EL AL Trialing Organized Inflight Prayers In Galley

EL AL Trialing Organized Inflight Prayers In Galley

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EL AL is trialing a new program on long haul flights that I think makes a lot of sense.

How EL AL’s inflight prayers will work

EL AL Israel Airlines has issued a memo to flight attendants, informing them of a new trial that will take place on flights between Israel and North America. Specifically, the airline will start hosting prayer gatherings in the rear galley of the aircraft at designated times.

Orthodox Jews pray at least three times per day, and a minimum of 10 men is required to form a “miniyan” (prayer quorum). The intent is that this program would allow travelers to pray in a way that minimizes congregating in the aisles. Here are some of the basic details:

  • These prayers will happen at designated times, which will be announced to passengers through seat back monitors and over the PA
  • The prayers will only be allowed in the galley, and won’t be allowed to spill over into the aisles
  • This is intended to replace the current ad-hoc prayers that happen on EL AL flights, which can sometimes block the aisle and inconvenience other passengers, especially in an era where people are more concerned about personal space

More fundamentally, there are differing opinions as to whether or not standing up inflight to pray is necessary. Some rabbis have ruled that prayers can be recited while sitting during flights, while others disagree.

EL AL is organizing inflight prayers

This seems like a smart concept

Given the number of EL AL passengers who pray while standing, it seems smart for the airline to finally introduce a concept that facilitates this while minimizing the impact on other passengers.

The only other airline we’ve seen with a similar concept is Saudia, which has a prayer area on select Boeing 777 aircraft. This gives passengers some privacy while praying. Admittedly this is expensive real estate, since you could otherwise install seats there, so EL AL has a more cost effective solution (which is just to use galley space).

Saudia prayer room on the Boeing 777
Saudia prayer room on the Boeing 777

The one interesting technicality here is that per US government regulations, congregating in the galleys, aisles, and near lavatories, is prohibited on flights to the United States. That doesn’t really seem to be enforced, though, but this trial does essentially condone that activity.

Bottom line

EL AL is trialing a new organized inflight prayer concept. Some passengers on EL AL pray in the aisles, which can be not ideal for those who aren’t praying. The airline has come up with a concept to address this, by hosting organized inflight prayers at designated times in the galley.

I’m curious to see if this concept works out for the airline, and becomes a permanent feature.

What do you make of EL AL’s new galley prayer concept? Please be respectful in the comments — this is an interesting initiative for the airline to trial, and I think it’s worth discussing, but only in a civilized way.

(Tip of the hat to Alon)

Conversations (44)
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  1. Steven E Guest

    And at this time / times where are the F/a’s going to go .. crew rest I hope - Or will they still be expected to retrieve food/snacks water from the galley - BAD idea - give up space - that would mean perhaps seats ? Which EL- AL won’t be giving up in a Millenium

  2. Jimbo Guest

    Saudia has quietly phased out the dedicated prayer areas on their newer aircraft.

    I guess it’s part of trying to make tourism profitable by adding capacity instead of prayer spaces, especially that Muslims have the option of praying individually at their seats.

  3. Bee Guest

    Etihad also has a dedicated prayer area with a monitor showing all prayer times based on location it's flying over and works just fine for both Muslims and Jewish prayers so this isn't new but catering to your clients needs

  4. Alexf1 Member

    I'm not a jew but I can see that El Al have to cater for their own in all respects. For this reason, if you don't feel comfortable with this, fly another airline long haul. Nobody is forcing anyone to fly El Al.

  5. Mashiah Guest

    As an Israeli living in Israel, I confess that the religious groups invasion of the public space is unbearable and unacceptable.
    Ultra orthodox Jews thing they have the right to tell you what to do like: on certain trains they gather together to pray aloud, on El Al planes, men would refuse to sit next to a woman (and El Al supports that behavior).
    Anyone should avoid flying that airline unless there is...

    As an Israeli living in Israel, I confess that the religious groups invasion of the public space is unbearable and unacceptable.
    Ultra orthodox Jews thing they have the right to tell you what to do like: on certain trains they gather together to pray aloud, on El Al planes, men would refuse to sit next to a woman (and El Al supports that behavior).
    Anyone should avoid flying that airline unless there is no other option or if you feel you can consent to any decadent behavior.

