LONDON — There can be few more irritating people than your fellow airplane passengers — but apparently there’s still a chance you’ll fall in love with them.
A new study from British bank HSBC suggests that 1 in 50 airplane passengers meet the love of their life on board an aircraft. The other 49, presumably, just annoy the heck out of each other as they travel.
The results came from interviews with 2,150 people from 141 countries in which participants were asked about the likelihood of meeting “the one” while cooped up in a metal tube 30,000 feet in the sky. Some 6,000 people from Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and the United Kingdom were additionally also quizzed on their flying habits.
Opportunities for romance
In the advent of the Jet Age, when air travel went global, airline posters played up the glamor — and romantic frisson — of aviation.
The idea of air travel as a romantic affair was propagated in the alluring travel posters of the 1960s, like one raunchy BOAC ad that shows a couple sharing a cherry on board.
Today, as more and more of us regularly travel by airplane, often opting for budget carriers where we feel overdressed in sweatpants and lunch-stained T-shirts, air travel has become increasingly less glamorous.
Fancy cabins offering the privacy and luxury of a hotel room are available, harking back to a bygone era, but most of us don’t get on airplane looking for love.
The romance of air travel
However HSBC’s study reveals that over half of airplane passengers have struck up a conversation with a stranger on a plane.
It’s not just romantic relationships that are born in the skies. The findings suggest that one in seven fliers makes a lasting friendship while flying while 16% add a new business connection to their network.
Now that many airlines are testing out inflight Wi-Fi, the opportunities for making connections aren’t limited to shooting the breeze with your immediate neighbors.
Airplane app Inflighto has a chat function allowing communication between pilot and passenger, but it also promotes conversations between travelers on board.
“The whole ethos of the app, the whole philosophy behind it is to help passengers re-engage with flying,” co-creator Christopher Smyth told CNN Travel earlier in the year.
Not always plane sailing
Naturally airborne romance isn’t always plane sailing. About 48% of surveyed passengers were freaked out if fellow passengers removed their shoes, 65% would be put off if another traveler was rude to a flight attendant and, of course, drinking too much is another no-no, with 46% listing it as a complaint.
If you want to impress your seat buddy, respecting their personal space is — of course — integral.
Some 37% of people hate it when passengers take up too much space in the overhead locker, 32% get mad if someone uses the arm rest. Falling asleep on someone’s shoulder (30%) and snoring (26%) are also buzz kills.
So, as long as you’re considerate and respectful, perhaps your soul mate is out there waiting on a plane for you.
It’s just a matter of figuring out which of the 107,000 daily scheduled flights they’re actually on.