HELSINKI (AP) — Would you board flight 666 to HEL on Friday the 13th? For superstitious travelers, that might be tempting fate. But Finnair passengers on AY666 to Helsinki — which has the 3 letter designation HEL — don’t seem too bothered…. “It has been quite a joke among the pilots” said veteran Finnair pilot Juha-Pekka Keidasto, who will fly the Airbus A320 from Copenhagen to Helsinki. “I’m not a superstitious man. It’s only a coincidence for me.”…. The daily flight AY666 from Copenhagen to Helsinki falls on Friday the 13th twice in 2013. Friday the 13th is considered bad luck in many countries and the number 666 also has strong negative biblical associations. Some airlines, like Scandinavian Airlines, take these fears seriously and don’t have a row 13 on board. However, the negative connotations are a relatively new phenomenon for northern Europeans, and Finnair and other regional carriers like Norwegian and Estonian Air keep row 13.
It’s always fascinated me that in a society saturated in technology, fear of the unknown can still supreme. With no empirical evidence to back up the practice, humans continue to believe in all manner of superstitions. From not walking underneath a ladder, to not booking a hotel room on the 13th floor, to fearing anything bearing the number 666, it seems we all have something we fear for no rational reason. I’m not immune; if I look at my email account and I see 13 unopened emails, I have to open or delete at least one. I can’t explain why, but I don’t have a good feeling when I see 13 unopened emails, as if something ominous might happen. It’s silly and I know it, but it’s habit.
We have the ability to understand so much about the world around us, but there’s still much about the metaphysical realm that escapes conventional knowledge and/or understanding. If there’s one thing nature abhors, it’s a void. Where a lack of understanding or knowledge exists, humanity will invent reasons to make sense of something lacking a concrete explanation. I doubt anyone could come up with a valid reason why people might refuse to board flight 666 to Helsinki on Friday the 13th, but there are those who won’t do it. I’m tempted to make fun of that, but it’s no more or less rational than my reaction to seeing 13 unopened emails.
In a world in which so much is empirical, definable, and/or quantifiable, there’s still a gap between the concrete and the metaphysical. That gap is where humanity has invented explanations in an effort to understand what lacks a rational, provable explanation. I suppose that’s why religion has such a firm hold on so many of us. If there’s much about our world that we can’t control, perhaps a higher power might protect us against those things we can’t control. It’s not rational, but it’s difficult for rationality to exist in a metaphysical realm.
If you’ll excuse, I have a sudden urge to make sure I don’t have 13 unread emails….