    1. Donato Guest

      i read this as totally different, ElAl is making an offer to make it easier for ultraorthodox and others to pray while onboard. This is in the hope of selling more seats. the ultra's are not invading, they are being invited.

  6. Ryan Guest

    That’s just what FA’s need. More passengers in their already small space. That’s their office, not the passengers inflight lounge. You pay for a seat, so sit and enjoy your temporary real estate like the rest of us. Why passengers think it’s perfectly acceptable to congregate in a crews work space is beyond me. If my clients acted like that they’d be asked to vacate my office ASAP. If El Al wants this amenity they should provide dedicated space like Saudia.

  7. Mike Guest

    Small correction... many rabbis actually don't just say it's permissible to sit for prayers on airplanes but rather demand that the prayers must be done whilst sitting ... the mere fact u wrote that ppl shud keep the comments civilized is the biggest case in point for this

  8. Steve Diamond

    it is so funny to read these comments knowing that everyone would be saying the exact opposite thing if it was a differnt religion that was more aligned with their political beliefs. Why does this matter who actually flys EL AL so much that they will be inconvenienced by this. I find it so funny that people will comment how awful this is despite the fact that they never have nor will they ever fly...

    it is so funny to read these comments knowing that everyone would be saying the exact opposite thing if it was a differnt religion that was more aligned with their political beliefs. Why does this matter who actually flys EL AL so much that they will be inconvenienced by this. I find it so funny that people will comment how awful this is despite the fact that they never have nor will they ever fly El AL making this totally irrelevant to their life but they will be quick to everyone how big of a problem this is.

    1. Sam Guest

      Thanks Steve for your comment.
      As a jew who reads this blog every day I really didn't like some of the comments and I think some of them should be removed.

  9. East2West Member

    If it was that important El Al would create a space like Saudia does.

  10. Icarus Guest

    Ridiculous. If you want to pray, you can sit in silence and meditate at your seat. Not necessary to make a huge spectacle about it.

    1. Eliyahu Guest

      No. As the post notes, within Orthodox Judaism, there is a clear preference for organized group prayer in a minyan, which allows certain prayers to be said that under Jewish law *cannot be said* outside such a gathering. (These prayers are in some cases obligatory.)

    2. Nelson Guest

      "These prayers are in some cases obligatory",
      Just stick to the Carriers rules, the one who dislikes just don't fly them, 'problem' solved! All what's bad on earth is always based on religion.

  11. Joey Diamond

    Sounds like a good idea though am surprised they didn't think of this years ago. I have flown on Saudia 777 that had the prayer area and thought it was a great idea. I only saw a few people utilize it but it's great to know there is a space for prayer up in the air for ultra longhaul flights.

    1. Moses Guest

      LY is under new ownership and they are trying to make LY the first choice in this niche category customer. That might be the answer to Why Now?
      The previous ownership came across as tone deaf in certain commercial aspects although they did build up an airline which functioned fairly well despite being an airline with complex issues to deal with.

  12. David Guest

    I don't have an issue with it, and in fact on an Ethiopian flight I once saw several Muslims throw down prayer rugs at an exit area. But I wonder if the rest of you would be so accommodating if it was a couple of Christians wanting to pray together.

  13. TM Gold

    For any other airline, this would be unacceptable, but I can see why El Al is forced to make this accommodation. These passengers are going to get up to pray regardless of what the rules say and you try to tell them no, they will have the ADL on speed dial when they land.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      And on AA or UA other passengers will have NRA on speed dial?

      ADL, as with NRA, doesn't give you freedom to be self centered.

    2. D3kingg Guest

      @Eskimo

      Guns must be checked in of course and have proper documentation. It’s called responsible law abiding gun owners. It’s ok for the criminals to have guns. No one should have guns except the police ? That’s called government tyranny. The entire point of the 2nd amendment.

  14. Creditcrunch Diamond

    I personally think there are times and places to observe religious matters no matter what denomination on aircraft at 38000ft is not the time or place.

