Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Gods Displeased With Number of Balls on Logo

Airline Logo Scares Superstitious Customers
ZAVENTEM, Belgium - Thirteen dots looked just right to designer Ronane Hoet.

Together they had the perfect balance to form a stylized "b" for the new Belgian carrier Brussels Airlines and the number also matched the airline's destinations in Africa, a key market.

This week, however, Brussels Airlines was busy changing the 13-ball logo on the tail and sides of one of its Airbus jets and adding a 14th one in response to complaints from superstitious customers in the United States and Italy.

In China, though, 14 is bad luck

Brussels Airlines had the choice to go to 12 dots or 14. It chose 14 because of the religious connotations of the 12 disciples.

Luckily, Brussels Airlines is not flying to China, where 14 is a definite no-no. Fourteen, or one-four, in Mandarin, sounds like the phrase "to want to die."

Although such superstitions were derided in China for decades under more doctrinaire Communist rule, they have made a comeback under free-market change. Some hotels in China do not have fourteenth floors, just as some in the West eliminate the 13th floor.

"The Chinese are notoriously superstitious. Certain numbers are very lucky and their business decisions are very much shaped by their cultural superstitions," Hood said.

Karplus felt pretty relaxed about flying when the gates opened for her flight to Geneva. Then she noticed the flight number "LH3666" -- and the last three digits gave her reason for pause.

"The sign of the devil," she said, eyes wide.


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