I’ve always thought airplanes should be the perfect place to meet a new friend—I wrote about it back when I started this blog, after I found myself sharing a knowing smile with the girl next to me as we traded complaints about the airline service we’d received that day. When you’re tens of thousands of feet in the air with nothing to do but sit, the person next to you can quickly become a companion. If you let them.
Plus, there’s something poetic to the notion that the two of you are on the same journey, literally.
I’ve had the whole air travel-friending thing on the mind lately, since Friday was the busiest travel day of the year and over the weekend I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, a wonderful young adult book by Jennifer E. Smith (my book editor!) about two people who fall for each other on a flight from New York to London. Also, a reader recently sent me this article, which makes the case for chatting with the person in the window seat next to you.
Friending on airplanes is divisive. I used to be firmly in the “I’m deliberately opening my book now and looking very concentrated so you know not to talk to me” camp. These days, as you might imagine, I’m less so. Now I’m excited to chat with fellow passengers, and I often try to flash a grin that says “you can chat with me!” or glance at their book in a way that says “that looks interesting, let’s discuss!” Last night I had such a moment with the girl across the aisle from me. She was reading the year-end issue of People and writing down the movies she should see in between sips of her mini red wine. There was something about the fact that she wrote her to-dos in a planner, rather than typing them into a gadget, that made me like her. She caught me glimpsing at her magazine every now and then, but we never talked. I have a hard time working up the nerve, still. I hate annoying someone if she’s not in the mood.
Befriending someone on an airplane was a goal of mine during the official friending year. And I did work up the nerve to give one woman my card—I detail the resulting date in MWF Seeking BFF, the book. I’d definitely like to do more of that, though. It just makes for such a good story, and a couple of hours with nothing to do but talk can really accelerate the bonding.
I have a number of flights coming up this month, so I’m wondering: Have you ever made a friend on an airplane? What’s the best approach? I’m thinking commenting on what they are reading is a good first step. Ideas, anyone? (Or do you put your headphones on first thing, to send a don’t-bother-me message?)
MWF Seeking BFF is on sale now! If making new friends is your New Year’s resolution, let MWF be your companion guide. It’s a quick read, and a great pickup with the gift certificates you raked in for the holidays. Also, if you see the book out in the wild, send in a pic for the new “Where in the world is MWF Seeking BFF?” tumblr blog!