  15. Pete Guest

    I'm curious to see how they handle this safety-wise. There is a limited number of oxygen masks in the galleys, so there should never be more people than masks. In a decompression this could potentially be really dangerous.

    1. Santos Guest

      Does the same apply to the bar on the EK A380?

    2. Nelson Guest

      Yes, the space is limited.

  16. hp12c Member

    It's a great idea. The ad hoc prayers in any random location while usually completely unobtrusive can sometimes be disruptive, so this could hopefully minimize congregating in the aisles or in front of the exit rows while other passengers are sitting/sleeping there.

    Just a heads up @Lucky, in your 2nd paragraph it's "minyan." You have an extra "i" in there.

    1. LarryInNYC Diamond

      Correct. A "miniyan" would be, like, three or four.

  17. D3kingg Guest

    Let them pray wherever they want. The bulkhead area near the exit row is fine. Just as long as they’re not going to take hours or bump into me repetitively. Someone whispering to themselves as they pray shouldn’t be a problem to other passengers. How is this all of a sudden an issue after 80 somewhat years of commercial aviation available to the masses ?
    No it’s not enough. Convert a galley into an...

    Let them pray wherever they want. The bulkhead area near the exit row is fine. Just as long as they’re not going to take hours or bump into me repetitively. Someone whispering to themselves as they pray shouldn’t be a problem to other passengers. How is this all of a sudden an issue after 80 somewhat years of commercial aviation available to the masses ?
    No it’s not enough. Convert a galley into an inflight synagogue. I had my bar mitzvah on a yacht. I wanted to have it on a plane.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Maybe consider the mile high club instead?

  18. Nelson Guest

    What a ridiculous decision. If you can't without praying for several hours then just don't fly! What's next?

    1. Nelson Guest

      That's not "next", that's already happening on several flights, specialy on holiday charters from people who travels once every two years. The pilots just do their work, imagine if you take a bus and at every stop the passengers start clapping. ;-)

  19. Eskimo Guest

    The next thing you know, some flyers who got banned from United will start praying in business class because it was empty.

    1. Moses Guest

      Just remember, the passengers that did a self upgrade were surely non religious Jews. The flight involved had timing that would eliminate sabbath observers.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      So you're discriminating people as non religious because they don't strictly observe Sabbath?

      Who are you to judge them... Wait, you're Moses!!!! Maybe you can judge them, LOL.

    3. Moses Guest

      I am not that Moses, LOL
      I am simply stating the obvious, Jews that fly with no regard to the Sabbath are not the ones that would be involved in public, block aisles praying on an airliner at 38,000 ft. No discrimination involved.

      I am also reacting to a common misperception; that the self upgraders were possibly ultra Orthodox Jews. That was not the case.

    4. Father Abraham Guest

      They only self-upgraded because G-D allowed them to self-upgrade

  20. James Guest

    If this was on any other airline I’d be strongly against it as I think we should be promoting a secular society where religion is something private without anyone getting any special favour or treatment (whether religious or atheist or agnostic).

    But given this is El Al it’s a fairly niche scenario for an airline that’s pretty integrated into the quasi-religious/race/nation-state situation in Israel and if it helps minimise one area of disruption to...

    If this was on any other airline I’d be strongly against it as I think we should be promoting a secular society where religion is something private without anyone getting any special favour or treatment (whether religious or atheist or agnostic).

    But given this is El Al it’s a fairly niche scenario for an airline that’s pretty integrated into the quasi-religious/race/nation-state situation in Israel and if it helps minimise one area of disruption to other passengers then it’s probably a good thing!

    @Lucky do you know if they have considered having some areas (say the back 10% of rows) as male only? As controversial as this is, from a practical perspective that’s also a common issue during boarding and often results in tension and offloads when orthodox Jewish people don’t want to sit next to women.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      I know Hugh Hefner is an unorthodox Jewish and he doesn't mind women sitting next to him. More likely he prefers them on top.

