Heads Up: Pilots Secretly Cringe When Passengers Clap on Landing

Sophie Miura

In an age where making eye contact with a fellow passenger is a faux pas and most people spend the duration of a flight plugged into their headsets, there's something a bit old-school and heartwarming when the cabin applauds as the plane touches down on the runway. It's a way of showing your gratitude to the pilot for a smooth flight—or at least that's how most people interpret it. According to a recent Quora thread, airplane staffers don't see it the same way.

Scott Kinder, a 737 pilot who has been in the industry for over 20 years says he secretly cringes when passengers applaud at the end of a flight, Bravo reports. "Passengers have no idea what's going on up front with the landing, so how do they know what to clap for and what not to clap for? If a pilot floats a landing and lands half way down the runway, that's horrible and dangerous. But if it's smooth, he gets claps from the front?" he explains on the thread.

Fellow pilot and airline consultant Brian Nicolich adds, "Normally the applause is showing happiness they have arrived at their vacation spot—not [a show of gratitude] for pilots. Normal flights shouldn't have an applause unless it was a frightening flight for one reason or another. Then the pilot might deserve applause."

Is applause a sign of gratitude or a misguided gesture? Weigh in on the conversation in the comments below.

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