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U.S. Airports: Mistletoe, Anyone?

John Deiner

So Washington Dulles does have something going for it: According to a recent study, it's among the Top 5 airports when it comes to making a love connection. So missing flights and sitting around hours waiting for your delayed plane to leave actually does have a payoff.

According to a release, "AXE, a leader in men's grooming and known commentator on the chemistry between 18-24 year-old guys and girls, worked with Sperling's BestPlaces to commission a study targeting the country's largest metropolitan airports and unveiled some surprising results."

Maybe the most surprising thing is that someone actually conducted a study on this subject.

As it turns out, airports that have the longest delays seemed to be among the best spots for singles to mingle. The "winner" was Philly International, which, according to the study, received the honor because it has "some of the nation's longest and most frequent flight delays (32 percent of all flights, averaging 60 minutes)." It continues: "Getting stuck in 'The Airport of Brotherly Love' gives you a chance to hang your hat in one of 16 bars and seven lounges or grab a cheese steak at one of 57 restaurants." It doesn't really mention that the airport is, overall, a pretty lousy place to get stuck in at all, but it really doesn't have to. (In case you're wondering, and I know you are, BWI and Reagan National fall in the middle of the pack.)

According to the release, StrategyOne (the research firm that surveyed more than 860 respondents) says travelers are "using airports to connect with more than just flights. Nearly one in 10 adults has personally gone out or knows someone who has gone out with someone they met at the airport or during a flight. The survey also showed people are taking advantage of their flight time: one-third of adults would rather sit next to someone they find attractive or interesting than have an entire row to themselves."

Hmmm. 10 percent have gone out with someone they met at an airport? And one-third would give up a row to themselves? What?!? I'll die a row-to-myself kinda guy. But I do consider myself fortunate whenever I find someone interesting to chat up during a delay or end up sitting next to someone I can actually relate to.

Anyone out there among the fortunate 10 percent? And would you rather have a row to yourself or sit next to someone attractive or interesting?

Here's a list of the airports surveyed and their rank:

1. Philadelphia Int'l (PHL)
2. Newark (EWR)
3. John F Kennedy (JFK)
4. Washington-Dulles Int'l (IAD)
5. La Guardia Int'l (LGA)
6. Port Columbus Int'l (CMH)
7. Detroit Metropolitan (DTW)
8. Logan Int'l (BOS)
9. Dallas/Ft. Worth Int'l (DFW)
10. San Francisco Int'l (SFO)
11. Lambert-St. Louis Int'l (STL)
12. Cincinnati Int'l (CVG)
13. O'Hare Int'l (ORD)
14. Minneapolis/St. Paul Int'l (MSP)
15. Miami Int'l (MIA)
16. Seattle Tacoma Int'l (SEA)
17. Pittsburgh Int'l (PIT)
18. Hartsfield Int'l (ATL)
19. Washington National (DCA)
20. Baltimore/Washington Int'l (BWI)
21. Denver Int'l (DEN)
22. San Antonio Int'l (SAT)
23. Hopkins Int'l (CLE)
24. Houston Int'l (IAH)
25. San Diego Int'l (SAN)
26. Portland Int'l (PDX)
27. Kansas City Int'l (MCI)
28. Houston Hobby (HOU)
29. Sacramento Int'l (SMF)
30. Tampa Int'l (TPA)
31. Midway Int'l (MDW)
32. Sky Harbor Int'l (PHX)
33. Los Angeles Int'l (LAX)
34. Orlando Int'l (MCO)
35. McCarran Int'l (LAS)
36. San Jose Int'l (SJC)
37. Oakland Int'l (OAK)

By John Deiner |  December 17, 2007; 10:20 AM ET  | Category:  John Deiner
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I agree the study is dumb, but it doesn't say 10% have gone out with someone they met at the airport or on a flight, it says 10% have gone out with *or* know someone who has gone out with someone they met at the airport or on a flight. And I know someone who married a guy she sat next to on a plane, so there you go. Ok, it's the little sister of an acquaintance of mine. But that counts as knowing for my purposes, and probably for the purposes of this dumb study, too.

Posted by: hh | December 17, 2007 11:04 AM

Good point, HH. You're right about that 10 percent. And you count me among those who don't know anyone who's gone out with someone they met at an airport.

Posted by: John Deiner | December 17, 2007 11:13 AM

LaGuardia is not an international airport.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 17, 2007 11:35 AM

Yes it is. There are flights to Canada.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 17, 2007 12:11 PM

What's with all the Ohio/Northern Kentuckey airports? Do traverlers out there really hook up that much? One would have thought that the California airports would have show up higher. Maybe all the Californians are hooking up out here in their way home.

Posted by: EricS | December 17, 2007 12:24 PM

John Deiner, if you'd now like to claim my acquaintance's little sister as the person you know, too, that's fine with me.

Posted by: hh | December 17, 2007 2:44 PM

I think Axe more likely has the 12 to 15 year old boy demographic.

Posted by: LM | December 17, 2007 4:10 PM

Actually, I have had much more interaction with fellow travelers on trains than I have had on planes. Usually, most of the people that are around me when I fly have their faces either buried in a book, or else are yakking on their cell phones. Of course if you are sitting in a bar waiting for a delayed flight, the liquor would losen one up.

Posted by: rja112 | December 18, 2007 2:59 AM

I'm one of the lucky 10%! I met my boyfriend a year and a half ago at Dulles. And I thought our story was original... guess not as much as we thought. It's a cool way to meet!

Posted by: DK | December 19, 2007 2:44 PM

Not unheard of! My friend's daughter recently married a guy she met on a flight, and that is not the first such match I've heard of!

Posted by: Kensington | December 19, 2007 5:36 PM

I agree that the "or knows someone who has gone out with someone they met in an airport" is pretty sketchy, and a little misleading. That said, I can safely report that I met the love of my life - my wife - at Dulles Airport ten years ago. She was the person standing in front of me at check-in for my flight; I was gutless and didn't start a conversation then; two weeks later on the return flight she was the person in front of me in the customs line... and the rest is history. I give Fate a bit more credit than IAD - but I'll never complain about those long lines at Dulles again.

Posted by: ABD | January 10, 2008 7:34 AM

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