True Story: I 'Airline Dated' and Lived to Tell the TaleS

Have you heard of "airline dating," the hot new online dating trend? Probably not, because it is not actually a hot new online dating trend. But websites for lonely travelers who'd rather find love during a layover than seek out delicious snacks do exist; Steve Pasternack started meetattheairport.com after he, himself, was delayed at the airport in early 2011, and "noticed a lot of people at the bar looking for something to do." He says the site — which asks users normal online dating qs about their personal interests but also about their flight details and departure airport to find them a perfect match — has attracted roughly 20,000 members from all over the world.

"What better time to meet somebody new than when you're sitting in an airport?" he asked CNN. His website declares that "Airports are the new meeting place for adults to meet" and that while "usual dating sites connect you with people in your area, so you always see the same men and women on the website," meetatheairport.com is a way to meet people around the world, if you so desire. (Does anyone really want to "date internationally" though, besides celebrities and mail-order brides? Sounds expensive.)

Pasternack also said that "there are few safer places to personalize a blossoming online relationship than in the tightly policed environs of an airport" — Does OkCupid check prospective matches' shoes for bombs? I don't think so! — and that airport dating is the most efficient way for young professionals who travel often, a la Up In The Air, to connect.

Under other circumstances, I'd make merciless fun of Pasternack and his assumptions about "airport dating," which is clearly not reeeeally a new trend but an attempt to stand out amidst the zillions of other dating sites out there. But that would be disingenuous of me, because, true story, I once met — and, subsequently, very briefly dated — someone whom I met at an airport.

A few months after I graduated from college, I was sitting at my gate at SFO, waiting to fly home to LA for Thanksgiving, when an extremely attractive dude who looked to be around my age sat down next to me with a copy of a Kurt Vonnegut book I'd never read. (In retrospect, this should've been a warning sign, as no one has any business reading Vonnegut after high school. Sorry, it's true.) His ticket rested on his thigh, which meant I could easily see his full name. I considered saying hi to him, but before I could work up the courage, he got up and walked away.

So I did what any normal person would do. I Googled him. It turned out he lived in SF but was from LA — like me! — and we had two Facebook friends in common. Fate! I was unemployed, recently single, vaguely depressed and definitely bored, so I decided to send him a Facebook message, because why not. (YOLO wasn't a thing then, but the concept was definitely applicable.) I said something like, "Hi this is really weird but you were sitting next to me at the airport, Galapagos was always my favorite Vonnegut even though no one else likes that one, let's hang out?" Let me stress how completely out of character this was for me; I'm horrible at making the first move and I've never even used an online dating service. It was, without a doubt, the most Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing I've ever done; I literally stalked a stranger and hoped he would think it was quirky instead of creepy.

Guess what? HE DID. He wrote me back and we went on a date, at a bar he liked because "Kerouac used to hang out there." (Second warning sign. But he was so cute!) We had a pretty good time and I had every intention of seeing him again, but then I moved apartments and got a new job so was super busy and he offered to feng shui my new place which was a dealbreaker for me because I'm a bitch, and also I think I got back together with my ex around this time.

ANYWAY. My point is that I once "airline dated," and even though it didn't work out, it's a really good story, and also getting out of your comfort zone and being an unabashed weirdo — which, again, is not something I'm used to doing — can be really fun, regardless of the outcome. "Wouldn't it be great to say, 'we met at the airport or we met on a plane'?" meetattheairport.com asks. It would be! It could happen.

[CNN]