Have you got an upcoming flight with Etihad, and you’re suddenly wondering if you will get to enjoy one of the simple pleasures of popping on a long-haul flight, getting served an alcoholic drink with your meal?
It’s a fair question to ask, as UAE-airline Etihad is, after all, based in a Muslim country. So how does this impact the major UAE airlines? Can Etihad serve alcohol? And what about Emirates in neighbouring Dubai? Let’s take a look.
Does Etihad Serve Alcohol?
Great news for those who enjoy a tipple on long-haul flights, alcoholic drinks are served in all cabins on board Etihad flights internationally.
As you can imagine, there are some significant differences between the drinks menu in first class and economy, but there’s a range of options in each that passengers can enjoy.
- In Economy Class, you will have a limited selection of beers, wines and basic spirits served by drinks trolley around meal service times. Outside of service periods, you can request the same drinks from staff.
- In Etihad Business Class, you’ll be offered a welcome glass of bubbles, plus you can pre-select your drink for after-take-off from an a la carte menu of beverages. Your menu choice of drinks continues throughout the flight.
- First Class operates in the same manner as Business Class, with additional choices in premium beverages. Staff will guide you in meal and wine matching ideas and you can try their signature cognac.
It should go without saying that per Etihad’s alcohol policy, if airline staff think you have drunk too much, service will be refused.
Likewise, don’t start pressing the service button as soon as the seat belt sign goes off. You can expect it to take 1-2 hours after take off in economy before the first service is available, and the bar shuts well before landing for stocktake.
What is the legal drinking age on Etihad?
Although the country you take off from might allow drinking from 18 years of age or even younger, Etihad follows the legal drinking age in Abu Dhabi of 21. Passengers who look young may be asked for identification before being served.
Does Etihad Serve Alcohol in their lounges?
Yes, at all Etihad branded lounges or partner lounges, alcoholic beverages are served. You may be subject to the rules of your partner outside of the UAE – the US particularly is notorious for lounges charging a premium to drink alcohol when it’s free elsewhere in the world.
It used to be that during the Holy Month of Ramadan, the airport lounges in Abu Dhabi would not serve alcohol from sunrise to sunset. However, this has been abolished and alcohol is now served at that airport 24/7.
Can You Drink Alcohol in Abu Dhabi?
So your next question is, no doubt, can I drink alcohol if I am stopping in Abu Dhabi? This is another resounding yes, but with rules.
Over 21s can be served alcohol at licensed premises and alcohol retail stores for home consumption if they are non-Muslim. (Truth be told, no one is going to not serve you because you ‘look Muslim’).
Laws changed back in 2020 that stopped the process of non-Muslim expatriate residents from needing to apply for a license to buy alcohol (a licence that was frankly, never asked for).
Laws also changed in 2021 regarding what sort of establishments could apply for an alcohol-serving license in Abu Dhabi. Previously, only restaurants and bars attached to hotels and sporting clubs could apply for these licences. Since July 2021, a wide range of hospitality venues can now apply for a license to serve alcohol responsibly.
- You can read up further here on everything you need to know about alcohol laws in Abu Dhabi.
Equally, if your journey in the United Arab Emirates will take you up to Dubai, here’s what you need to know about buying alcohol in Dubai as a tourist.
The overaching thing to bear in mind is have fun, have a drink in Abu Dhbai, but don’t get too drunk. Drunk and disorderly behaviour and anything you may do while intoxicated is what will land you in hot water with authorities in the UAE, not the act of drinking itself.
If you’d like to enjoy a beverage during your stopover in Abu Dhabi, you might want to jump into our more detailed guides on:
- The best ladies’ night deals in Abu Dhabi
- Where to find the best Abu Dhabi nightlife
- Our selection of the best sports bars and gastropubs in Abu Dhabi
- Where to find the UAE’s first Microbrewery
- Al fresco season, these are the best rooftop bars in Abu Dhabi to try this winter
Flying to Abu Dhabi With Etihad
Are you really set now for your Etihad flight? If you’re still in the planning stages of booking an Etihad flight, don’t forget that by planning a 1-2 night stopover in Abu Dhabi via Etihad, you can actually score yourself FREE Abu Dhabi accommodation!
If you pair this with the courtesy Visit Abu Dhabi tourist bus, you might be surprised by how good value a stopover in Abu Dhabi can be.
Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi
- Pop into our essential planning information page; it includes everything you need to know about getting around Abu Dhabi, a handy guide on what to pack and top tips for first-timers on the dos and don’ts, laws, and customs in the UAE.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!
- Discover the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our hotel or tour recommendation links.Abu Dhabi Travel Planner