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So you're flying from, say, London to China, and you take a flight. Suddenly, you find yourself needing to daven. So you're shuckling, saying psalms, or whatever and then suddenly, out of the blue, the pilot says, "We have just passed Jerusalem. The city is behind us."

What do you do? You're supposed to face towards Jerusalem, but you're in the middle of the amida or some other important prayer that shall not be interrupted. Do you turn around? Do you keep facing East?

Assume you are standing while the plane is flying.

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    @rosenjcb according to answers here judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/3233/praying-on-an-airplane praying sitting in your seat is probably your best bet. Accordingly, you would continue facing the same direction (the direction of your seat). If your question was a broader question of what to do if you ever find yourself pointed the wrong direction in the middle of your prayer, then consider editing the question. – mevaqesh Jul 8 '15 at 20:12
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    That's a really long Shemoneh Esrei or a really close call with Jerusalem. – Double AA Jul 8 '15 at 20:16
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    I understand that you are trying to develop a scenario to understand the underlying halachic principle, but maybe a more plausible scenario (per @DoubleAA) would be if you were praying on a train (e.g if they added an east/west light rail route passing through the Old City and past Har HaBayis). – Fred Jul 8 '15 at 20:53
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    Maybe you should start in the wrong direction if you expect the end / the majority to be after the switch. – Double AA Jul 9 '15 at 0:55
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    Note that a flight from London to China actually goes nowhere near Jerusalem. From London, you pretty much have to fly to the Arabian peninsula to pass close to Jerusalem. At a distance of a thousand miles, flying at ten miles per minute, the angle to Jerusalem changes by about half a degree per minute. – David Richerby Jul 9 '15 at 14:00
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According to many opinions, as recorded in answers to "Praying on an airplane", one should remain in one's seat for prayers while on a commercial flight. Presumably, according to them, one's orientation would remain aligned with the direction of the seat the whole time, regardless of the bearing to Jerusalem.

This indicates that according to these opinions, maintaining orientation toward Jerusalem is not essential in the face of other considerations outside of prayer itself. Therefore, according to them it would seem that maintaining such orientation at the expense of interrupting one's payer would a fortiori be incorrect, even if one prays standing, contrary to their rulings.

These opinions inlcude those of:

  • Rabbi Yehuda Leib Steinman
  • She'eris Yosef citing R' Moshe Feinstein
  • Halichos Shlomo
  • Rav Wosner
  • Rav Avigdor Nevenzahl
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Mishna Berura 94:10 says that is one is in middle of Tefila and was made aware that he is facing the wrong direction he may not move his feet, he should move his face to face Mizrach. If that is not possible then he should have in mind "Mechaven Libo" the holy of holies "Kodesh Hakodoshim".

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    This is not a perfect analog as the misposition here is accidental not deliberate. – Double AA Jul 9 '15 at 0:56

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