The third question of Fatwa no. 6430
Q3: What is the ruling on a Muslim who boards a crowded plane and is forced to one of the following cases?
1. A group of women surround him; two on each side, one in front of him and a fourth one behind him.
2. He sits face to face with a non-Mahram (not a spouse or an unmarriageable relative) woman, Arab or other.
3. He sits beside a non-Mahram woman who may be very old.
4. His seat faces the flight hostess who sits in her seat for a short period after takeoff and before landing of the plane.
Sometimes, there are no empty seats left on the plane, or the passengers refuse to exchange seats so that the crew cannot do anything to help him change an inappropriate situation.
If traveling by plane is necessary and the cases you mentioned are inevitable, you should choose the case which involves less Fitnah (temptation) based on the rule of applying the lesser of two harms or evils. Additionally, you should lower your gaze as much as possible.
However, if traveling by plane is not necessary and you have other alternatives, you should avoid that to guard your faith.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.
The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’