The first thing you notice when walking down the aisle of an airplane is the rows. Row 1, 2, 3… and then it stops at row 12. What do pilots and other aviation enthusiasts know that we don’t? The answer to this question can be found in a blog post titled “Do Airplanes Have a Row 13?”
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Do Airplanes Omit A Row 13?
Airplane manufacturers are apparently a pretty superstitious bunch, or at least they believe their customers are, because they tend to omit a row 13 from the airplane. The number 13 is considered unlucky in many cultures including throughout many parts of the United States, and the airlines have found it easier to simply omit this row entirely rather than to try to convince some passengers that they are truly not in any more danger in this row than any other.
Other Unlucky Numbers Are Sometimes Skipped As Well
There are other numbers considered unlucky by many cultures that have been skipped on planes as well. The numbers 14 and 17 are also considered unlucky to many cultures around the world for various reasons. In the case of the number 17, it translates to the Roman numerals XVII which can be read as “the life is over” if presented in an anagram form. It might seem far-fetched that people would care about something like this, but they do.
Most people are not fully aware of why they find certain numbers unlucky. Generally, they have always just been told that certain numbers are unlucky, and they don’t question the wisdom of those who tell them these things. Incorporating that idea into life early enough can have a lasting impact on the impressions that one has about certain numbers far into the future. It is something that businesses have to adapt for constantly.
Anxiety About Flying
It has been proven that it is statistically much safer to fly on an airplane than to drive in your car to work on any given day. That said, a full forty percent of Americans reported to the Washington Post that they had at least some anxiety about flying.
This means that on a crowded flight of around 200 passengers or so, about 80 of them will have at least some anxiety about the trip that they are about to embark on.
Some report their fear as being associated with a fear of heights, others fear a hostile takeover of the plane by those who wish to do them harm, and some simply fear a mechanical failure could cause the plane to crash into the earth. Regardless, anxiety levels are generally high in airports and even on board the planes.
Some airports and airliners have brought on dogs to the airports that are there to help people with their issues with anxiety about getting on the plane. The dogs are specifically trained to work with people to help keep them calm and allow them to get into a better mindset about getting on board. The dogs are happy to be petted peacefully and will respond to the emotions that the passengers put onto them.
Why Airlines Omit Row 13
The reality for the airlines is that it is hardly any sacrifice at all to skip over the number 13 when numbering off their rows. They can simply go from 12 to 14 and not miss a beat. It is a small accommodation that they make for their customers.
The airlines believe that they would likely lose some of their revenue if they were to offer a row 13 because certain customers simply would forgo purchasing a ticket at all rather than buy one that put them squarely in that row. It is something that the airlines have found to be helpful to maintaining the customer base that they have while at the same time trying to grow out their workforce even more.
There are other places that have found the benefits of going above and beyond when it comes to removing superstitious numbers from certain things that they offer to their customers. It is common to see numbers like 13 or 666 removed from school lockers or gyms as well. Anything that a company or institution can do to distance itself from numbers that the public finds objectionable is something that they are likely to do.
Understand that rationally there is no reason to fear the number 13, and there is no reason why that row would be in any more danger than rows 12 or 14. At the same time, understand that it is not that big of a deal for an airliner to remove the number.
The fact that airliners so often remove the 13th row has everything to do with keeping customers happy and calm, and it is really no economic loss for the airline itself. Sometimes, a small change like this that has few or no negative side effects just makes sense from a business perspective.
The next time you are on an airplane, try to take a closer look around at the various details that are available to you. The missing 13th row is something that you might not have paid any attention to in the past, but it is something that will surely catch your eye every time now that you are equipped with this information.