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What Is Your Flight Takeoff Ritual?

by on May 20, 2014 · 44 comments

in Travel Health, Travel Industry, Trip Reports

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Today I flew from Paris Orly to Nice and right as the engines were starting to wind up, the hip guy next to me did a big sign of the cross and started praying feverishly. Wondering if he knew something I didn’t I started to get worried, but then I realized it was just his way of ensuring that the flight took off without incident.
sign of the cross 420 x 238 photo Animation-420x238_zps9531635a.gif

When I mentioned it to friends, they all started telling me their rituals which I found fascinating. One of my friends actually counts the seconds of the takeoff roll until the wheels leave the ground (he’s confident that as long as it is around 30 seconds all is fine). Another sings his favorite song until the plane is above the clouds.

Me? I simply watch with fascination and am thankful for the miracle of flight and that I’m able to see parts of the world that people would only dream of being able to see. Actually, I’m usually busy trying to find a good photo to upload to my Instagram- my takeoff/landing pictures of iconic skylines are among my most “liked” photos.

Even though I’ve had some insane flights, like the Air Canada flight 7 years ago from Toronto to LaGuardia where in the middle of a wicked snowstorm I actually thought it was going to crash after severe (read: grown men screaming) turbulence and two aborted landings. But I still get more nervous driving on I-95 or crossing a busy avenue in NYC- at least with planes you have a relatively high standard of protocol and experience, unlike terra firma (at least in the US) where people can buy automatic weapons, but not certain foods that the government deems too “dangerous”.

Just curious what other rituals people had and whether the frequent flyers out there still have anxious moments when the airplane is rolling down the runway.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Brett Jeffery

    I count the time it takes for the wheels to leave the ground. It seems to be about 35 seconds in smaller jets and a bit longer for jumbo jets. One time it took longer than that, and sure enough, the take off was aborted halfway down the runway…

  • Nick

    I always touch to outside “skin” of the aircraft as I step through the cabin door. I always love the thought that soon over 500 mph of air will be ripping along that paint. It started when I was little and to this day I always sneak a quick touch in, even during those rushed boardings.

  • Mark R.

    I always count to 20 after the wheels leave the ground – most takeoff problems occur in the first 20 seconds of flight – after that I figure everything’s “OK”.

  • Kenny Loggins

    Pop on the headphones and play “Danger Zone”!

  • http://osnews.com David Adams

    I’m so blasé about flying now that a lot of the time I look out the window expecting to see the taxiway and realize that we’re already airborne.

  • Laurie

    I love that moment when the wheels of a plane leave the runway. From the moment they stop taxiing, and the pilot pushes the throttle, and the plane is hurtling down the runway and then it takes off – I love everything about it and it boggles my mind that this large metal thing that is the size of several houses fought the forces of gravity and is actually flying (!). I like your phrasing of it – “thankful for the miracle of flight”. I feel the same.

  • Santastico

    I always do a sign of the cross and a little pray for a good and safe flight.

  • Eric Bottorff

    I don’t partake in much magical thinking and I don’t think my ‘rituals’ have any effect on the flight. I just enjoy doing the same thing every time.

    1) Touch the outside of the plane while entering.
    2) Mumble “just don’t f*ck with the wings” after the flight attendants remind us the punishment for tampering with or destroying the smoke detectors in the lavatory.

  • Alex

    I do the sign of the cross too, during push back and takeoff. You never know when some plane might swipe your tail with their wing lol. (i.e. AF A380)

  • Zila

    Look around the plane and stake out potential two empty adjacent seats where I can move to, after the doors are closed.

  • Alex

    thats what happened to me out of Sydney in March, the front landing gear on the Q a380 skidded a bit on take off..

  • Dan

    I too tap the outside of the plane with the back of my hand as I board.

    As for takeoff…I am watching the “distance remaining” signs on the runway to make sure we have enough room. You know, those black signs that are in increments of 1,000 meters?

  • Mike Jeske

    I never change my watch to the new timezone until the wheels are safely locked into the fuselage. The few times I have been over eager and changed before take off we have to go back to gate for one reason or another. Remember, it’s only weird if doesn’t work!

  • https://twitter.com/ProfCharlotte Charlotte (TYR)

    Look out the window like a little kid who has never flown before!

  • Brett Jeffery

    What surprised me the most about an aborted takeoff was that they had to wait like 15-20 minutes for the brakes to cool off before they could attempt another takeoff…

  • Marius

    I pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet during takeoff.

