Plane refused entry to Iraq after minister's son misses boarding
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 0929 GMT (1729 HKT)
A Middle East Airlines flight (not pictured) turned back to Beirut after being refused clearance at Baghdad.
- MEA flight refused entry to Baghdad, turned back after 20 minutes
- Reports suggest an Iraqi minister's son, who missed the flight, was the cause
(CNN) -- A minor furor has broken out on social media after reports a Middle East Airlines (MEA) flight was refused entry to Baghdad because an Iraqi minister's son had been left behind in Lebanon.
Various media outlets have reported that Mahdi al-Amiri, son of Iraqi Transport Minister Hadi al-Amiri, forced the plane to turn back after he missed the flight.
Rima Mikaoui, director of public relations for Middle East Airlines-Air Liban, told CNN: "It is true that MEA airplane that was heading to Baghdad yesterday on March 6, 2014 was forced to return to Beirut.
"Matter is still under investigation, and we are awaiting the result of the investigation."
The National News Agency (NNA) in Lebanon, run by the Ministry of Information, reported that "20 minutes after taking off from Beirut International Airport, the director of MEA bureau in Baghdad informed the airliner that the Iraqi authorities would not allow the aircraft to land in Baghdad airport if it wasn't carrying the minister's son on board."
Other reports claim that airline staff searched for the missing passenger and made the usual announcements for boarding, and then departed after a six-minute delay without him.
Investigations go on
Iraq's Transport Ministry has denied the claims, saying the plane was turned back due to "cleaning operations" at the airport.
Various comments have since emerged on Twitter.
"You might consider getting ... to the gate on time, Mahdi al-Amiri," tweeted one.
Lebanon's NNA has also reported that Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, is investigating the allegations with a view to chastising those responsible.
The Australian reports that MEA is in touch with the Iraqi authorities, claiming the incident has cost it time and money.
Minister Hadi al-Amiri is also the head of Iraq's Badr Organization, a political party that was previously the armed wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Nonprofit Ethical Traveler has released its annual list of the developing countries doing the most to promote human rights and preserve their environments.
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1036 GMT (1836 HKT)
These waterfront watering holes have killer ocean views, creative drinks and the mahalo vibe we demand.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Can't wait to book your ticket to Indianapolis and Oakland? The venerable guidebook is right there with you
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0625 GMT (1425 HKT)
By helicopter, snowmobile and big-wheel truck across some of the world's most volatile landscapes.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 2142 GMT (0542 HKT)
Construction begins on a new Singapore airport complex that could make delays and layovers a pleasure.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 1441 GMT (2241 HKT)
Inflight chatterboxes are annoying but they're not the worst violators of onboard etiquette, according to an Expedia study.
December 8, 2014 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
These statues are awe-inspiring even for the strongest of non-believers.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
25 years after the death of Romania's communist dictator, tourism is helping heal old wounds.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
Photo sharing website names the top 10 destinations for geo-tagged snapshots.
December 3, 2014 -- Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT)
New York may be a paradise of Zagat-rated, Michelin-starred restaurants, but some of its best food can be found on the streets.
December 2, 2014 -- Updated 0601 GMT (1401 HKT)
Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana ups the eco stakes with what it claims is world's first battery-powered safari fleet.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
These quirky and beautiful subway stops make standing cheek-to-cheek with 45 strangers almost seem fun.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Luxury vintage Land Rover tours explore Bedouin backwaters without bashing up precious dunes.