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It turns out many airlines are that superstitious. Or at the least, they’re accounting for passengers who might be. Personally, being born on the 13th myself, I have no such aversion to the number — in fact, I consider it a lucky one. Air France, Ryanair, Iberia, Lufthansa and many American carriers are among the airlines that don’t have a row 13. Ryanair even explained it to the Sun newspaper, saying it was an “American manufacturing tradition”. Many hotels also choose to omit a floor 13.
Though the concept of number 13 being bad luck is generally a Western concept, there are other “unlucky” numbers you might find omitted by airlines. The numbers 4 and 14 are considered bad luck in China, because pronunciation of four is similar to the word for death — so you’re unlikely to find a row four or a floor four on carriers and hotels catering to a lot of Chinese travellers. An example of this is the Sofitel Sydney Harbour Hotel, which skipped out on both floor 13 and 14.
Another number you might not find on European carriers is 17 — this is seen as unlucky, because when viewed as the Roman numeral XVII, an anagram of the letters is “VIXI” — which roughly translates to “my life is over” in Latin. Particularly in Italian culture, this is considered a problem — but this seems like a bit of a stretch to me! Lufthansa omits this one in their seat maps, as does the Italian airline Alitalia. If you visit Italy, you might also find the number omitted in street numbering and hotel floors. Friday the 17th is also considered an unlucky day — much like our Friday the 13th — so don’t be surprised if you find some shops are closed.
It does seem a bit silly, because even if they’re numbered differently, there often still technically is a row four, 13, 14 or 17 — but superstitions aren’t exactly logical in the first place Here’s what Matt Daimler, founder of the website SeatGuru (which publishes airline seating charts) told Airline Reporter.
“I believe the goal of airlines omitting it is to help reduce anxiety that flyers may have.”
But, as with all superstitions, the logic doesn’t really stack up. “The row that would have been marked 13 is rarely actually the 13th row of seats on the plane. This is because the airlines typically skip numbering as they move from First Class to [Economy].”