Meir Weingarten of Ariel Tours was kind enough to provide me with a booklet from El Al that contains the following:
Our sages show the way. Customs of Gedolei Torah During Flights.
Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner, author of Shevet Halevi:When the "fasten seatbelts" sign is lit, one should sit down and seated. One should refrain from praying in large groups; it is preferable to pray in small groups in the seating area. The same is true for Shemoneh Esrei. If there is a possibility of standing beside one's seat, not in the aisles, then that is preferable. If this is not possible the Shemoneh Esrei prayer can be recited while seated. If the fasten seatbelts sign goes on. one should immediately sit down in his place and continue Shemoneh Esrei while seated.Click here to read moreThe Custom of the Rishon Letzion, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef:
(For the full response see page 26)(During a flight) Rabbi Ovadia Yosef customarily prays individually and not together with a group so as not to disturb others, for fear of robbing another person's sleep. (Halachic Guide for the Passenger, Rabbi Rafael Avraham Suaya, Chapter 9, Para. 1, p. 76)Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. ob"m:Praying During a Flight - Sitting Down
"One who prays on a plane during a flight should recite the Shemoneh Esrei while seated in his place and not while standing in the aisles, where he will disturb others trying to pass. In any case, the Rav was not supportive of conducting minyanim during a flight, because it disturbs the rest of the passengers around them."
(Halichos Shlomo. p. 95)
In flight prayer arrangement
As a rule it was ruled that it is preferable to pray before the flight, even individually ("Ohalechah B'amitechah" Rabbi B. Stern ob"m, 4, 34, p. 40). The time of prayer is determined based on the sunrise (and sunset) that is seen from the plane in the air. (In cloudy weather one can ask the flight crew for this information). If the time for prayer comes during the flight, one should arrange the time and place of davening with the flight crew in accordance with flight safety rules.
It is very important to make sure that prayers should take place in an area where it does not bother other passengers, and will not cause unpleasantness for non religious passengers or the cabin crew.
It should be emphasized that a large congregation of worshippers in the back of the plane is a safety risk and in an emergency can physically endanger the congregants. In any case, if the "fasten seatbelts" sign goes on one must sit down in his place and fasten his seatbelt. If during the prayers, even during the Shemoneh Esrei, whether one is davening alone or with a group, passengers are asked to return to their places and fasten seatbelts, one must immediately return to his place, even in the middle of davening, and continue praying while seated. (According to the Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chaim siman 110, seif katan 10; also see "Uvelechtechah Baderech" by Rabbi Nuta Brizel, chap. 7, par. 17, and the following rulings by Rabbi Wosner and Rabbi Silberstein.)
Guidance from Poskim Regarding Prayers During the Flight
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ob"m:While praying on a flight it is preferable to sit.Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ob"m:
A person praying on his own during a flight: if there is a chance that this will bother others, it is preferable to sit (Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ob"m. Igros Moshe Orach Chaim, 4, 20.)Shemoneh Esrei should be recited in one's seat.Response from Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner, author of the Shevet Halevi:
In the sefer Halichos Shlomo, by Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ob"m, we found direct guidelines on the practical applications of prayers during the flight: "One praying on a flight should recite the Shemoneh Esrei while sitting in his seat and not standing in the aisles, where he can disturb those wishing to pass. In any case, the Rav was not supportive of conducting minyanim during a flight, because it disturbs the rest of the passengers around them" (Halichos Shlomo, p. 95)One can pray Shemoneh Esrei while seated in his seat.Guidance from Rabbi Yitzchak Silberstein, rav of Ramat Elchanan, Bnei Brak:
When the light goes on, one must sit down, even in the middle of his prayers I was asked regarding prayer arrangements in mid-flight. One should refrain from praying in large groups; it is preferable to pray in small groups in the seating area, as long as there is no problem of indecent exposure. The same is true for Shemoneh Esrei. If there is a possibility of standing beside one's seat, not in the aisles. then that is preferable. If this is not possible, because the aisle is narrow or it bothers other passengers, the Shemoneh Esrei prayer can be recited while seated. In any case, if the "fasten seatbelts" sign goes on, one should immediately sit down in his place and continue Shemoneh Esrei while seated. If a group is praying when the seatbelts sign goes on, they should immediately obey with no delay, even if they are in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei. (From a response to El Al.)A. When the captain of the flight decides that passengers must sit and fasten their seatbelts because of a risk of danger, one must obey and sit down, even if he is in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei.
B. If one refuses to obey these instruction, it seems that he does not fulfill the obligation of tefillah because it is considered a mitzvah haba b'aveirah (a mitzvah performed through a sin), about which Chazal teach that one does not fulfill his obligations. He also brings about derision of the Torah by others and effects a chillul Hashem.
C. There is no transgression in the act of sitting down. One must only refrain from talking, but he may sit down.
D. When one sits down, he should stop praying and wait several minutes until it is possible to return to where he was standing and continue praying. Even if the amount of time that passes exceeds toch kdei dibbur, there is no hefsek in the act of sitting, and after the break one can continue praying. (From a response to El Al; also published in the Kanfei Ruach booklet).