  • lindseywagners

    Nothing about flying is a “miracle.” And the whole sign of the cross thing is irrational. I mean, so if my flight lands safely and someone else’s doesn’t – and we both made the sign or the cross before…??? How is that explained rationally? It isn’t.

  • Anthony

    I’ll tell you what I don’t do….yell “Shotgun!” like when you’re getting into a car…bad day. They don’t let you ride up front. :)

  • Ben Price

    I don’t have any rituals. Quite frankly, no pre-flight ritual can deter a catastrophe. Period. :)

  • Marius

    My payer is not about safe landing of an airplane but about safe landing of my soul in heaven if airplane crashes.

  • lindseywagners

    That’s fair.

  • http://www.hypesouthflorida.com/back-again-and-gone/ Back Again And Gone

    I always have a window seat. Sit down turn on the iPod, fire up White Noise http://www.tmsoft.com/iphone-whitenoise.html and go to sleep. Everyone boards and most times I don’t wake up till were in the air.

  • Doncooke

    1000 feet; you’re closer to the end than you think!

  • Denise

    I do the same thing! Except I wait until cruising altitude. Last time I changed it earlier than that, we had to return back to the departure airport.

  • wwittman

    I thank the flying spaghetti monster for creating a world in which there is no need for pointless superstition

  • researchwarrior

    I’m not remotely religious, but I do have one of those St. Christopher surfer necklaces stashed in my carryon and find it reassuring to hold during takeoff.

    PS: Is that nun gif intentionally an incorrect sign of the cross?

  • Rob philip

    Somehow the idea of gods and other magic seems silly to me. I get comfortable, turn on the music and start reading.

    All those people thanking (or praying to) their gods should be thanking aerospace engineers instead!

  • Morgan

    I fall asleep immediately. For some reason as soon as the plane pushes back I get really sleepy almost every single time.

  • http://earth88skygate.wordpress.com/ earthskygate

    Earth Infrastructure
    Ltd is tentatively launching its new Commercial Project Earth Sky Gate
    in sector 88 Gurgaon
    . This project is on 75mtr wide road in Front
    and 150mtr road on side(2 side open) with 24mtr service lane.

  • zvi

    I quietly announce “V1″ , which means the plane is at runway speed and position where a take-off abort is still possible. Then, about half way down the runway, I announce “V2″, the position at which the plane is committed to take-off. “V1″ and “V2″ are true actual terms used by pilots. zvi.

  • ryan

    I’m getting in those last-minute calls, texts, emails. Important to sit strategically so the FAs don’t give you the evil eye.

  • Bryce Griffler

    I clorox the arm rests and tray table–does that count?

    No, really. Every. Single. Flight.

  • Bryce Griffler

    May have to do with the change in pressure and reduced oxygen levels once the cabin door is closed…

    well played, airlines. well played.

  • Karl

    The intolerance directed towards the religious among many of the comments is disappointing but not surprising. Racism, sexism and homophobia aren’t acceptable so why is disparaging religious belief?

  • MaSaBeMama

    Ritual has changed since I don’tt have to turn my iPad off! Used to wait for that first DING to indicate we’d reached 10,000 ft so I could turn it on! New ritual ( I fly southwest) is to pray my flight is NOT 100% full and my super sized husband looks too big for someone to want to smush into that middle seat. Never works! So I rarely get to indulge in my other ritual, gazing out the window and wondering about the lives of those below as we soar over

  • Rush

    Maybe because the other three are things you can’t choose? But yes, I agree with you, this isn’t the place to belittle other peoples’ beliefs

  • Rush

    Security is not a laughing matter, Anthony… ;-)

  • Ven

    Feel like most blogs and sites dedicated to first world problems (such as how do I go halfway across the globe while lying down to take a nap and eat caviar) tend to have a very % of non-religious or even anti-religious people on them.

  • The Crusher

    I like looking at the “yardage markers” on the sides of the runway go by. I always like to see how long it takes for certain aircraft to get wheels up. If no window seat then I usually just read!

  • Matt Apter

    LUCKY!

  • Diapers for Dumps Giveaway

    Look through inflight magazines
    to see if I have any published images…

  • italdesign

    Wait impatiently for the “you may now use your electronics” announcement

  • Arcanum

    Amen to that!

  • Arcanum

    Agreed. We should all be tolerant of each other’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof, which is also fine).

    That being said, organized religions and their followers are, in general, not exactly known for their tolerance, so I feel as if they’ve sort of opened themselves up to attack on this one.

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