The fear of flying is a common phobia that affects up to 40% of passengers. To help combat this, many airlines have removed rows 13 and 17 from their planes, as these numbers are considered unlucky by some passengers. The superstition surrounding the number 13 is so strong that it has its own name: triskaidekaphobia. This fear may stem from biblical records, where Judas Iscariot was the 13th guest at the last supper, or from Norse mythology, where Loki, the trickster god, arrived uninvited as the 13th and caused chaos.
In addition to skipping rows 13 and 17, airlines have also implemented other measures to cater to superstitious passengers. For example, Ryanair and Air France remove all reference to their flights on Friday the 13th from their websites and email communications. Cathay Pacific offers lucky numbers for seats and allows passengers to choose their seat based on this belief. Singapore Airlines provides lucky row numbers for each cabin class on certain flights. Emirates has a special “lucky row” on some of its planes that is reserved for VIP customers only.
Despite these efforts, superstitions surrounding flying are not limited to airlines alone. In China, the pronunciation of the word four sounds like death in Chinese culture. Other unlucky numbers include seven in Japan and thirteen in Italy. However, there are also lucky numbers associated with flying such as seven in Islam and thirteen in Christianity.
According to Euronews, between two and five percent of the population suffers from anxiety related to flying with up to an additional 40% experiencing some form of fear during flights on a plane. Many passengers resort to rituals such as wearing lucky clothing or touching outside of the plane before boarding their flight in order alleviate their fears of flying.