Qatar Airways will make small changes to its service as Muslims around the world begin fasting this week in observance of Ramadan, a holy period of spiritual awareness.
Although international travel is heavily curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, Qatar Airways continues to maintain many regular passenger flights, including to Australia, Europe and the UK. Most of the airline's lounges remain open and in-flight offerings have not been significantly cut back.
During Ramadan, Muslims are required to abstain from all food and drink from the prayers before dawn (Fajr) to the evening prayers around sunset (Maghrib). However, exemptions can be made for those travelling or who are unwell.
Non-Muslim travellers flying with Qatar Airways will still find plenty of food offered to them both on the ground and in the air, but the service of alcoholic beverages will be more restricted during Ramadan. Here's what you can expect.
When is Ramadan in 2020?
In 2020, Ramadan runs from the evening of Thursday 23 April to the evening of Saturday 23 May, although minor variations may occur depending on when the new moon is sighted.
It occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, which means it is celebrated at different times each year compared to the traditional Gregorian calendar.
Does Qatar Airways serve food during Ramadan?
Yes, Qatar Airways will continue regular food service within its lounges and in-flight, as Muslims who are travelling can be exempt from the fasting. Non-Muslim travellers won't notice much difference in this regard.
In previous years, the airline provided traditional Iftar boxes for Muslim travellers to break their fast in the evening. However, a spokesperson for Qatar Airways confirmed to Executive Traveller that these boxes will not return in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Does Qatar Airways serve alcohol in-flight during Ramadan?
While soft drinks are still freely offered, alcoholic drinks are more restricted during Ramadan. They'll still be available for travellers wanting to partake but staff will be much more discreet about it.
Alcohol won't normally appear listed on the menu during this period, so you'll need to ask the cabin crew for your preferred tipple. It might not also be available pre-departure, so you may have to wait until after take-off for that glass of bubbly.
Bottles will not be displayed on top of carts in economy class, but can still be requested.
As is the norm year-round, most regional flights out of Doha – such as to cities in Saudi Arabia – won't have alcohol loaded.
Does Qatar Airways serve alcohol in lounges during Ramadan?
In a break from tradition, Qatar Airways will now continue serving alcohol in its lounges during Ramadan in 2020, including in its Doha-based Al Mourjan business class lounge. While bottles will be hidden from view, alcoholic beverages can still be requested.
At the time of writing, only Qatar Airways' Al Mourjan remains open for now, and all lounge-worthy passengers are being directed there.
What other airlines make changes during Ramadan?
Airlines that fly from predominantly Muslim countries – including Etihad, Gulf Air, Oman Air, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, Malaysia Airlines and Garuda Indonesia – usually also make changes to the service of food and beverage during Ramadan.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic will certainly keep most of these airlines firmly grounded during the period of Ramadan in 2020. In previous years, Dubai-based Emirates has not changed its service during Ramadan.
What should I be mindful of during Ramadan?
When not travelling – such as away from airports and planes – it's considered good etiquette to avoid being seen eating, drinking, smoking or even chewing gum in public during the period of fasting in a country that is observing Ramadan.
Be aware that it is illegal to eat or drink in public from dawn to sunset in many Muslim countries during this period, including Qatar.