It's Ramadan and I am planning to travel on British Airways, I will have to stand in the aisle for praying, is it the aircrews' right to ask/order me to go back to my seat?

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    Not sure whether you knew, but there is a Stack Exchange about the Islam as well, and it has this related question which talks about bowing and prostrating during prayer - if one is able.
    – Jan Fabry
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 14:49
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    Note that some larger aeroplanes may have a bit of space near the back around the exits and restrooms that's out of the way of the stewards and the aisle. I've seen people do everything there from yoga to jogging in place. You'll probably only get these on long-distance flights though.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 19:59
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    See also the Jewish take on this question on Mi Yodeya
    – Shokhet
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 0:56
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    Pretty sure the air crew can order you to do whatever they want, within reason, in the name of "passenger safety".
    – Iszi
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 14:24

4 Answers 4


Generally speaking, "yes". A BA aircraft is registered in the UK and therefore is covered by the UK laws. Under the UK law it's an offence not to obey the order of the flight crew while on the aircraft. Specifically, this is covered by the Air navigation order 2009, section 142(c):

A person must not while in an aircraft ... (c) intentionally interfere with the performance by a member of the crew of the aircraft of the crew member’s duties.

As you can imagine, flight attendants' duties include a lot of walking up and down the aisle, including rolling the trolley with food/drinks. If you are standing in the aisle you would be interfering with their duties. Additionally, they are tasked with ensuring the safety of passengers while in flight. If the "fasten seatbelts" sign comes on, it is their responsibility to ensure that all passengers are seated with seat belt fastened, therefore if you do not perform this, you are, in essence, intentionally interfering with the performance by a member of the crew.

With the legal technicalities out of the way...

The air crew are also people and are very understanding (usually) of others' needs. You should speak with them before the flight commences and explain the situation. Most likely they would allow you to stand to perform your prayer in the galley at the rear of the plane. Yet if the "fasten seat belt" sign is switched on, you will have to return to your seat and sit down - this will be mandatory.

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    I'm not sure what the case is in the U.K., but specifically here in the U.S., disobeying crew instructions will be considered intentionally interfering with the performance of their duties. If they tell you to sit down and you refuse, it is, in fact, illegal. It's usually a civil offense rather than a criminal one, though. It may also result in you being removed from the aircraft if it's on the ground or, if you continue to refuse to sit while airborne, they may even divert the flight and have you removed by police (and you can definitely expect fines if that happens.)
    – reirab
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 6:04

Yes, if aircraft safety or your personal safety requires it, you will be asked to sit down and close your safety belt. That is true for all aircraft and any time of the year.

Maybe they will allow you a bit more leeway because they understand that prayer is important for you, but if you do not belt in when it is dangerous, they endanger all passengers, that goes above your personal freedoms to pray.

Talk with the person giving you religious advice on how to adjust or handle praying when not allowed to stand, as it might be needed.
There are standard instructions for muslims who for several reasons can not stand to pray, you will likely even find those on Internet these days.

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    +1 Good advice in the last sentence, it is allowed for muslims to pray while sitting during flights, as it is considered a special case and praying while standing might cause serious injuries to the one standing and to others. You also can delay your prayers until you reach if you wish. I know this because I work for an airlines in an Islamic country. Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 10:25

Yes. If you stand up while the seat belt sign is on you will receive a sharp rebuke! If you remain in the aisle in the way of people moving about, you may also be asked to move out of the way or to sit down.

However, many people do stand up during the flight and as long as you don't get in the way, it should not be a problem. You may be able to find a quiet area near the rear exit doors, but that's also where the toilet queues are.

Unlike American carriers it is fine to go and congregate in the galley for example.

If you are concerned it might be wise to have a quiet word with one of the cabin crew (once they have finished their meal and drink serving duties) to ask if there is a quiet place to stand, just so that the cabin crew understand what you are doing.


You wonder if you can use the aisle for praying in a British plane, just because you assume it's unlikely there will be many muslims on the plane. However it's reasonable to expect that somewhere there are some flights where the greater part of the people will be muslims. In that case, there just isn't room for everyone to do their prayers.

You might ask to any muslim flight company what happens in that case, and I'm pretty sure the answer will be either:

  • everyone just prays where they are seated, or
  • everyone delays their prayers

I very strongly doubt they have planes with huge aisles just to allow everyone to do their prayers, and I don't think (though I can't completely rule out) they just do not schedule any flight during those occurrences.

Sorry to be a bit harsh, but I'm afraid the other answers are too condescending, and I sense your question is very confrontational, as in "see if they dare to prevent me from doing my prayers!!!11!". If I misread your intention I apologize.

If doing those prayers properly is too important for you, and if you are sure that your religion doesn't consider this situation (I strongly doubt that), then my suggestion is to reschedule your flight. You shouldn't want to be the trouble-passenger who prevents everyone from walking towards the bathroom until he has finished praying…

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    (-1) You might be interested to know that El Al makes arrangements for (Jewish) passengers to have space to pray. Islamic prayer ritual is a little more difficult to accommodate (Jews generally haven't prostrated themselves since the destruction of the Second Temple), but it's not an unprecedented question. I also can't imagine where you get the idea that there will be few Muslims on a British Airways flight. To Pakistan? to Cairo? The OP didn't say he was going London to Glasgow, although even if he were, about 5% of the UK are Muslims. Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 17:11
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    El Al is Israeli, not Arabic.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 20:08
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    "You might ask to any Arabic flight company what happens in that case..." First Muslim != Arabic. When on Malaysian Airlines I noticed that there was a prayer area in the plane and the flight screen showed the direction to Mecca
    – teambob
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 23:20
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    I cleaned the comments here. If really necessary keep it to the chat. But even in the chat, we don't tolerate when users are accused to be a murderer. So be nice and friendly! Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 14:54
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    @User In the meantime I also edited the answer itself. And now we're hopefully done with this topic. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:17

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