The month of Ramadan 2016 has officially kicked off, and this year it runs from June 5 through July 5. I fly the “big three” Gulf carriers quite often, and there are many aspects of their experience which are superior to what the competition offers… including the alcohol selection… typically.
With that in mind, I figured it would be worth posting a reminder of what you can expect over the coming weeks if you’re flying Emirates, Etihad, or Qatar. I figured it’s especially timely, given that a lot of people are connecting in Abu Dhabi to try Etihad’s new first class lounge, which just opened.
For the Gulf carriers it’s an interesting balance between respecting their “roots” while also serving non-Muslim international travelers, many of whom are traveling between non-Muslim countries, and simply using the Gulf as a connecting point.
It’s my understanding that the policies for the Gulf airlines are the same as last year:
Alcohol service onboard during Ramadan
Onboard Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar flights you can expect it to be “business as usual” during Ramadan. That’s to say that alcohol should be served to all destinations except Saudi Arabia, which is the case year-round.
Alcohol service in lounges during Ramadan
While it’s business as usual onboard, that’s not the case on the ground.
Of the three carriers, Emirates is the only one which doesn’t adjust their policies during Ramadan, including in their lounges in Dubai.
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Etihad, on the other hand, will not display alcohol in their foreign lounges during daylight hours, and won’t serve any alcohol during daylight hours in their Abu Dhabi lounges.
Etihad Airways Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi
Lastly, Qatar Airways is taking the strongest stand, as they won’t be serving any alcohol in their Doha lounges through the end of Ramadan.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Doha
Of course this isn’t a big deal, and I recognize airlines have to find a balance between respecting their Muslim roots and also serving the non-Muslim community.
If you’re looking forward to enjoying an adult beverage in one of the “home” lounges of Etihad or Qatar, you’ll instead want to have an extra drink or two aboard.
What do you think is the correct “balance” for airlines to strike when it comes to alcohol service during Ramadan?