There is nothing quite like the feeling of relief that comes after landing back on the ground after a bumpy flight. Although you might feel compelled to express your gratitude by applauding the pilot, you may want to reconsider.
A pilot has revealed that pilots hate it when passengers clap after a plane has been landed.
On Q&A internet forum Quora, Scott Kinder, a 737 captain of a major US airline, described the behaviour as ignorant.
“Don’t even think about it. Passengers really have no idea what’s going on upfront with the landing, so how do they know what to clap for and what not to clap for?” Kinder said.
“If a pilot floats a landing and lands halfway down the runway, that’s horrible and dangerous. But if it’s smooth, he gets claps from the back?”
“Or a pilot comes in with heavy crosswinds and a snowy short runway. To be a good safe pilot, he’s going to put it down fast and hard, and the pilots will say nice job to each other after that. Guess what the pilot hears from deplaning passengers? ‘Nice landing, ever hear of flaring?’, ‘You must have been Navy’ or ‘Worst landing I’ve ever had’.”
So, a smooth landing doesn’t necessarily mean it was a skillful and safe landing.
Another pilot, Peter Wheeler, agreed, explaining how applaud doesn’t mean anything to a professional pilot.
“The passengers cannot determine the technical quality of the landing and are not expert judges of technique. Sometimes a smooth landing is the exact wrong thing to do,” he said.
“Sometimes a smooth landing was achieved at the expense of other important things, like touching down on the correct part of the runway.”
Next time you hear a passenger applauding at the end of a flight, there is a good chance it doesn’t mean anything to the pilots.
“The point being, we really don’t pay attention to any applause from the back because we grade ourselves based on the situation that day. We’re not really interested in what seat 20B thinks.” Kinder said.