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If you've ever flown on an airplane before—and I'm guessing that's about 95 percent of you reading this right now—you've probably noticed that passengers tend to clap anytime a flight's completed, safely returning them to ground and saving their legs from being cramped in those tight seats any longer.
It turns out that the whole clapping epidemic actually has a reason, according to This Is Insider, who spoke with a number of travel experts and flight attendants to weigh in on the topic.
Why do people clap when planes land, and where do they tend to applaud? For answers, we reached out to two flight attendants and a 30-year world traveler.
Kara Mulder, a flight attendant with eight years’ experience, and the blogger behind "The Flight Attendant Life", thinks the phenomenon is largely related to the nature of the destination: “When you’re going to New York, most people are going for business or going back home,” she says. “When you’re going to Vegas, most people are going to party.” (Speaking of which, people are very enthusiastic about getting to Vegas and availing themselves of its various charms: “Eighty percent of the time, [passengers] are gonna clap.”)
Mulder largely hears applause when she’s headed to a vacation destination: Las Vegas; Hawaii; New Orleans. “I’ve always thought about it as annoying when people clap on landing,” she says. “I do this every single day, [but] a lot of people don’t do this every single day. Usually if I hear clapping I’m like, ‘Oh, ok, that’s fine, but as a flight attendant…’” It gets a little old.
Mulder would add that there’s “a socioeconomic thing” at play, too: “If you’re flying every other week you’re not going to clap when you land; it’s normal. People who travel more aren’t going to clap as much.” (This, perhaps, explains to some extent why the applause phenomenon downright infuriates some frequent travelers, who are more accustomed to taking off and landing.)
There you have it, guys, the reason we tend to clap following a flight. You can read more information about the custom over at This Is Insider, which provides a few other insights into the matter.