With millions of airline passengers crisscrossing the globe each day, it’s not surprising that connections are being made at cruising altitude. What is perhaps surprising is the number of those connections that turn into something more. When asked in a recent HSBC survey about the kinds of experiences they have while flying, 6 percent of international travelers from the U.S. responded that “I met someone I was attracted to and we dated for awhile,” and 4 percent reported “I met the love of my life” in-flight.
The survey results come not long after last summer’s #PlaneBae Twitter saga thrust a love connection between two strangers on a plane into the viral limelight. In early July, lifestyle and travel blogger Rosey Blair took to Twitter to give a live update on an evolving flirtation that was taking place between two strangers sitting in front of her on her flight.
Her voyeuristic reportage garnered hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets, illuminating the popularity of a good travel romance story. Unfortunately, this particular story turned sour when the woman Blair had tweeted about accused Blair of violating her privacy (those tweets have since been deleted). Social media ethics aside, however, the story spurred others to share their in-flight romance tales and highlighted the fact that matchmaking can and does happen up in the air.
In fact, according to the HSBC-commissioned study, travelers make all sorts of connections while flying. Twelve percent of flight passengers have made a lasting friendship on a flight, and 13 percent have made a strong business connection. Almost half (47 percent) report that they have started a conversation with the stranger sitting next to them.
The survey, which was conducted in September 2018 and issued to media outlets in the form of a press release, compiled responses from 1,000 U.S. residents who fly internationally (there was also a corresponding larger study that analyzed responses from 2,150 global international travelers). The U.S. respondents let it be known that children behaving badly on planes is among their main pet peeves. Sixty-five percent said letting children kick their seat is the biggest air travel taboo, followed by letting children run up and down the aisles (59 percent). Rudeness to flight attendants was cited by 56 percent of U.S. respondents; 45 percent reported being perturbed by people who remove their shoes and release a stench; and hogging the armrest and people who drink too much both bothered 44 percent of U.S. respondents.
Apparently, U.S. travelers can be a bit curmudgeonly about landings, too. Fifteen percent of Americans surveyed said that they prefer it when passengers abstain from cheering when the plane lands.
At least there’s the 10 percent chance of a love connection to look forward to.