Would you board a plane on Friday 13th?
The process of boarding a flight is so commonplace these days as to almost feel like second nature. Almost. Whenever we've a flight to catch, we subconsciously, absent-mindedly, go through the motions of preparation as easily as tying a shoelace or changing the radio station whenever a U2 song comes on.
We note the time of the flight, arrive later than the recommended 'two hours before' guidelines (hey, we're relaxed, right?), remove belt buckles, empty pockets and lay out our clear plastic-bagged toiletries on the X-ray conveyor belt with almost military precision (well most of us do – there's always someone, usually the person in front of me, who struggles with an errant boot, a heavy laptop or has to slurp down two litres of water before being allowed to go any further), and go through to the departure lounges to browse the shops, buy an overpriced coffee and wait to be called.
So far, so familiar. As is the flight itself. You settle in, peruse the inflight magazine, ignore the air attendants as they go through their safety procedures, and await the serving of drinks.
But do you ever allow yourself to actually think what your body is going through? That you are sitting, strapped in, inside a metal tube that is hurtling you at 800km/h some 10,000 metres above the ground? You don't? Good. It'd be silly and unnecessarily stressful to do so. We've learnt to love flying. Accept it. Embrace it. Not question it.
Which is why it is surprising to learn that air travel passenger numbers fall by a third on Friday 13. As I write this (safely ensconced on the ground, I must say), it's Friday 13th. We're always told that air travel is the safest form of travel, but despite the impressive statistics (there were just 817 aviation fatalities in 2010), it seems people just don't want to take that chance on Friday 13.
Silly really – road and rail (which are far more dangerous methods of transport) do not experience anywhere near the same dip in passenger numbers on Friday 13. Perhaps on a day as famously superstitious as today, us humans take stock of what's reasonably safe, and conclude that flying through the air is a step too far, triggering some sort of inner primal fear buried deep within us.
Still, now that the airline industry has caught wind of this trend, expect heavily discounted flights on forthcoming Fridays 13...just don't be surprised if you find you're the only one willing to risk a cheap deal to Tallinn the next time Friday 13 rolls around.