Emirates, Etihad, Qatar: alcohol restrictions during Ramadan explained

By Chris Chamberlin, June 16 2015

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

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

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 Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2939

While Australian Business Traveller encourages reader comments on all articles, we do not welcome comments that are abusive, contain foul language, attack other readers or are 'off-topic' – such comments will be edited or deleted as appropriate, and in accordance with our comment policy.

We especially request that comments relating to restrictions on the service of alcohol during Ramadan remain respectful of Islam, in the same way that readers would hope for their own beliefs to be respected.

riley

riley

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

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.

Hayden

Hayden

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

riley

riley

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

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!

Speedbird

Speedbird

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 276

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

fxdxdy

fxdxdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 219

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. 

Speedbird

Speedbird

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 276

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 ??

fxdxdy

fxdxdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 219

A question I get alot from folks traveling to 'Islamic Countries' is 'When exactly does fasting begin and end'?

The answer is fasting starts at Fajr (morning prayer) and finishes at Maghrib (the prayer after sunset).

To know exactly when those times are you can go to a site such as islamic finder and look up the times for the city you are going to be in.

Example here for some UAE cities:  https://www.islamicfinder.org/cityPrayerNew.php?country=United_Arab_Emirates

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2939

Thank you for sharing this fxdxdy, I'm sure a number of business travellers stopping over in the Middle East will find this useful.

Also just to clarify, Etihad's alcohol service times in Abu Dhabi are as published above (7pm-3am), rather than being timed exactly in line with Maghrib and Fajr.

paa

paa

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 62

Chris, I assume Etihad and Qatar have operated this policy in previous years. Do you know if it has had any negative affect on their load factors compared to Emirates for the Ramadan period?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2939

Hi paa, we don't have any information to share in that regard.

RaptorNation158

RaptorNation158

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 513

im assuming QF wouldn't be affected by this on their DXB routes.

stredinnick

stredinnick

30 Jun 2011

Total posts 50

Slight surprised to see what I suspected was a muslim man in AUH Etihad lounge downing a few Stellas last month.  I guess the same rules don't apply in 'international' space.

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

It seems you could do what Queen Elizabeth the First could not even do; make windows into men's souls ;)

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

The Arab world has had a very interesting relationship with alcohol. Since alcohol is already taboo but still served openly, I don't see why things should be any different in the month of Ramadhan. I was watching the film, "Cat on Hot Tin Roof" again last week. The word mendacity comes to mind...

sharrkey

sharrkey

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 70

I  have  no  problem   with   any  of  these   Airlines'  policy  re  Alcohol   during  Ramadan.  Most  of   them  are  serving   it  on   board   anyway.  Even  if  they  weren't I   don't  think  it's   a  crisis   for   most  of   us   except    for   some heavy   boozers   and   alcoholics!  


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