Every Ramadan, as part of the five pillars of Islam, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food and water for almost 12 hours. Before sunrise, Muslims eat a pre-fast meal known as sahur. After sundown, Muslims break their fast with iftar, a meal that usually starts with dates and water or milk, followed by dinner. According to the Qur’an, if you travel 90km, fasting during Ramadan is not compulsory but when travelling is part of your job, things are a little different.
For starters, it can be puzzling to know when you’re supposed to break fast or stop eating - do you follow the sunset in your home country or follow the timing at your destination? And if you’re travelling, especially to non-Muslim countries, finding halal food to break fast or sahur can prove to be challenging. And these are only a few of the many questions left unanswered in your mind! ?
Well, who else to better answer all your queries than people who spend their careers in the skies - the flight crew members themselves? We spoke to two flight crew members, Juliza Binte Zainal Abidin, a Cabin Crew in Charge (CIC) who has been flying with Scoot for 9 years, and First Officer (FO) Hafiz Johan, who has been flying the Scoot B787 carrier for 4 years who shared tips with us on how you can make your trip more comfortable during this holy month ?
CIC Juliza Zainal Abidin FO Hafiz Johan
These Scoot Flight Crew Share 6 Tips on Travelling During Ramadan
1. Have an emergency sahur/iftar pack
CIC Juliza strongly advises bringing a water bottle, which will come in handy if you end up having to eat for sahur or iftar on the go due to any unforeseen circumstances you could face on your journey. You can also pack some easy-to-carry snacks such as dates, nuts, granola, or dry biscuits.
Another unexpected but helpful tip CIC Juliza shared is to bring a pen whenever you travel! “A pen can save you the hassle of waiting in line to write your immigration forms at the airport or you might even need it to jot something important down along the way”, she adds. Think about how much time you’ll save, which you can use to have a proper meal! ?
2. Have a plan prior to your trip
In Surah Al-Anfal, it’s said that “Allah is the Best of planners”, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing your diligent research! Come up with the necessary plans such as a light and flexible itinerary so that you won’t be too tired and a list of the nearest mosques or prayer areas to your accommodation.
Another useful tip FO Hafiz shares are to choose an airline carrier that caters to your needs! Scoot’s in-flight menu offerings include Muslim-friendly meals, which travellers can savour - be it for sahur or iftar. From delicious options such as Dhal Curry Basmati Rice, Mom’s Fried Rice, Chicken Biryani, Oriental Braised Beef, and more, these will ease your difficulties of trying to find a proper, filling meal that gives you the energy to last through your trip! These Scoot meals are tagged with a MOML label so remember to check that via this link when you book your flight ?
Now that fully vaccinated travellers can enter Saudi Arabia quarantine-free without having to take a pre-departure polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or antigen test on arrival, and you might be planning to go on Hajj ?, Scoot is the airline carrier you’ll definitely want to book with. With the most competitive air fares to fly from or via Singapore to Jeddah, you’ll be getting some of the best deals when you fly with Scoot! It’s one of FO Hafiz’s favourite cities to fly to anyway. “My family and friends always appreciate it whenever I have the chance to purchase Zamzam water for them,” he chuckles.
3. Follow the sahur and iftar timings in whatever country you’re in at that moment
If you’re taking short flights, CIC Juliza suggests looking up the imsak time (a period of time – about 10 minutes before the dawn prayer, fajr and fasting begin). For longer flights, FO Hafiz suggests downloading a Muslim travel app that has all the information you need - prayer timings, mosques locator and more. You can check out FO Hafiz’s app of choice, AeroWeather, which accurately displays sunrise and sunset times as you’re travelling! Since longer flights tend to make you fast for extended periods of time, FO Hafiz has a tip you could use. “Personally, I would follow the sunset time of the closest city that we are overflying, or follow the Mecca prayer timings.” ?
4. Decide if fasting is feasible for you
In Surah Al-Baqarah, it’s been stated that fasting is not required for those who are travelling. However, for both CIC Juliza and FO Hafiz, they make an effort to assess how well they think they can manage both their work and faith. “As safety is of utmost importance when flying an aircraft, I generally exercise my discretion not to fast while travelling so that I can perform my duty in my best possible physical state unless the timings are favourable,” FO Hafiz shares.
For CIC Juliza, while fasting while flying does get challenging, she overcomes it by focusing on her multiple tasks on hand. “For me, I’d prefer to be kept meaningfully busy, and thankfully, there are many things we need to see to, from ensuring passenger safety to providing quality service while working on an aircraft.” ?
5. Mentally & emotionally prepare yourself if you decide to fast
CIC Juliza advises that when it gets a little tough, always remember the significance of Ramadan. “It’s a reminder to be patient amidst an emotionally and mentally draining period, to be grateful for what we have, and to give back to those in need”, she shares. Even CIC Juliza herself admits that it’s harder to fast from time to time, especially when she’s on a flight to her favourite destination ?
“I sometimes feel disappointed that I may not have the chance to savour the local delicacies of South Korea during Ramadan, the land of my beloved K-dramas, but ultimately, I understand and appreciate the sacrifices we make during this period. And when I am out and about while actively working, time passes quickly – before I know it, it is time to break my fast!”, she added.
6. Embrace the true spirit of Ramadan during travel
For those who have to travel during Ramadan, including FO Hafiz and CIC Juliza, spending long working hours without food or water, and being away from family can be a little hard. But it’s the unique experiences and lessons they have gained during this holy month that keeps them counting their blessings. For CIC Juliza and FO Hafiz, this is sometimes evident in the form of meaningful encounters with those around them.
“A passenger of a different race and religion, on a busy flight on the way back to Singapore, really left an impression on me. I interacted with this passenger a few times during the flight through multiple call bells and orders for our various in-flight offerings. When I was walking down the aisle, he suddenly stopped me and said, ‘It’s almost time to break your fast, go and have a drink first. If you are too busy, I’ll come and help,’ he jokingly added. But that small gesture really warmed my heart, because he showed me such care and concern, despite our brief interaction”, CIC Juliza recounts ?
For FO Hafiz, when flying all over the world, especially during Ramadan, it’s the iftar meals with loved ones he truly misses the most. “Breaking fast with family and friends is something I look forward to during Ramadan. So, breaking fast alone in the hotel room definitely makes things a little different, but it makes me appreciate meals with them that much more when I see them”, he explains.
Just because the fasting month is near doesn't mean we cannot explore the world, and maybe some of us, like FO Hafiz and CIC Juliza, need to travel during Ramadan because of work or other obligations. Although it might be a slight challenge, fasting while travelling is doable with these tips. It can even make your trip a unique experience! Furthermore, fasting is meant to nurture empathy, compassion and gratitude towards our creator and others, and is not intended as a form of burden. If you don’t think you can fast, just remember to make up for the days after Ramadan! ?
With a robust network of 72 destinations with affordable and competitive prices, and in-flight meals that are friendly to Muslim travellers and are perfect for your iftar or sahur time, your trip with Scoot will definitely be a comfortable and fuss-free one! ?
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