Frequent flyers, ex-cabin crew say no to MAS alcohol ban


PETALING JAYA: The call to ban alcohol from being served on Malaysia Airlines flights by a PAS central committee member has garnered mixed reactions from frequent flyers.

Norhanizah Ahmed Ahmad, who is the chief operating officer of Rey-Z Travel Services Sdn Bhd, said there was no need to ban alcohol as Malaysia Airlines is a commercial airline whose passengers consist of many races.

She said there was no issue as long as alcohol isn’t served to Muslims.

“We are not a 100% Muslim country but a multiracial one, unlike Saudi Arabia and Brunei,” the tour operator said.

Adding that Malaysia Airlines already faces many challenges, Norhanizah said the proposed ban would only further cripple the airline.

Christina Chan, who flies with Malaysia Airlines twice a month on both domestic and international flights, agreed, saying there was no need for a total ban.

“Malaysia Airlines has various destinations around the world with different passengers from different countries. It’s usual for them to consume alcohol with their food.

“If there is a total ban, we would not be able to cater to passengers’ needs, especially for those in business and first class.”

She suggested that Malaysia Airlines could perhaps limit the number of drinks served to each passenger to one or two glasses per flight.

Norhanizah and Chan were responding to a comment made by PAS’ arts and culture bureau chief Riduan Mohd Nor on Monday.

Riduan had called for alcohol to be banned from being served on Malaysia Airlines flights, saying that planes are not entertainment centres or nightclubs where passengers can do whatever they please.

As of Jan 1 last year, the national flag carrier stopped serving alcohol on flights shorter than three hours.

Another frequent traveller, Adi Azhar Abdul Majid, was neutral on the ban, saying there was no empirical data to prove that an airline would experience a steep decline in passenger numbers if alcohol was not served on flights.

Meanwhile, a former flight attendant said she had never encountered any serious case in which a passenger misbehaved after consuming too much alcohol.

Kelly Han said there are usually no restrictions on the number of drinks served on a flight, and that passengers are monitored to prevent any untoward incidents.

“We (the cabin crew) usually keep each other updated on the number of drinks served to the passengers to avoid over-serving.

“If we see any unusual behaviour, for example passengers being loud, rude, or disoriented, we will stop immediately. A verbal warning will be given if they insist on more alcohol,” Han told FMT.

She said based on her experience, different people had different capacities for alcohol and they usually made good decisions on the number of drinks consumed.

She spoke against the proposed ban, saying not everyone misbehaves after consuming alcohol, and that alcoholic drinks had been served on planes for many years.

Another former flight attendant who wished to be known as Nadiah said it was “a little extreme” to call for an alcohol ban in the airline industry.

Nadiah, who was formerly with Emirates, added that it was unfair to penalise passengers over the irresponsible behaviour of a handful of people.

“Many people who travel expect to have access to a few drinks on board if they choose to,” she told FMT, adding that passengers are usually well-behaved.

Nadiah pointed out that airlines based in the Middle East, such as Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways, do not enforce such bans.

In a written parliamentary reply, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Putrajaya would let airlines decide on the matter of alcoholic beverages served on flights.

“Airlines such as MAB (Malaysia Airlines), which fly to various destinations around the world and fly different types of passengers, need to meet their customers’ needs, especially for business class and first class,” he said in response to Khairuddin Aman Razali (PAS-Kuala Nerus).