Passengers and flight attendants reveal the most unique pre-flight superstitions, from kissing to twirling to traveling with stuffed toys.
Before each flight, flight attendants witness some interesting and, well, odd superstitious actions that passengers will take to ensure they have a safe journey. Airlines are even in on the game, with most avoiding row or flight number 13 and some airports skipping gate 13 altogether. Whether it’s something learned as a child, taught by a fearful flying friend, or a habit developed as an adult to help a favorite sports team win—passengers’ pre-flight superstitions run the gamut from curious to downright hilarious.
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Patting the Plane
As if they were petting their dog or giving a friend a pat on the back, many passengers stand at the boarding door and offer the aircraft fuselage a good old pat before walking on. Many passengers might try to be inconspicuous, patting the plane as if they’re merely using the aircraft as support to step through the door so as not to give away their superstitious act, but we see you!
Flight attendants have even spotted passengers giving the plane a set number of pats. If boarding is happening quickly and these passengers haven’t completed their pat protocol, they’ll step aside or delay everyone in line until the correct amount has been served. Two or three seems to be the norm, but flight attendants have seen upwards of ten pats.
The Kiss and Fly
Patting the airplane beside the door is one thing, but flight attendants have witnessed passengers laying a big, wet kiss on the right side of the door, too. It’s not the dirtiest of surfaces, but it’s not exactly the cleanest place to put your lips. Watching a passenger walk up to the side of the plane and apply what can only be described as a “peck on the cheek” definitely earns some attention from passengers and crew members alike.
The Cabin Boogie
It may not be the “Electric Slide” or “The Chicken Dance,” but don’t be surprised if you encounter someone doing a quick jig, twirl, or a tap dance once they set foot onboard. It never seems to happen on the jet bridge, but some passengers transform the forward galley into a dance floor once on the plane. It’s never anything elaborate, but the routine is enough to catch an onlookers’ attention.
One, two, three—how many rows are there? These passengers would know! Flyers that like to count the exact number of rows onboard find solace in the power of numerology. Whether the total number of rows is their lucky number or 29 rows (meaning 2 + 9 = 11) holds some significance, you will often find passengers walking and counting the length of the cabin before settling in their seat. One particular passenger stated it was rare that the numbers didn’t “connect” and allow for a smooth journey. The only troubling signs occurred when the totals arrived at “66,” “066,” or the dreaded number 13.
The Flying Shirt
Next up through the boarding door is someone who wears the same shirt every time they fly. These folks have said they recalled wearing a specific t-shirt on a previous flight, which took off and landed safely and without incident. Chalking the fortuitous journey up to their shirt, they now rely on this particular item of clothing for safe trips. As time passes and the clothing begins to show its age (and mileage), flyers have said they are too superstitious about replacing it. Some will patch or sew the shirt, while others wear it under a sweater or jacket.
The (Stuffed) Animal
The days of emotional support animals (without medical documentation) are over, but that’s not a problem for some passengers. Many adult travelers will bring stuffed travel companions onboard for good luck. Just like a child would have a favorite stuffed toy, adults can also find comfort and security from a faux furry companion. Although not everyone unpacks their stuffed toy from their carry-on bags, some passengers have been spotted buckling their good-luck charm right into the seat belt for added safety. One frequent traveler told me they once missed their flight and left the airport upon realizing they had forgotten their lucky stuffed toy at home. “It’s just not worth it,” they said.