Etihad Airways, the flag carrier airline of the United Arab Emirates, serves alcoholic beverages as part of its in-flight service. However, the availability of alcohol varies depending on the flight’s origin, destination, and flight class.
A Brief Overview of Etihad’s Alcohol Policy
- Etihad serves complimentary beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails in First Class and Business Class on most flights over 1 hour.
- In Economy Class, alcohol must be purchased except on certain routes where it is offered complimentary.
- No alcohol is served on flights to/from Saudi Arabia in any class. Some other flights may have restrictions.
- Only passengers ages 18+ can be served alcoholic drinks. Valid photo ID may be required as proof of age.
- Etihad cabin crew have the right to refuse serving alcohol to any passenger who appears intoxicated.
Alcohol Selections in Each Class of Service
The types of alcoholic drinks offered on Etihad depend on the flight’s cabin class.
First Class Alcohol Options
In First Class, Etihad offers premium brands of liquor along with beer, wine, champagne, and cocktails included at no extra charge.
Some examples of spirits available in First Class include:
- Whiskeys: Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Glenfiddich 18 Years Old
- Vodka: Grey Goose
- Gin: Bombay Sapphire
- Rum: Bacardi 8 Años
- Liqueurs: Baileys Irish Cream, Disaronno Amaretto
Complimentary beers in First Class are typically mainstream lagers like Budweiser, Stella Artois, or Heineken.
The wine selection features high-end champagnes like Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve and fine wines such as Château Haut-Brion.
First Class passengers can also order cocktails like mojitos, margaritas, martinis, and negronis made fresh by the inflight bartenders.
Business Class Alcohol Selection
In Business Class, beer, wine, and spirits are complimentary but the brands served are more mid-range than ultra premium.
Popular liquors available include:
- Gin: Tanqueray
- Vodka: Absolut
- Whiskey: Johnnie Walker Black Label
- Rum: Havana Club 7 Year
- Liqueurs – Kahlúa, Cointreau
Beer options consist of Heineken, Carlsberg, and other mass market lagers.
The wine list has a global selection such as Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and Trapiche Malbec from Argentina. Champagne offered is typically Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut.
Business Class passengers can order from a selection of complimentary cocktails like bloody marys, gin and tonics, old fashioneds, and signature airline cocktails.
Economy Class Alcohol Offerings
Unlike First and Business, alcohol is not free in Economy Class except on certain routes. On most flights, Economy passengers must pay for beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails.
The alcohol brands offered for sale are more budget-friendly options. Liquors include Gordon’s Gin, Smirnoff Vodka, Famous Grouse Scotch, and various rum and tequila varieties.
Beer choices consist of Budweiser, Carlsberg, or Heineken. Wine is typically Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Economy passengers can buy mini bottles of spirits and pre-mixed canned cocktails like gin & tonics, rum punch, and vodka tonics. Payment must be made via credit/debit card or cash.
On select routes primarily to/from the UK and Europe, Etihad provides complimentary beer and wine in Economy. But overall, Economy fliers should expect to pay for alcohol onboard.
Routes Where Alcohol May Be Restricted
While Etihad serves alcohol pretty liberally onboard, there are some flights where service is limited or prohibited:
- Flights to/from Saudi Arabia: No alcohol is served on any Etihad flights to or from Saudi Arabia due to that country’s restrictions on alcohol. This includes flights to/from Jeddah and Riyadh.
- Flights to/from Islamic countries: Some flights to conservative Islamic countries like Iran, Libya, and Pakistan may have curtailed alcohol service. Any alcohol served is modest and complimentary.
- Very short flights: On Etihad flights under 1 hour, alcohol may not be offered in any class or only available for purchase. This includes many Middle East shuttle routes.
- Morning flights: In Economy Class, beer and wine are typically not offered on flights scheduled to depart before noon. This avoids excessive drinking early in the day.
So while Etihad does serve alcohol pretty liberally, passengers should be aware routes with religious or cultural restrictions may have limited or no alcohol. Checking your specific flight details in advance is advised.
Steps for Purchasing Alcohol in Economy Class
For Economy fliers who want to buy alcoholic drinks on lengthy Etihad flights, here is the typical process:
- Wait for the beverage cart to reach your row. Flight attendants will only sell alcohol once meal services are complete.
- Peruse the menu to see the selections and prices. Bottled beers, mini wine bottles, and mini spirit bottles are available.
