Don’t expect booze or bacon on these flights.
Malaysia’s first Sharia-compliant airline (and only the fourth in the world), Rayani Air took to the skies over the weekend. Acting in accordance with Sharia law, female crewmembers who identify as Muslim must wear a traditional hijab (a head covering typically worn to preserve modesty and privacy) while non-Muslim crew are required to be “decently dressed.” All food and beverages served in flight will be halal-certified and a strict no-alcohol policy will be enforced as well. Additionally, prayers will be recited before the departure of each flight. “We are the first Malaysian airline to be Sharia-compliant, based on guidelines by relevant authorities,” recently named Rayani Air managing director Jaafar Zamhari said in a statement. “We are proud of this.”
Derived from the Koran, Islam's dominant text, Sharia law is a way of life for millions of Muslims around the world and acts as a code of conduct. Halal—foods that are permissible for Muslims to eat or drink under Sharia law—excludes pork and its by-products, alcohol, and animals not slaughtered according to Islamic practices.
While Rayani Airlines isn’t the first carrier to abide by Sharia law, Malaysia is officially billed as a secular state with a more moderate temperament. Other Sharia carriers operate in the more fundamentalist communities of Saudi Arabia and Iran. However reports of increasingly conservative attitudes have been on the rise over recent months in Malaysia, according to reports.
Based in the Island resort town of Langkawi in the Andaman Sea, Rayani Air was granted their Air Service License and Air Operator's Certificate from the Department of Civil Aviation on Friday and has since launched its inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur.
For now, the carrier plans to operate domestic flights within Malaysia using Boeing 737s before expanding internationally to Asia Pacific routes including South-east Asia, China, Australia, and the Middle East.
Michelle Gross is a Freelance Producer at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @mtothegnyc