The Real Reason Why Some Planes Skip Rows 13, 14 and 17

by SharonKurheg

You board your plane and you’re assigned to Seat 18A. You get to row 10 or so and start looking at the number of each row in earnest, knowing that your row will be coming up soon.

You see rows 10-11-12-15-16-18. Rows 13, 14 and 17 aren’t there.

Maybe your plane isn’t missing all three of 13, 14 and 17. Maybe it’s just missing two of those. Or just one of them. Maybe your flight has all numbers between 10 and 18. But it might be missing some or more of them.

Here’s why.

A while back, we published a piece on why some hotels don’t have a 13th floor. The piece has lots of background info and history, but it all boils down to superstition.

But it’s not just the number 13.

  • 14: While in Mandarin-speaking regions in China, 14 is considered unlucky because 14 (十四, pinyin: shí sì) sounds like “is dead” (是死, pinyin: shì sǐ) and because in some forms of the language, 1 is pronounced (yao) which sounds like (yào 要), which means will be, when combined, it sounds like “will be dead.”
  • 17: Some people think the number 17 is unlucky because an anagram of the Roman number XVII is VIXI, which roughly translates into “my life is over” in Latin.

Not surprisingly, the same superstition applies to planes. People who think that certain numbers mean “bad luck” might not feel comfortable (or may outright refuse) to sit in a seat in an “unlucky” row. Rather than make the generally uncomfortable task of flying that much more uncomfortable (and, perhaps, why tempt the fates?), airlines sometimes just choose to skip those rows.

an overhead compartment with lights and a shelf

PC: Sarah K / flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Photo of Qatar Airlines plane interior has been cropped

Here are some airlines that skip certain rows (it’s, by far, not an exhaustive list. You can check each airline via SeatGuru [not, it’s not updated anymore, but some of the info on it is still helpful]):




  • Air France‘s planes always skip rows 13. Some of their widebody jets also skip row 14 and still others don’t have a row 17 as well.
  • All of Austrian Airlines‘ planes skip row 13. The same goes for those of Iberia and ITA
  • All of Edelweiss Air‘s planes skip row 13 and some don’t have a row 14, as well.
  • Lufthansa planes always skip rows 13 and 17 (and a few skip 14, as well).

Middle East


There are probably some airlines in Oceania that don’t have a 13th row; I just couldn’t find one. 😉


Some (but not all) of British Airways‘ planes, both widebody and narrowbody, don’t have a row 13.

As a general rule, Ryanair skips Row 13. So does Virgin Atlantic.


Although the majority of hotels in the U.S. skip the 13th floor, most airlines in this country use all numbers for their domestic planes. The only outliers are Allegiant, Hawaiian and United, which all tend to skip Row 13 nearly all the time, and Alaska (only their 737-800s skip row 13).

United also skips a few other rows, but it has little to do with superstition and more to do with seating maps, math equations and space. Travel & Leisure described the basis behind the airline’s decision for this in the July, 2022 issue.


Some airlines are, with certainty, skipping rows in the name of superstition.

Others may simply be skipping multiple row numbers, especially between higher classes and economy classes. Because of seat configurations, rows 13, 14 and 17 may or may not be included there, but it may not be because of superstitious reasons.

It’s also noted that sometimes row 13 (or 14. Or occasionally 17) may be considered “lucky”…on some airlines’ planes, it’s the exit row. 😉

Feature Photo: Lufthansa

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