When to Pray: Air Travel

Traveler's Questions: Crossing from Day-Night or Night-Day

Always say the prayer service based on the day and time where you are at the moment you are ready to pray.

Flying West

Situation: You fly west and take off before sunrise.

What To Do: If the sun will rise while you are flying, you may say shacharit from the time of alot ha'shachar on the ground below where you are when you begin to pray.

Situation: You fly west, taking off during the daytime.

What To Do: Say mincha whenever the sun has gone at least 30 minutes past the local midday where you are at that time.

Situation: You fly west into the night.

What To Do: Say ma'ariv. once it is night on the ground below you.

Note: On a long west-bound flight, you might not have to say any prayer services, since you might still be covered by whatever prayer service you said before you took off.

Flying East

Situation: You cross the international dateline passing through the night and are now back in the day you already experienced.

What To Do: You ignore the fact that you said the prayer service on that day and say it again.

Situation: You fly from Australia on Tuesday, departing during the daytime. You will fly into the night of Monday and continue on back into Tuesday.

What To Do: You disregard the fact that you already said ma'ariv for Monday and you say ma'ariv again. If your flight continues until sunrise, you will also say shacharit for Tuesday again.

Situation: You fly from Australia on Tuesday morning and cross the IDL during the daytime of Tuesday and are now back into Monday.

What To Do: You do not say any prayer service until your flight crosses into night, whether that happens in flight or after you have landed. You will need to say mincha at some time during the day.

Situation: You fly east but you do not cross the international dateline.

What To Do: If you cross into the night, you will say ma'ariv as you normally would do. If you took off at night and cross into daytime, you will say shacharit.

Note: When flying east from night into day, there is a very brief time period when you may say shema of the morning, since you may not say shema until alot ha'shachar and must say shema by the end of the third hour of the local day. When flying east, instead of having about 4 hours during which to say shema, you might only have two or so hours.

Note: Regarding saying the shir shel yom (psalm for the day of the week), follow the local day.

Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their web site for more information.