MeetAtTheAirport App: Bringing Speed Dating to the Airport

MeetAtTheAirport is the latest online dating venture to enter the travel atmosphere. Now, while waiting for a flight, there is an app that plays on the fantasies of many — unexpected love at first sight, the thrill of meeting a stranger.

Movies like Sleepless in Seattle and Jerry Maguire have primed us for dating apps that play on the hope for that chance meeting of true love among thousands of strangers. The new app prides itself on connecting you with people from around the world, setting it apart from numerous dating sites that rely on similar networks as the basis for connections. At 80,000 users and growing, MeetAtTheAirport has the potential for success, but seems more enticing for simple company rather than love.

Airports are one of the few places where thousands of people converge and yet it breaks the social norms to actually interact. Breaking into the travel arena seems like a natural next move for dating sites, especially as travel is all about exploration of new cultures and people. Sites like Planely and KLM are taking a similar approach, connecting you for with people on your flight or at the same arrival/destination points. Planely, for example, uses people’s LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to suggest useful social or business connections beyond romantic dates. I, personally, think Planely hits on a great medium of optimizing connections around you beyond dating in an airpot. My favorite part of their site is the “People bored at airports all over the world” Twitter feed.

While the site itself could use some visual work to stand on par with Planely and KLM, MeetAtTheAirport asks you to take a quick survey, gauging not only physical looks and relationship status, but what you are looking for from this particular meet and greet. Options include anything from just friendly company to a casual or serious relationship. As for exciting dates in an airport, the options also range from drinks to a full meal, and questions gauge whether or not you don’t drink, “have a drinking problem,” or “need a drink right now.” Overall, there seems to be an option for everyone. Even if you aren’t willing to ditch your travel uniform of Lululemons and a sweatshirt (guilty as charged), this app certainly has options for anyone looking for conversation and company.

Opening up connections between broader groups of people is a great way to move beyond the circles we repeatedly turn to, but these connections are arguably less likely to produce translatable and lasting relationships. Meeting someone in an airport carries a hint of fantasy and unknown identity, whereas a lasting relationship has to actually fit into your regular life, not a bubble. Perhaps that is not the main goal of this app for most people, though. If you’re looking for a hook up, apps like Planely and KLM seem to make more sense since you will be ending in the same destination with those people. While I’m skeptical of those using this for a bathroom romp (the only thing I want to touch while in an airport is Purell), I am sure that remains a large motivation as it does on many of these sites, especially those who enjoy the lowered risk of ever having to see the other person again.

Meeting more people is certainly never a bad thing, and it is shocking how frequently we are reminded of how small the world is, even at an international hub. Next time you’re traveling, don’t be surprised if you start seeing dates pop up along the terminal, especially if you’re in one of the five top airports that MeetAtTheAirport ranked as the best date ‘ports: Orlando International Airport, Miami Intl, Newark, Logan, and Philadelphia Intl Airport. Hopefully these sites will help keep travels entertaining, and yet another way for technology to help us meet those standing right in front of us.