Whether out of relief, admiration for piloting skill, or sheer exuberance, travelers applaud when the plane lands in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The scene, part of a new JetBlue commercial, might seem over the top, especially to jaded travelers. The ad, though, celebrates a custom in Puerto Rico in which clapping upon a plane’s landing is the norm, not the exception.
Of course, clapping upon landing isn’t unheard of elsewhere. Party destinations like Las Vegas and New Orleans tend to inspire applause more than places like New York or London that attract business travelers. But outside of Puerto Rico where it’s the norm, applause can be unpredictable. “I’m not sure why they clap,” Heather Poole, a 20-year veteran of the airline industry and author of Cruising Altitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet, told Travel and Leisure, referring to passengers in general. ”But if they don’t clap, and you clap, everyone will start clapping along with you.”
The new ad coincides with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, and lands at a moment in which the US president has rejected new findings that point to a large gap between the official number of deaths and the actual number of people who died as a result of the storm.
In choosing to highlight a joyful Boricua tradition, JetBlue underscores that the island is not just a tropical getaway for tourists, it’s a beloved home. And while the party plane in the ad is much rowdier than usual, it sure beats your typically dour coach cabin.