The holidays are the busiest travel time of the year and the airport delays can be enormous. But so are the opportunities to meet your match. Instead of fuming about the long lines and uncomfortable chairs, why not use the down time to find a date?
“Why not, indeed?” says Peter Shankman, a PR executive in New York who flies about 300,000 air miles a year. “People fly; flying and travel sucks as a whole nowadays, so why not meet someone if you can? It beats staring at the ‘This flight is delayed’ board.” And the downside’s low. “If you don’t click, you land and never see that person again.”
Here, then, are five ways to use time waiting in line and sitting around to improve your chances in love.
1. Prepare for landing. If you’re going to make the first move, make sure it’s a good one. “Shift your focus from yourself to the other person,” suggests Mike Bechtle, author of Confident Conversation: How to Communicate Successfully in Any Situation. “Start by commenting on something you’ve noticed — not looks, but what he or she is doing or reading.” Ask if the person’s book is engaging, where that appetizing food came from in the terminal, etc. “Then listen carefully to how the person responds and follow up with related questions. If he or she shows genuine interest, you’ll have plenty of topics to explore.”
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2. Prepare for departure. You’re already in danger of missing the family dinner — don’t miss an opportunity to connect on top of it. Your flight could get called at any minute, so you’ve got to be ready to give and get phone digits at all times. Several years ago, Lauren Kennedy of Brookfield, WI, met a cute guy on a flight and hoped it would go somewhere. “At the baggage claim, we said goodbye, nice meeting you, etc., and went our separate ways, only knowing one another’s first names.” She was kind of bummed. But weeks later, they saw each other at a nightclub. “This time I got his business card, which he says he started carrying after meeting me and having no way to smoothly pass along his info. So, my now-husband would definitely say (yes, I married the guy!), ‘Always carry business cards.’”
3. Take that indirect flight offer. Nobody catching your eye in the departure lounge? No problem. Just follow Torie Bigelow’s lead: “My flight was overbooked, so I took the free ticket and waited for the next flight,” recalls the Washington, D.C.-based banker. “I noticed a woman knitting, and as a knitter, I started chatting with her. She told me that she’d like to give my number to a young doctor she knew, so I gave it to her. I figured nothing would happen.” Thanksgiving and the holidays came and went, and in February the following year, she got a call from the medicine man. “We were married a year later!”
4. Check for online bookings. Don’t feel like chatting anyone up? Sit back, relax and surf the Internet for a date in your home base or the city you’re visiting. “Whenever I’m waiting around, I log onto my online dating site and look around,” says Maresa Lessini, a Detroit-based consultant who flies about every 10 days for work. “If I see someone I like, I shoot off a quick email. It not only gives me something productive to do, but it has other rewards!”
5. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Even if you don’t try any of these proactive tips, you can still find love in the departure lounge, says Kristen Spargo of St. Paul, MN, who met her husband after a six-hour holiday flight delay. “Embrace the situation,” she counsels. “People who weather bad circumstances with a positive attitude tend to attract others with a similar outlook.” Chat about your frustration, but acknowledge that, given all the problems possible in the world today, it’s not so bad.
While it’s never fun dealing with the hassles of holiday travel, finding a date during the delays, detours and down time is better than going through it alone.
North Carolina-based freelancer Margot Carmichael Lester once logged 248,000 air miles in an 18-month period — without leaving the lower 48.