Question: I am flying over Chanuka and won’t be home to light the menora. What should I do?
Answer: R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 7:46) writes that there is a machlokes among the poskim as to whether one who is away from their house can fulfil their obligation to light the menora by having a family member light on their behalf. The Mishna Berura (677:2) writes that one can fulfil his obligation with his wife lighting at home. R’ Weiss writes, however, that if one is in a different time zone to one’s wife at a time when he wouldn’t be able to light himself, then he wouldn’t be able to rely on his wife’s lighting. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Chanuka 13:4), however, writes that one can rely on one’s family members back home regardless of the time zone.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 2:OC:17; 3:OC:35; Yechave Daas 4:38; 5:24), R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 1:20:12) and R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 3:1-2) write that while one can use electric lights for Shabbos candles even with a beracha if necessary, chanuka lights must possess both oil and wicks. As electric lights have neither, one may only use an electric menora under extenuating circumstances, and one can’t say a beracha over such lights. If one was able to light a regular menora afterwards, he should then do so with a beracha. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:180:7; 3:240; 4:66) writes that electric flames are no good as there isn’t a proper flame. Additionally, having a lightbulb means that there is no naked flame (See Halichos Shlomo, Chanuka 15:3).
While Rashi (Shabbos 23a) writes that one doesn’t light the menora on a boat, the Maharsham (4:146), Aruch Hashulchan (OC 677:5) and R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 15:29) write that one is obligated to light a menora on a train. R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 7:67) explains that one doesn’t necessarily need to have a house in order to be obligated to light. Thus, one travelling by car would need to light (See Rivevos Ephraim 2:180:6).
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:434:5) discusses whether one should light a menora on an aeroplane. (This volume was published in 1974 when it was still acceptable to smoke on flights.) He writes that as one could argue that an aeroplane does not count as a place of living one should light without a beracha (See Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha 139:13).
R’ Asher Weiss (tvunah.org), however, writes that there is a difference between a train and plane, and there is no obligation to light at all on a plane.In conclusion, if one has someone else at home who can light on their behalf while it is night for both of them, they should light and be yotze them. Failing that, one can light an electric torch (preferably incandescent or halogen) if they want to fulfil the opinion of those who say one should ideally light. One wouldn’t say a beracha, though.