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9 Superstitions About Flying

Cindy is an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.

Taking pictures of your plane prior to departure might get you off on the wrong foot.

Taking pictures of your plane prior to departure might get you off on the wrong foot.

1. Photographing the Plane Before Takeoff Brings Bad Luck

At a time when social media rules, many people feel the need to document the highlights of their day and upload them for their followers to see. While this is seldom cause for concern, for those about to board an aircraft, commemorating the moment could have dire consequences for everyone on the flight.

According to superstition, snapping a picture of a plane before it takes flight all but ensures that things will not go well. The repercussions can come in the form of excessive turbulence, white-knuckle weather patterns, mechanical malfunctions or worse.

While no one seems to know exactly why capturing the image of a plane that's on the ground invites disaster, those familiar with this particular belief know that it's better to play it safe and forgo the photo op than to tempt fate and feel its wrath.

Gesturing toward the sky before boarding a plane can bring severe weather.

Gesturing toward the sky before boarding a plane can bring severe weather.

2. Pointing Toward the Sky Makes for a Bumpy Flight

The simple act of motioning toward the heavens on a day that you will be flying will call forth bad weather, or so says purveyors of superstition. They contend that even on the sunniest of afternoons when the sky is as blue as window cleaner, the gesture will summon storm clouds, resulting in a thoroughly unpleasant experience.

For those who don't wish to have their flight pelted with everything Mother Nature can throw at it, it's probably best to keep your hands firmly planted at your side until after takeoff.

Tapping the plane before boarding is believed to guarantee a safe flight.

Tapping the plane before boarding is believed to guarantee a safe flight.

3. Touching the Aircraft Brings Good Luck

We all like to receive a pat on the back every now and then and apparently planes are no different. Superstition holds that touching the exterior of the plane will give it the incentive it needs to get you to your destination unharmed.

The theory behind this one is that by laying hands on the plane in a friendly manner, you have established a rapport. Now that the two of you have bonded, the craft has an obligation to see to it that you get where you're going safe and sound.

As strange as it may seem, this ritual is said to be common among aviators who know better than anyone the importance of staying in an airplane's good graces.

Chewing gum can be a lifesaver on a flight, in more ways than one.

Chewing gum can be a lifesaver on a flight, in more ways than one.

4. Placing Gum on the Wing Tips the Scales in Your Favor

This tactic dates back to World War II when fighter pilots needed all the help they could get before engaging in battle. Supposedly, prior to taking to the skies, they would remove the chewing gum from their mouths and stick it on one of the wings. In their minds, this added weight—such as it was—tipped the scales of good luck in their favor. If things went as planned, their mission would be successful, and they would live to see another day.

While this sticky good luck charm might be permissible on small crafts, it is not recommended for commercial flights. Understandably, major carriers don't take kindly to having passengers depositing their used gum on their airliners. With that in mind, unless you've chartered a personal plane, skip this one.

Saving some food for later lets the powers that be know that you will be returning.

Saving some food for later lets the powers that be know that you will be returning.

5. Saving a Bite for Later Helps to Hedge Your Bets

This is another ritual that is popular among pilots. Before taking off, the more superstitious among them eat a partial meal, making sure to save at least half for later. This is done to attract the attention of the deciders of our fate who, being sticklers for completion, will see to it that whoever started the process returns to finish it.

For those who aren't prepared to order a sit-down meal before embarking, a bite from a candy bar or cookie is enough to let it be known that you have perfectly good food just waiting to be consumed.

To bring things full circle, don't forget to hold up your end of the bargain as soon as possible after landing. To forgo the leftovers is an act of ingratitude that will not go unnoticed. If this is the only flight you ever plan on taking, you'll be fine. If not, the gods whose trust you betrayed won't be nearly as accommodating the next time around.

Dancing onto a plane could keep danger at bay.

Dancing onto a plane could keep danger at bay.

6. Dancing Onto a Plane Deters Firebugs

If you ever encounter someone who is so exuberant that they literally dance as they enter an aircraft, don't assume that they're bursting with joie de vivre. Rather than being a happy pill, they may actually be trying to save you from a horrible fate.

As this superstition goes, dancing as one boards an airplane is a means of keeping fire at bay. An individual who's willing to brave the stares of strangers and shake a tail feather as they make their entrance does so to ward off firestarters that may be lurking nearby. Taken aback by the free-spirited passenger's lust for life, these troublemakers will perform their evil deeds elsewhere.

Rainbows are a rare gift that shouldn't be taken for granted.

Rainbows are a rare gift that shouldn't be taken for granted.

7. Flying Over a Rainbow Is a Stroke of Good Fortune

Rainbows are objects of beauty that are admired by people across the globe. Not only are these symbols of hope magnificent to behold, but they also bring an extra helping of good luck to those who happen to view them during air travel.

Thanks to the power of nature's kaleidoscope, passengers and crew alike will enjoy an uneventful journey. As an added bonus, the blessings that were bestowed upon them will continue long after the flight has ended.

Be careful not to tempt fate with a careless remark.

Be careful not to tempt fate with a careless remark.

8. Watch What You Say, You Never Know Who's Listening

The saying "famous last words" was never truer than in this ominous superstition which maintains that an individual who announces that a flight will be their last prior to boarding risks having their proclamation come true sooner than they anticipated.

It seems that declaring to the universe that you won't be flying again can prompt predatory soul collectors that are within earshot to make your words a reality, but not in the way you intended.

While it may be tempting to share the news that you'll never again require a boarding pass or be forced to navigate your way through a congested airport, you'd do well to keep that little tidbit under wraps until the pilot has announced that you have reached your destination.

9. Pay It Forward by Remembering to Show Your Appreciation

Last but certainly not least, don't forget to take a moment to put your hands together once the plane comes to a complete stop. This display of gratitude will be greatly appreciated by those whose efforts got you there without a hitch.

Not only does a round of applause congratulate the crew on a job well done, but it also lets any other forces that may have been at play know that their participation did not go unnoticed.

Resources

  • travel.com
  • theatlantic.com

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.