We’ve all been there. The plane touches down in Athens or Thessaloniki or one of the Greek islands and some passengers break out into spontaneous applause.
Air travel has become a part of everyday life and for some, nothing to write home about. But if it’s so mundane, why do so many Greeks still clap the pilot? They wouldn’t applaud a bus driver or chauffeur.
One theory is that patriotic Greeks are pleased to have a fellow Greek as a pilot or to fly on a Greek airline. One internet forum user writes:
“Greeks clap too. Every Olympic Airways flight I’ve been on has ended with clapping upon touchdown. I’m always amused because frankly I’m happy too when my OA flight arrives without incident.”
Another guess could be Greece’s reputation as a holiday destination — meaning those who are delighted to have touched down are on vacation and, therefore, probably not Greek at all.
For those on charter flights, this may be their only foreign travel of the whole year, which would put excitement as the reason behind the applause.
On the other hand, those clapping could be Greeks returning home after time away — home is where the heart is after all.
There is certainly a cultural element to this, with passengers from the U.K., Germany or Scandinavia highly unlikely to break into applause as a plane touches down. Anecdotal evidence puts Greeks up there with Italians, Israelis and other Mediterranean nationalities in clapping when their pilot makes a safe landing.
And, for those of you curious as to whether your pilot — Greek or otherwise — can hear the applause from the passengers, allow one of the professionals to reveal all…