Emirates, Etihad, Qatar: alcohol restrictions during Ramadan explained

By Chris C., June 16 2015
Emirates, Etihad, Qatar: alcohol restrictions during Ramadan explained

As Muslims around the world begin fasting this week in observance of Ramadan, travellers on Gulf airlines Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways may notice subtle differences when flying during the Islamic Holy month.

The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan this year begins on Thursday June 18 and concludes on Thursday July 16. Muslims fast during daylight hours throughout Ramadan, although non-Muslim travellers needn’t worry about going hungry: you’ll still find food waiting for you in the lounges and in the air.

But when it comes to alcohol, each airline has a different policy. Here's what you can expect from each of the Gulf's 'big three'.

Alcohol during Ramadan: Emirates

A spokesperson for Qantas partner Emirates told Australian Business Traveller that “Emirates will continue to offer alcohol in all lounges and on flights during Ramadan.”

For non-Muslims, that means you can enjoy a glass of Veuve Clicquot or Moët & Chandon in all of Emirates' worldwide lounges, including in Australia and in Dubai, with the A380 inflight bar and lounge buzzing as usual.

However, Emirates notes that alcohol isn’t available on flights to or from Saudi Arabia – including destinations Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina and Dammam – “which has always been the case, regardless of Ramadan", the spokesman said.

Alcohol during Ramadan: Etihad Airways

Etihad will continue serving alcohol in its international lounges including in Sydney, London and Paris, but this “will not be displayed in the bar area in the usual manner during daylight fasting hours”, an Etihad spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.

However, the airline's lounges at its Abu Dhabi hub will not serve alcohol during daylight fasting times "out of respect for local customs," with the lounge's bars open only from 7pm to 3am daily until Ramadan concludes.

Etihad's impressive collection of spirits in the Abu Dhabi Premium Lounge
Etihad's impressive collection of spirits in the Abu Dhabi Premium Lounge

Alcohol will continue to be available as usual on all Etihad flights, including those departing from or arriving at Abu Dhabi Airport.

Alcohol during Ramadan: Qatar Airways

Alcohol will still be served on flights during Ramadan – including from Doha to Australia and Europe, and in the airline’s London Heathrow lounge.

It's business as usual in Qatar Airways' London Heathrow Premium Lounge
It's business as usual in Qatar Airways' London Heathrow Premium Lounge

However, a Qatar Airways spokesperson advised that “in respect of the Holy month of Ramadan, alcohol will not be served in (Doha’s) Hamad International Airport during Ramadan." This means that, in effect, Qatar lounges at Doha will be an around-the-clock 'dry zone' until Ramadan’s end on July 16.

This same policy will also apply at the Al Mourjan Lounge and Qatar’s separate ‘business class’ and ‘first class’ lounges for Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members travelling in economy.

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Chris C.

A Brisbane-based contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 572

I'd like to think the Ausbt reader's aren't your typical uninformed, today/tonight viewing bogan's who think this is an opportunity to sledge off at a portion of the population... But glad you put that disclaimer there.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jan 2015

Total posts 106

1st, sorry for hitting report, rather than reply, i have only had 3 coffees so far today.

2nd, unfortunately i have noticed, probably along with a few other frequent readers, that for some unknown reason, people taking offence at some of the news being reported, i remember the recent 'Lindt Balls' incident being a key example. 

I would hope we aren't all biggots, but a few tend to get through the cracks from time to time

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 572

Ah yes... I recall the Lindt balls. Emirates lounges are one of many things where a Muslim company faciliates non muslim beliefs. Be it through Lindt balls, the selection of booze, the stress standards.... But I'm getting off track!

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 336

This is the most civilised comments section I engage in on the net. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 232

By talking like this we are probably, ironically, voiding the very comment policy we are talking about by being off-topic.

However, I fully agree - the folks that comment here are the most civilised on the net.

BTW - I like the name speedbird, a nod to the call sign that British Airways uses I assume. 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 336

Laugh... Quite. I think Chris will forgive us.. But just in case I will add my two cents worth re Ramadan.

When visiting one of these Gulf states during Ramadan, remember no eating in public, which includes chewing gum.

As for the username. Originally it was a nod to my surname being Bird... Only found out about the BA call sign afterwards (watching that documentary about flight British Airways Flight 9). Happy coincidence ??


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