Would you catch a flight on Friday 13?
TRAVEL BRINGS out all kinds of fears and superstitions in people. Many passengers consider the number 13 unlucky, so it’s no surprise that lots of airlines do not have row 13 on their planes, including Continental, Air France, KLM and Iberia.
“Apparently, someone, a long time ago (we don’t know when), thought we shouldn’t have a row 13,” says a spokesperson for Continental Airlines. While many westerners would not feel comfortable travelling in a row 13 seat, it seems that Japanese passengers avoid the number four because it sounds like the word for death in their language, and the word for nine sounds like the word for torture. Japan based All Nippon Airways omits rows four, nine and 13, even though the unlucky reputation of 13 is supposedly based in Christianity and Viking folklore. In fact, many Asian carriers, including Cathay Pacific, Malaysian, Singapore and Thai Airways, also skip row 13. Meanwhile, Japan Airlines’ planes have both rows four and nine, but no row 13.
Over in Italy, the number 17 is considered unlucky because rearranging the letters in the Roman numerals for 17 could spell “VIXI”, which means ‘I lived’ in Italian. With this in mind, you would expect Alitalia airplanes to be missing row 17, but this is not the case.
Meanwhile, Lufthansa airplanes do not have rows 13 or 17. To add to the confusion, Alitalia’s Boeing 777s have row 13, while the rest of their fleet does not. In addition to excluding row 13 from their planes, many airlines do not offer a flight 13. And the Koreans take superstition one step further – there are no gates four, 13 or 44 at Seoul’s Inchon Airport.
Lucky travel numbers
Not all superstitions bring bad luck, however. In the west, the numbers seven and 11 are both considered to bring good fortune and both Northwest and US Airways offer flights 777 and 711, respectively, from Minneapolis and Pittsburgh to the gambling Mecca of Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, the Chinese consider eight to be lucky because their pronunciation of the word sounds like the Chinese for “to acquire wealth”. To this end, Continental Airlines offers a lucky flight 88 from Beijing to Newark.
PDM verdict: Spooky sense or irrational nonsense? Next time you fly – check out the terminals, flights and gates at your destination airport and you’ll get a unique insight into local superstitions.