Why airplanes don’t have a 13th row
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Airline passengers are a superstitious bunch. Many travelers partake in certain superstitious rituals when flying, particularly when boarding and upon takeoff. You may have noticed someone touching the aircraft upon boarding or making a hand gesture that resembles the sign of a cross. Maybe you have a lucky sweater or would never flying on an alleged unlucky day like Friday the 13th. Superstition comes in many forms.
Around the globe, flyers are filled with quirky superstitions (like the guy that tossed coins into the plane engine for good luck) that alter the way they travel – using self-coping mechanisms that provide them with a little peace of mind. Airlines around the world are cognizant of these superstitions and because of this, several do not have a 13th row on their planes due to the stigma around the luckless number 13. Airlines including Air France, Iberia, Ryanair, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, and Alaska Airlines (only their Boeing 737-800) are not equipped with a 13th row on most of their aircraft.
In Lufthansa’s case, not only do their planes omit Row 13 in many instances, they also exclude a Row 17 as the number denotes a strain of bad luck in countries such as Italy and Brazil. This is the airline’s way of respecting the cultural beliefs of their millions of international passengers they serve and reducing passenger anxiety while flying.
There are dozens of airlines based in Europe and Asia that purposefully snub the 13th row from their fleet of aircrafts. U.S.-based airlines such as American, Delta, Southwest and Jetblue to name a few, do in fact have a Row 13 despite a resounding belief in western culture that the number implies bad luck.
But travel superstition isn’t simply earmarked for planes – hotels and buildings also bypass a 13th floor. While it may sound a bit extreme to cater to superstitious minds, Gallup conducted a poll in 2007 asking Americans how much it would bother them to stay on a 13th floor room. 13% said it would bother them to stay on a 13th floor hotel room. The reason many hotels do not list the number 13 inside elevators is to avoid issues with guests that suffer from triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13.
In China and other East Asian cultures, whether a number is considered unlucky or not depends on the pronunciation of that number and if other similar-sounding words carry a positive or negative meaning. The number 4 is considered to be unlucky in countries such as China, Japan, Taiwan as well as others because the word for the number 4 sounds the same as the word for death. Step foot inside an elevator in many Asian countries and you may not see a button for the 4th floor.
If you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to sit in the 13th row on your next flight, may the odds be ever in your favor for at least an empty middle seat.
Here at TPG, our elevators don’t have a 13th floor, so we’re hoping that means our new headquarters brings luck.. or at least no bad luck.
Featured photo from The Points Guy archives.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees