Question: Previously when I’ve flown, I’ve been invited to join a minyan on the plane, though have always been uncomfortable about doing so. I am about to fly again. What should I do?
Answer: While the shemone esrei is also known as the amida because it should be said while standing, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 94:4) writes that one who does have to daven while travelling should do so while seated if necessary. The Mishnah Berura (94:13) explains that it easier to concentrate this way.
The consensus of poskim (Igros Moshe OC 4:20; Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 8:4) is that as davening with a minyan during a flight will bother other passengers, one should rather daven shemone esrei while seated. Additionally, a gathering of people davening together poses a safety risk.
In a letter to El Al, R’ Shmuel Wosner wrote that if one can stand by their seat without bothering any other passengers, they should do so; otherwise they should sit. One must sit, even in the middle of shemone esrei if asked to do so or if the ‘fasten seatbelt’ light goes on. R’ Yitzchak Silberstein adds that one who doesn’t sit under such circumstances has not fulfilled the mitzva of tefilla as they’ve done so by way of an aveira. One must also be mindful not to create a chillul Hashem.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 94:18) writes that one davening while sitting should still (keep their feet together and) bow in the appropriate places, standing in their seat to do so if possible.
Certainly, it is best to avoid davening while travelling if possible. The Mishna Berura (89:39, 42) writes that it is better to either daven before travelling or delay davening until one arrives, even though one won’t be davening at the ideal time.Due to the constant change in location when travelling, it can be difficult to know the best time to daven. One can view the ideal times for each flight at www.chaitables.com.