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Flight Attendant Explains Why Most Airplanes Are All ‘Missing’ the Same Row

Airports + Flying
by Nickolaus Hines Apr 1, 2024

When it comes to picking your seat on any given flight, the first question is usually aisle or window seat? Many frequent travelers can be neatly split into two types of people on their preference there alone. Once that’s settled, the next question is which row. The back of the plane typically has more availability, but could make getting off the plane take longer, while the front of the plane typically carries a premium cost. On flights around the world, however, you probably won’t be able to find seats in one row in particular: 13.

“This is a practice followed by many airlines worldwide,” flight attendant _hennylim_ notes in a TikTok video. While the particular plane used as an example is an Airbus 320, the numbering skip is near universal among Western airlines for the same reason you’re unlikely to find many hotels with a floor 13.

@_hennylim_ Why almost airline doesn’t have row number 13? Check this video out to know! Follow my Official Facebook Page: “Henny Joyce Lim” #fyp #HJL #cabincrewlife #13throwmissing #cebupacific #groundstop ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

The fear of the number 13 is called “triskaidekaphobia.” There are various theories as to why 13 is avoided by so many Western cultures. Some say that it’s because it follows 12, which is the nice, round number we see everywhere from the months of the year to the zodiac signs to rulers. Adding one extra can make the vibe feel off. Historically, 13 has not been a great number in Western religions. Balder, a favored Nordic god, was killed by Loki, god of mischief, in the story of a Valhalla banquet when he turned a dinner party of 12 to one of 13. In the Bible, the 13th apostle was the one who allegedly betrayed Jesus.

Thirteen isn’t ominous for everyone — Taylor Swift has a particular preference for the number since her birthday is on December 13, for example — but it causes issues for enough people for companies to hide that a person is assigned “13” anything. Brussels Airlines even changed its logo in 2006 because it used 13 dots to create its image.

The practice doesn’t literally skip a row, of course. It’s all a mind game to try and make people feel more at ease — one that could lead to emergency rescue crew confusion if they’re counting things on their own versus using what the guest was told. If you have some triskaidekaphobia of your own that isn’t easily calmed by the wrong row number listed, it’s probably best to count the rows yourself.

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