In-flight romance: How to meet at 30,000 feet

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Flying solo? Why not spend your time making friends and flirting while flying the friendly skies? Airlines are catching on to Cupid’s way by offering passengers chances to meet a match in flight.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Meet & Seat allows travelers to get a sneak peek at passengers on their planes. To participate, passengers share their Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ profiles and are in turn shown other passengers’ social media profiles. Passengers can choose a seat next to someone they find interesting. The service is available on all flights to and from Amsterdam and reserved for solo bookings only.

For passengers who might not be as forward, Virgin Airlines helps passengers with the flirting process by allowing passengers to order and pay for a drink, snack or meal to be delivered to other passengers’ seats. Recipients who are pleased with the gesture can respond via seat-to-seat text messaging or reciprocate with a drink, snack or meal.

If you are flying on an airline that doesn’t offer amenities to help you meet and mingle, there are many air travel-related dating apps, like Planely, a free app that lets travelers post their flight information and see the Facebook or LinkedIn profiles of fellow passengers. Or, if you prefer to improve your in-flight dating game the old fashioned way, use some of these expert tips.

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Dress to impress

Dress well and consider wearing something that stands out. We all like being comfortable in flight, but you can set yourself apart without sacrificing comfort.

“I personally like to wear something really bright colored,” said Radio Wright, online dating expert at eDatingDoc.com, who has a bright yellow T-shirt that he likes to wear on flights.

Opportunity is everything

Don’t wait until the cabin door is closed to begin scoping out potential pals. There are many opportunities during all legs of the journey, including waiting in the airline lounge or gate area, while boarding the plane, as well as during the flight.

“All of these put people in close proximity and offer them opportunities to cross paths a few times while confined in a small space for a period of time that can easily exceed two to three hours. What they do with those opportunities is key to making a connection,” said Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, psychotherapist and relationship coach in McLean, Virginia.

Be selective about seating

first class airplane cabin
First class seating is romantical. (Image: Gary Bembridge, british airways BA first class new seats via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Sit in an aisle seat, advises Wright, who points out the aisle seat affords the opportunity to talk to passengers both in front and beside you.

Monica Eaton-Cardone didn’t expect to meet her future husband during a distressing flight delay. Despite her efforts to shrug off Gary Cardone’s attempts to catch her attention at the gate, she reluctantly let him change her seat (to first class, no less!). Today the couple is married with two girls and co-owners of management firm Chargebacks911.

Play musical chairs

flight attendant
Ask for help. (Image: Karl Baron, Thai airways via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Didn’t win the seat lottery? Beth Blair, a former flight attendant who runs the website The Vacation Gals, has witnessed many passengers request seat changes to sit next to someone of interest. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

If you aren’t lucky enough to get a seat next to the person you’re smitten with, here are some additional tips to get the person’s attention.

  • Pass notes
    Go old-school with a cocktail napkin, a pen and your imagination.“One of the cutest ways people would ‘meet’ on planes was passing notes, just like in school,” said Blair. “Sometimes they would ask me to deliver, other times they would pass it among the passengers.
  • Buy beverages
    “The ‘Buy 14B a drink on me’ is cliché but that happens a lot, too,” said Blair.
  • Get help
    You can ask the flight attendant for help passing notes or drinks to the person you’re interested in, but you can also get tech support by downloading apps like Cheekd, a free app that uses Bluetooth, meaning it doesn’t require an Internet connection to function. After setting up a profile with information like where you are from and your favorite song, Cheekd sends immediate notifications when a potential match is within 30 feet of a user. “You can start a conversation on the app,” said Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO of Cheekd. “So maybe when you’re getting off the plane or at baggage check, it will already be that much easier to physically communicate because you’ve already broken the ice on the app.”

Smile and say hello

“If your seatmate doesn’t acknowledge you, they’re someone you wouldn’t want to talk to, anyway. If they say hello and then put on their headphones or stick their nose in a book, then hey, at least you tried,” said Dan Nainan, a comedian who has met a variety of interesting folks on planes, from dates to networking connections. “It’s most likely that your seatmate will be up for a few pleasantries and a short chat, making your flight go more smoothly, but the two of you may really hit it off.”

Make small talk

Once you have the person’s attention, proceed with caution.

“While an approach at a social club may favor the brazen, on an airplane you’re stuck with a person for the duration of the flight, so caution and small talk are key,” Mars Incrucio, a founding member of card game, Matchr. He prefers to open up a conversation with observational humor.

Observe nonverbal communication

man and woman flirting on airplane
Not reclining all the way is a good move. BraunS

“The first thing everyone should focus on is their nonverbal communication with those around them. If they see someone of interest, glancing their way briefly a few times, but not staring, offering direct but quick eye contact and a subtle smile are a good start,” said Coleman, who personally knows three couples who met on flights. “Then they need to note the person’s response. Do they look back at them, glance their way a few times, or smile in response?”

If the response is positive, then folks can move their seat or stand closer to the person in the lounge, ask a question or make a relevant comment while standing in line for food or to board, advises Coleman.

“If the other person is interested, they will be open and responsive to conversation,” said Coleman.

If you’re on the plane and have connected nonverbally with another passenger, you can go to the bathroom at the same time and make use of any wait time to ask a question or offer a comment, advises Coleman.

“Anything relevant to the situation is best. If they are sitting behind you, ask them if it is okay if you recline your seat or, when putting luggage away, ask a question about the space involved and if they think you have enough room to put your bag there,” said Coleman, who notes this situation opens up the opportunity for an offer of assistance with placing luggage in the overhead bin.

“Note the person‘s response and if they appear open and receptive or offer one-word responses, avoid eye contact, or don’t ask questions in response,” said Coleman.

Avoid awkwardness

In your pursuit of pursuing a passenger, don’t be that person. Don’t drink too much or even at all if that could pose a problem.

“Don’t talk too much to a seatmate. They may feel trapped and annoyed by it,” said Coleman. “Follow the lead of the other person and pay attention to their nonverbal cues.”

Exchange contact details

how to talk to a fellow passenger
kris krüg, Geeks On A Plane – San Paulo Brazil via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

If your conversation piques more interest, platonic or otherwise, suggest exchanging business cards or contact details. Depending on how well you hit it off, you might suggest making plans to meet again. “Inspire a little bit of hope by suggesting an activity you can both do at your destination. If the town has an airport, it probably has, at least, one tourist attraction,” said Incrucio.

Continue the connection during connections

If the person is connecting to another flight, don’t miss the opportunity to connect some more.

“When we land, if my seat mate and I are both connecting to another flight, I’ll often ask if they’d like to be my guest in the airport lounge,” said Nainan, who flies 200,000 miles annually.

Follow up

Put that contact info to good use and follow up with an email greeting within two days of meeting.

“I find that if you wait too long to get in touch, the person with whom you had a seemingly special conversation at 30,000 feet might just forget who you are,” said Nainan.

“I do think, like anything exciting in life, meeting strangers on a plane takes effort but if you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know,” said Cheek.

Have you ever met someone special on a plane? Share your stories and tips in the comments.

Main image: iStockPhoto/BraunS

In-flight romance: How to meet at 30,000 feet was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Lauren Mack
Author: Lauren Mack (163 posts)

Lauren Mack has traveled to 40 countries on five continents, including Cuba, New Zealand, Peru and Tanzania. For many years, she called China, and then Taiwan, home. Countries at the beginning of the alphabet, particularly Antarctica, Argentina and Australia are on her travel bucket list. Lauren is a multimedia travel and food journalist and explorer based in New York City.