
“Those who did not undergo the testing are the passengers coming from the U.S, and they sat at the back of the plane while maintaining safe distances between each other,” the source continued.
The MEA spokesperson concluded by pointing out that the goal of Lebanon’s Ambassador to the UK, Rami Mortada, “was to bring the largest number of students.”
Mortada did not hesitate to respond himself, later asserting that the embassy does not control the number of passengers coming from the United States.
Furthermore, he reiterated to Annahar what MEA’s source noted about the passengers, in regard to their confirmed negative PCR results.
“It is natural then,” Mortada elaborated, “to fill more seats on board to serve the huge demand, as we have about 2,700 people wanting to return [to Lebanon].”
“It makes no sense to leave a safe distance between two passengers as a result of their negative test results. Otherwise, what is the purpose of the testing?” He concluded.
It’s worth noting that the hazmat-suited MEA stewards aboard the flight were trying to stop the passengers from filming the debacle, which only agitated the concerned passengers even more.
Nonetheless, the videos did reach Lebanon’s cyberspace and generated many disapproving reactions.