Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Airport dating: Love at first flight?

By Eoghan Macguire, for CNN
November 27, 2012 -- Updated 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)
A couple kiss at Barajas airport in Madrid.
A couple kiss at Barajas airport in Madrid.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Website helps travelers connect with each other at airports
  • The site was founded in 2011 and has 20,000 members worldwide, its founder claims
  • One expert claims airport dating may struggle to take-off beside other dating concepts

(CNN) -- When a delayed flight left Steve Pasternack stranded at Miami Airport in early 2011, he settled into his departure lounge seat and cast a curious eye across his fellow passengers.

"I noticed a lot of people at the bar looking for something to do," he says, "and I thought it'd be great if I could get them to meet each other."

A web entrepreneur by trade, Pasternack resolved to create Meetattheairport.com -- a dating website that enables travelers to connect at the departure gate.

Since launching in May 2011 the platform has attracted roughly 20,000 members worldwide, he claims.

The concept works by prompting users to enter their personal interests, flight details and departure airport before matching them up with individuals with similar interests and travel arrangements.

So far people in the United States, Mexico and Germany have shown the most interest, although Pasternack says members have joined from all over the world.

What better time to meet somebody new than when you're sitting in an airport?
Steve Pasternack, Meetattheairport.com

"What better time to meet somebody new than when you're sitting in an airport?" he asks.

"This person could be a travel companion [or] they could be from the place you're going. It could turn into a friendship, a romance. It could work out for business, many things."

See also: No more flying solo with travel revolution

Although somewhat of a pioneer in this field, Pasternack is not alone in exploring the possibility of transforming airports into social meeting places.

Vantaa Airport in Helsinki, Finland, recently considered the possibility of introducing an airport speed-dating service.

According to Rachel Greenwald, dating strategist and author of the book "Have Him at Hello," these ideas are a natural progression of the popular niche-dating site concept.

Since first coming to prominence in the mid-90s, online dating has exploded in popularity, becoming increasingly specialized in the last five years or so, Greenwald says.

A report from web-business industry body Subscription Site Insider found that more than 25 million people registered for online dating sites globally in April 2011 alone.

"[There are now] dating sites for wine lovers, tall people ... there's also another which connects people on their book tastes," Greenwald says.

"[Many] young professionals in their 20s and 30s are constantly traveling as they build their careers," she says. "They simply don't have time to date when they're at home, so this [airport dating] could be very efficient."

See also: Are single men the best airline passengers?

But while curious as to how the concept develops, Greenwald cautions that ideas like airport dating will likely be inhibited by the same factors that limit online dating.

Airport dating still isn't solving the underlying problem of online dating which is that it can't predict chemistry
Rachel Greenwald

This includes their impersonal nature and the idea that pairing individuals with similar interests is all it takes to make a good match, rather than personal chemistry between two people, she says.

There is also the degree of blind trust required to accept that the person on the other end of an email chain really is who they say they are.

While recognizing this risk, Pasternack argues there are few safer places to personalize a blossoming online relationship than in the tightly policed environs of an airport.

See also: Luxury hotels offer day only rooms

Greenwald agrees, although she points out that Meetattheairport may still struggle to compete with other modern dating platforms -- such as group dinner dates or theater trips -- which provide earlier face-to-face meetings.

"Airport dating still isn't solving the underlying problem of online dating, which is that it can't predict chemistry," she says.

Until sites can master this concept, airport daters will be choosing who they meet on "two-dimensional impressions based on a photo and some words ... rather than three-dimensional personal chemistry."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
Imagine you're a hotel company with a score of brands that seem, well, dated. All the flash amenities of yesteryear seem irrelevant today.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 0414 GMT (1214 HKT)
The European firm has unveiled how passengers flying on its new A350 XWB might travel.
March 26, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
Would you pay to cut in line for the toilets on a flight?
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 0218 GMT (1018 HKT)
Concorde is a thing of the past, but a number of companies are racing to release the first supersonic business jet.
March 3, 2014 -- Updated 0222 GMT (1022 HKT)
Though we're still in the early stages of 2014, it is already proving one of the most expensive years for the travel industry.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
At $83,200 a night, the Royal Penthouse Suite at Geneva's Hotel President Wilson is the most expensive hotel room in the world.
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 0348 GMT (1148 HKT)
From 'ascending rooms' and mini-bars to pillow menus and iPad-controls, discover the evolution of hotel room amenities.
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 1612 GMT (0012 HKT)
There's a new group of travelers in town -- and it hardly matters which town you're talking about.
February 13, 2014 -- Updated 0457 GMT (1257 HKT)
It's Boeing vs. Airbus as the heavy-weight plane makers face off at the Singapore airshow.
February 10, 2014 -- Updated 0203 GMT (1003 HKT)
How airlines are making in-flight maps more interactive and monetizing them.
February 4, 2014 -- Updated 0103 GMT (0903 HKT)
What do new planes have to endure during cold weather testing?
ADVERTISEMENT