- Tell the flight attendant what alcoholic beverage you would like to purchase. Common options are beer, house wine, or a pre-mixed cocktail.
- Provide payment via credit/debit card or cash. ATM-style card readers allow flight attendants to process credit card payments.
- The flight attendant will retrieve your alcoholic beverage from the cart and serve it to you promptly. Be sure to ask for a receipt.
- Consume your drink responsibly. Cabin crew may cut off passengers who appear extremely intoxicated or disorderly. Moderation is key.
- If you’d like an additional beverage later in the flight, press the flight attendant call button to place your order when the cart returns.
Follow this simple protocol to buy and enjoy alcoholic beverages in the main cabin on long Etihad flights. Moderation and responsible consumption are always encouraged.
Guidelines for Bringing Alcohol Onboard in Carry-On Bags
Since buying booze inflight can be pricey, some economy passengers try bringing minis or nips aboard in their carry-on. Here are some tips on this:
- Alcohol content must be under 70% ABV for it to be permitted. High proof liquors are prohibited.
- Containers cannot hold more than 100ml (3.4oz) of liquid. Bringing a whole liter or wine bottle onboard is not allowed.
- All alcohol containers should be sealed professionally and placed in a clear 1 quart zip-top bag for inspection.
- Be prepared to show your duty free alcohol to security and have it scanned separately.
- Consume discretionally – getting drunk on your own alcohol is prohibited in-flight.
- Only consume your personal alcohol; do not share with other passengers.
- Flight attendants may ask to hold your alcohol if you appear intoxicated.
While bringing your own alcohol onboard follows TSA liquid rules, moderate consumption is key. Drink discreetly and avoid getting intoxicated from your own stash.
What to Do If You Get Cut Off From Alcohol Service In-Flight
There are times when Etihad cabin crew may need to suspend alcohol service to a passenger displaying problematic behavior such as:
- Aggression, picking fights, inappropriate behavior
- Slurred/incoherent speech, confusion, loss of balance
- Passing out, vomiting or signs of severe intoxication
If you are refused alcohol service, here are some DOs and DON’Ts:
- Politely comply with the crew’s instructions.
- Drink water and eat food to help sober up.
- Sleep it off and sober up for the remainder of the flight.
- Accept that the crew is looking out for your well-being.
- Argue or get angry with the flight attendants.
- Disturb other passengers.
- Continue trying to order more alcohol.
- Take prescription pills to “sober up”.
- Get into confrontations or altercations.
Remember, cabin crew cut passengers off to maintain safety and order. The best course of action is to cooperate, sober up, and see the bigger picture.
FAQs About Alcohol on Etihad Airways
Can I drink my own duty free alcohol onboard?
Yes, you can consume duty free alcohol purchased at the airport as long as it follows carry-on liquid rules for volume and ABV percentages. Drink discreetly and moderately without disturbing others.
What alcoholic drinks are available for my flight?
The selections vary by the flight’s origin, destination, and cabin class. Check Etihad’s website or app for your flight-specific food and drink offerings.
How much do alcoholic drinks cost in Economy?
Expect to pay around $8-12 USD for beer/wine and $10-15 for cocktails or mini spirit bottles. Have a form of payment ready when the cart reaches your row.
What if I get drunk and cause a disruption?
You may be restrained or fined up to $150,000 USD. Etihad takes passenger intoxication very seriously given the safety risks. Drink responsibly.
Can I bring my own booze in checked bags?
Yes, you can pack liquor in your checked luggage as long as it’s under 140 proof. Place it in a secured, wrap-proof bag to prevent breakage or leaking.
What if I’m under 21? Can I still fly unaccompanied?
Yes, you can absolutely fly alone under 21. Etihad just won’t serve you alcoholic drinks – only age 18+ passengers can be served alcohol.
Final Thoughts on Alcohol Consumption When Flying Etihad
Etihad Airways provides beer, wine, champagne, spirits and cocktails to its First and Business Class passengers as part of the service. In Economy, alcohol must typically be purchased except on some routes with complimentary offerings. No alcohol at all is served on flights to Saudi Arabia or certain conservative destinations. Policies differ depending on flight origin, destination, and length.
When drinking onboard, passengers are advised to consume in moderation. Flight attendants may refuse alcohol service if someone appears extremely intoxicated as safety is paramount. Bringing your own alcohol is permitted if it follows TSA liquid rules, but discreet, responsible enjoyment is encouraged. With the right expectations and behavior, passengers can certainly enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two while flying Etihad Airways.