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
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0339 GMT (1139 HKT)
Few airline routes are as cutthroat as the one between London and New York.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1515 GMT (2315 HKT)
If it ain't broke, don't fix it, the old adage goes; Airbus unveils revamped A330 airliner.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0248 GMT (1048 HKT)
Show us how you travel with twitpics and instagram via #howipack
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 0923 GMT (1723 HKT)
Could airlines drop fossil fuel in favor of cooking oil?
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
How do you kill time during flight delays?
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 0800 GMT (1600 HKT)
Fancy stripping off before a flight and getting sweaty with fellow passengers? Head to Helsinki.
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 0255 GMT (1055 HKT)
The skies are under threat. Not from terrorists or hardened criminals, but from everyday passengers who seem to go a little loco.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 0334 GMT (1134 HKT)
A German entrepreneur claims to have found a way to buy 1 million air miles for as little as $6,500.
June 12, 2014 -- Updated 0213 GMT (1013 HKT)
These days, no fashion house portfolio is complete without a hotel -- or at the very least, a luxuriously designed suite.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
Is sky the limit for green aviation? Take our quiz and find out.
May 26, 2014 -- Updated 0319 GMT (1119 HKT)
Some collect spoons from their travel, others collect a whole lot more.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
There is no shortage of adjectives one can apply to airline seats; no wonder that many carriers are looking to make a change.
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 0558 GMT (1358 HKT)
Etihad Airways has unveiled new cabins that are more like suites complete with butler and chef.
ADVERTISEMENT