We don’t normally pay much attention when we enter a plane in a hurry to find our seat as soon as possible. However, due to superstition, some airlines have chosen to simply remove the row number 13 from their aircraft ; as is the case for example with Qatar Airways, Ryanair, Air France, Swiss, Delta, Lufthansa (who have no row 17 in deference to Italy, and Brazil, where the number has bad connotations). We skip from rows 12 to 14.
Astonishingly perhaps, not all airlines have the same policy concerning this superstition. XL Airways, American and easyJet, for example, have chosen to keep row 13 in their planes. So, with or without? What is the difference ? At first hand none.
The number 13 does not, however, have a monopoly on superstition. In some Asian countries, such as China or Japan, the number 4 is not viewed well, because of the homophonic pronunciation between "4" and the word "death" in their languages. All Nippon Airways, for example, banished rows 4 and 13 from their Boeing 747’s and 777’s. Alternatively, the Japanese airline seems to have reconsidered its position, since, as they confirmed to us, their latest Boeing 787 is equipped with these two rows. Could this mean a change of mentality is in the air which may well spread to other airlines ? Superstitions are not perhaps what they were, but do remain relative.
We find this phenomenon elsewhere than in airplanes ; especially in elevators, lifts, or in hotels. Some people have developed a real fear of the number 13. They are called treiskaidekaphobic, a word which is derived from its Greek root, treiskaideka (thirteen), and phobos (fear). And for those who fear the number 4, they are tetraphobes.