Lebanon’s First Female Captain Landing at London Heathrow in Crosswinds

SkyTeam member Middle East Airlines was recruiting pilots – including women – in 1993. A friend showed a newspaper column to Rola Hoteit, then completing her degree in Mathematics at the American University of Beirut. It read, “Women cannot drive a car. How will they be able to fly an airplane?”

That piece, declaring that women couldn’t fly, encouraged her to apply. Out of 2000 applicants she was 9 accepted into training.

She finally made it to the left seat in 2010. Her maiden flight as a captain was from Beirut to Amman, carrying a former Prime Minister of Lebanon on board. Since she’s paved the way Middle East Airlines has hired four other women as pilots.

Now she’s piloting one of the airline’s 5 widebody aircraft, an Airbus A330-200, on one of the airline’s longest routes Beirut – London Heathrow – landing in crosswinds.

Incidentally Beirut is a fabulous destination, once known as Paris of the Middle East. I had high hopes, then, for the new Netflix show Dollar which is both created and set there and about a viral marketing campaign for a new bank. Sadly the show disappoints (though the Beirut backdrop does hold interest for awhile).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Have you been to Beirut? I know it was amazing until the civil war, and certainly has had a fair bit of violence since. I’d love to hear about it from a blogger who’s traveled a lot. So many other views are really skewed that it’s tough to know what to believe. Having read a vast number of your reviews, it’d be fairly easy to put Beirut in perspective.

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