Which Airlines Offer Dedicated Onboard Prayer Areas?

For those who pray on a daily basis, long-haul flights can pose a challenge since there is little space for the usual practice. Many Middle Eastern airlines have taken to creating dedicated prayer areas to tackle this, ensuring that their travelers can complete their prayers even while flying. Here’s a look at which carriers offer this option and how it is made possible.

Saudia

The most prominent airline to feature a prayer space is Saudia, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia. With much of its passenger base the local Muslim population of the country, a prayer space can be an attractive feature for passengers. In the rear of all of its widebody aircraft, Saudia has installed a prayer space.

The area is created by removing a section of economy seats ahead of the last galley in the center area. Some aircraft also feature a display pointing to find the Qibla, the direction of prayer for that moment. Larger aircraft can accommodate up to 10 passengers on the carpeted floor and feature curtains for privacy.

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While Saudia is the most notable airline for its use of the space, available on its A330s, 777s, and 787s, there are other Middle Eastern carriers offering the area as well.

Select planes only

Since creating the prayer area required removing 6-9 seats at least, most airlines are not too excited about losing out on the revenue. This explains why Emirates and Qatar Airways do not have prayer areas even on their largest A380s, combined with the more global nature of their passengers.

However, UAE flag carrier Etihad does create a section for prayers on its 787s and A380s. Passengers will be offered a prayer mat and area near the door that can be curtained off to pray. The screen also mentions the direction towards Mecca, similar to Saudia.


Etihad Boeing 787 Getty
Etihad now operates both the 787-9 and 787-10 ‘Dreamliner’ variants. Photo: Getty Images

Etihad offers prayer sections on its A380s and 787s without removing seats. Photo: Getty Images

While they do not offer a dedicated section, Emirates has said that it is willing to provide large spaces on the aircraft for those who wish to pray along with the basics needed. Qatar Airways instead asks passengers to pray from their seats while flying.


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For Muslim passengers who are accustomed to praying every day, airlines many airlines also offer some extra initiatives. You may have noticed that airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Emirates, and more all have the direction and distance from Mecca on in-flight entertainment screens. Qatar Airways, Etihad, and Saudia also recite a prayer before the safety presentation and departure, highlighting their national roots. While this might be surprising to some non-native passengers, this is common in many Muslim countries.


Qatar Airways Boeing 777-39P(ER) A7-AML

Airlines in the Middle East will usually include some unique touches to make local passengers feel more at home. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

In 2019, Boeing designed a prayer area for its aircraft after repeated calls from Middle Eastern carriers. According to MENAFN, this would see using the two areas next to doors and adding a curtain to the section. This area would then add custom lighting so passengers can request to use the space to pray while flying. This is similar to what Etihad offers on its planes and could be more widely adopted by airlines in the coming years.


Have you ever seen or used the prayer area while on a flight? Let us know in the comments!


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