150 Flyers Got Kicked off a Plane so This President Could Get to the UN
When passengers on Middle East Airlines Flight 308 from Beirut (BEY) to Cairo (CAI) boarded their flight on Sunday, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. However, that was quickly about to change when the roughly 150 passengers were deplaned. Instead of transporting paying passengers, the plane was abruptly assigned to carry Lebanese President Michel Aoun to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
The aircraft's paying passengers, who had already boarded, were forced to disembark. As a result, passengers were stuck at BEY for nine hours, according to Al-Arabiya. In addition, the swap reportedly caused delays to other flights.
Middle East Airlines apologized to passengers who were affected by the last-minute swap, saying the situation was "beyond its control." The airline said passengers were placed on an alternative flight, departing from Beirut for Cairo at 9:18pm local time — a delay of eight hours and 53 minutes.
Auon typically uses the airline's jets for his international trips. His office issued a statement on Monday, saying that presidential arrangements for trips "have not changed for tens of years," and also noting that the situation was "the responsibility of the party organizing air traffic."
Nevertheless, the incident caused backlash on social media, with people furious of the airline's decision to deplane passengers.
The aircraft that eventually transported passengers was an A330-200.