    2. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

      It’s not any more “controversial” to segregate aeroplanes based on gender than it is to segregate busses or trains based on skin colour. It’s not “controversial”, it’s unfair discrimination. It doesn’t “cause tension” either, the tension is caused by the intolerance of some humans toward other humans. If you want to exclude people based on something they’re born as, charter your own plane or simply just stay at home in your bigot-box

    3. pstm91 Diamond

      You are correct in theory and while I agree with your sentiment/solution, the reality is that people do not think like that and are not going to charter or do not have the means to. They will be flying El Al. El Al flights have had lots of problems with delays and other in-flight issues due to orthodox/hasidic men not wanting to sit next to women (my family has personally experienced this). I don't think...

      You are correct in theory and while I agree with your sentiment/solution, the reality is that people do not think like that and are not going to charter or do not have the means to. They will be flying El Al. El Al flights have had lots of problems with delays and other in-flight issues due to orthodox/hasidic men not wanting to sit next to women (my family has personally experienced this). I don't think allocating a section to men should offend anyone, on the contrary - why would women want to sit next to men who are bigoted like that (and that is not to say that all orthodox/hasidic men are)?

    4. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

      I do get that - but what is the difference between “some men don’t like to sit next to women” and “some white people don’t like to sit next to black people”? Do you think there should be a “heterosexual-only” section of an aeroplane, just in case some people kick up a fuss about sitting next to gay people, and cause delays for everyone else on the flight? Surely a far more simple - and...

      I do get that - but what is the difference between “some men don’t like to sit next to women” and “some white people don’t like to sit next to black people”? Do you think there should be a “heterosexual-only” section of an aeroplane, just in case some people kick up a fuss about sitting next to gay people, and cause delays for everyone else on the flight? Surely a far more simple - and elegant - solution is simply to not use public transport if some members of the public offend or agitate your bigoted/sexist/racist tendencies? We’re not talking behaviour here, that’s different; this is about things people cannot (and shouldn’t have to) change. Stone-age bigotry should negatively affect those who subscribe to it, not everyone else who has the misfortune of coming into contact with them. ~50% of the public are women, why should a small minority of bigoted men force a situation where women have lower ticket availability than a man for a commercial flight? It’s decisions like this which affect “the reality”, not just for the general public, but also for those poor kids who are indoctrinated with this sh*t. They need to see that this isn’t tolerated by people/companies/regulators, not have their parents’ inane bigotry indulged by imposing restrictions on other people just because they delayed a few flights by causing a public nuisance. In my humble opinion.

    5. Nomad Member

      Surely the main point is that women (or anyone) shouldn't have to sit next to men who are bigoted like that, and therefore those men should either change their behaviour (ie stop causing delays and/or in-flight issues) or get off the goddam plane?

    6. Eliyahu Guest

      My take on this has always been that I'm kind of surprised Haredi communities don't organize charter flights where they can manage the seating, institute rules, etc. in advance of and following holidays. They could call them "Mehadrin Flights"

    7. Moses Guest

      I suspect many people do not understand the issue. The ultra Orthodox consider touching (even shaking hands) or being desirous of a woman to be a crime. They rather not be in a situation where they might be tempted. This is quite unlike H.H. and many others. They do not hate or mean to discriminate. I used to be ready to volunteer to sit next to a scantily clad model although my wife (attorney) read...

      I suspect many people do not understand the issue. The ultra Orthodox consider touching (even shaking hands) or being desirous of a woman to be a crime. They rather not be in a situation where they might be tempted. This is quite unlike H.H. and many others. They do not hate or mean to discriminate. I used to be ready to volunteer to sit next to a scantily clad model although my wife (attorney) read me my rights and explained that nothing is safe now, not a joke and not a comment.
      One non extant European airline did seat Jewish people in a separate section, based on meal preference. It was felt to be very creepy and was stopped.

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Nomad Member

Clapping on landing

3
Ryan Guest

That’s just what FA’s need. More passengers in their already small space. That’s their office, not the passengers inflight lounge. You pay for a seat, so sit and enjoy your temporary real estate like the rest of us. Why passengers think it’s perfectly acceptable to congregate in a crews work space is beyond me. If my clients acted like that they’d be asked to vacate my office ASAP. If El Al wants this amenity they should provide dedicated space like Saudia.

2
East2West Member

If it was that important El Al would create a space like Saudia does.

2
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