Virgin America has a 13th Row, I even sat in it and it was ok. Photo from

Virgin America has a 13th Row, I even sat in it and it was ok. Photo from

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! While you are watching out for black cats and ladders today, you might want to avoid sitting in row 13. Some airlines make it easier for you to avoid.

Many years ago I would fly Reno Air quite a bit between Seattle, WA and Reno, NV (it was bought by American Airlines in 1999).  During one of my flights I was in row 14. As normal I walked down the aisle counting up to find my seat: 10, 11, 12, 14. Where was row 13? I ended up asking a flight attendant and she stated it was a sign of bad luck and they didn’t want any of their passengers to feel unlucky before going to Reno. This made sense; the airline made their business off a city based on luck and they wouldn’t want anyone to perceive any bad luck on one of their flights.

More recently, when I flew on AirTran for their wi-fi announcement, I noticed they also didn’t have a 13th row. It got me thinking, are there that many superstitious  travelers afraid of the number 13?  I decided to push my luck and find out why some airlines do not have a 13th row.

Using my own experience, talking with people from the airlines, and using I found these airlines  do NOT have a 13th row:  AirFrance, Iberia, Ryanair, AirTran, Continental, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, and Alaska Airlines (but only on their Boeing 737-800’s).

I first spoke with Jennifer Janzen, Corporate Communications Manager with Lufthansa airlines and she explained to me that they also do not have a 17th row. Janzen informed me, “On board Lufthansa aircraft correspondingly the twelfth row is followed by the 14th. The attentive passenger, however, will also notice the absence of row 17. The reason is that in Italy and Brazil, 17 is regarded as unlucky.” On the other side, she pointed out that Lufthansa will use “Gate 13” and has a flight number LF-013 that leaves Hamburg bound for Frankfurt daily.

USA Today asked Continental about the 13th row in 2005 and they stated, “Apparently someone a long time ago (we don’t know when) thought we shouldn’t have a row 13. We have let the row numbering system persist, especially since we don’t want to go through the expense of renumbering rows on about 600 aircraft.”

Judy Graham-Weaver, a spokesperson for AirTran told USA Today, “Most people wouldn’t want to sit there. Whether we believe in the superstition or not if it’s the perception of the community we need to go by that.”

Of course this makes sense. There are a lot of passengers who fear flying and the number “13” doesn’t have the most positive thoughts attached to it. This explains why airlines have their entire fleets with or without a 13th row, but I wondered, why did Alaska Airlines have a 13th row in all planes except their Boeing 737-800’s?

Geoff Pettis, Manager of Interior Engineering with Alaska Airlines, cleared up my confusion by telling me the Boeing 737-800’s were not originally supposed to be their planes. “Alaska Airlines was already operating the 737-700 and 737-900 when the decision was made to start operating the 737-800s.  Due to cancellations by other airlines, Alaska was able to practically buy the first couple right off the assembly line.  However, this compressed time frame meant Alaska was not able to spec out [design] the cabin as would have normally happened.” To keep the layout consistent, they continued to order new 800’s without a 13th row, “but not because of any superstition.”

I also wanted to get an opinion from a seat expert or a seat guru, if you will. I spoke with Matt Daimler, Founder of on what he thinks about the 13th row. “I believe the goal of airlines omitting it is to help reduce anxiety that flyers may have.” He did tell me he has two concerns with the 13th row. First, “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 Coach.” His second issue was, “The airlines that omit row 13 have flight numbers such as 113 and 213, which seem equally unlucky to me.” Daimler says he has no problem flying in the 13th row, “unless SeatGuru says it’s a red seat [bad seat to sit in] of course!.”

A simple question led to some interesting answers. Do any of you fear riding in the 13th row of an airplane? How about flying on Friday the 13th or from Gate 13?

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
Greetings from 36,239 Feet!

As an international pilot it’s kind of funny to me that I never really paid attention to the missing rows though I have always noticed that many hotels do not have a floor 13. I am sure this fact does not get by someone who has a fear of the number 13. People who have a phobia are intently focused on that fear. For example, someone who is afraid of spiders will notice them everywhere. My focus is to help people overcome fear of flying and now I realize maybe I have a new niche! I will be posting a link to this on my blog because I know my readers will enjoy it.

Well, glad to help you find new clients :).

What is your number one advice for people who have fear of flying?

Many smaller aircraft in Australia have Row 13 as the exit, so you could say it is lucky! :)

Hasn’t anyone noticed that row 13 can’t crash without the same happening of all the non-13 rows?

Hello Capt Tom!

Totally agree. Person in row 13 will have about the same luck as everyone else on the plane!

THis is funny indeed.
Row 13 may be absent but, the 13th row is ever present! SUperstition is an error but superstitious men persist in devilishly. Probably they ignore that errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum.
But….believe me: if they assign to me a seat n. 13 or 17, a row 13 or 17, I don’t go away.
Ciao :-)
Giorgio from Italy

I think this whole 13 thing is very childish of the companies.

It’s good if all the airliners maintain to have the same seats ordaring number from 1 to the last (offcourse it depends on the type of the aircraft).
As some said, the unlucky on the row 13th will be also for the all who is onbord that time, so I feel there is a favourite seat for everyone but no unlucky seat.
In fact, the row 13 is availabe on each aircraft only without number!!!


Hey I travel a lot and I have never noticed the absence of row 13 or 17 on some airlines. What is the historical significance of this phobia?

13th is on every pln only missin is the the folks just fools themself…

hamza arif

why dont find 13 in the plane

As a regular passenger I think it’s very cool for companies to have little quirks. It makes them unique and provides good conversation. Check out the quirks of Kulula an airliner in South Africa the way they paint slogans on their planes and the way the piolets always make jokes and keeps the passengers amused during the flight – apparently it’s a requirement – very cool and quirky.

Sounds funny ,,, it doesn’t make any sense …as said ,,,its always not must the seat # 13 should be actually 13th row.. numbering change from First class to economy class.

I notice it while travelling with AirAsia,,, few times i ignore it, thinking i might not notice, but one time i check it and just got a thought ,,, WHY NOT 13th…??

Well Educated Western people still believe in such non-sense superstitious … hahaha


A few Western people still believe in supernatural creatures living somewhere up in the sky and others under the ground.

Dear author. Thanks for this article. I am in South Africa and I was flying British Airways today. I was in row 14. I looked for row 13 and couldn’t find it. I quickly googled this mind boggler as soon as I got home and this article answered me. Rgds

Agniva Majumder

Thought it would be something more interesting.
Now I have to read 12other blogs (13blogs)
to seriously beleive this.

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