Is it possible to pick someone up on a plane?

I should preface this with an admission: I’ve never picked up on a plane. Never even gone close. I’m not even the sort of guy who picks up in bars, let alone on long-haul flights.

I once sat next to a Dutch girl on a flight to Fiji. We got chatting and realised we were staying in the same hotel in Nadi, so decided to share a lift from the airport. We then had sort of an awkward goodbye at the check-in desk, and never saw each other again. Come to think of it, if I’d be able to see things a little clearer through the fog of jet-lag (I was coming in from LA, rather than Sydney), that might have been my one opportunity. But that’s it.

The way I see it there are a few major obstacles to picking up a girl or guy while you’re on a plane. The first is that there’s such a minute chance of winding up sitting next to anyone you’d even be remotely interested in. In my experience you’re far more likely to end up next to the chatty American pensioner than you are the 20-something hottie.

There’s also the fact that, when flying, you’re not exactly looking your best. Short flights are fine, but on anything going outside of Australia you’re usually wearing a pair of sleep-friendly trackie dacks or unflattering but hopefully DVT-busting tights, you’ve got teeth-jumpers because you haven’t brushed in about 24 hours, and you smell like a football change-room. Sexy.

The other major obstacle, for me at least, is that I really don’t like talking to strangers on planes. I’m not there to make friends – I’m there to watch movies, guzzle some free wine and then try to knock myself out with sleeping pills. I’m not there to listen to stories about your dogs. 

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen though. I’m sure there are plenty of tales of people who’ve met their current partner – or even just a very short-term former partner – in between take-off and landing. There are probably plenty of people smooth enough and enthusiastic enough to make a connection happen before the seatbelt light goes off (And my editor confirms a friend of his met a guy on a flight and they later married).

Now, for anyone who fancies that idea but doesn’t have the luck of sitting next to someone they’re interested in, there’s Wingman.

What’s Wingman? It’s a dating app for people in the air, the “Tinder of the skies”, if you will, designed to hook you up with “attractive people on your flight”. 

Do you find the idea of searching for romantic matches or mid-flight hook-ups on your red-eye to Perth a little creepy? Well, this is not the app for you.


Wingman is the dating device for airborne desperados – or at least it will be if Apple approves it (and it passes the beta stage). The idea is that you log in, create a profile, and then enter the details of the flight you’re about to board. Then, with the use of Bluetooth (or onboard wifi, if it’s available), the app will find others on your aircraft who are also logged on, and attempt to introduce you.

It’s kind of like Tinder from there – you “swipe” left or right, depending on whether you’re interested in the person’s profile, and if you have a match you’re free to communicate. 

What you do next I’m not really sure, given you probably won’t be sitting next to any of these flying philanderers. Hang out for a chat near the loos? Exchange flirty messages in between episodes of Big Bang Theory? Take your meal trays down the back for an intimate dinner? (“You gonna eat those crackers? Thanks.”) Whatever you choose, you’ve got up to 14 hours stuck in a metal tube together to creep it up.

Sounds kind of weird, right? Long-haul flights, for me, don’t lend themselves to romance. They lend themselves to people being at their absolute worst: unkempt, tired, and probably grumpy after endless airport queues and a flight.

Plus if you do end up having a mid-air rendezvous with this person and realise that you aren’t going to get along, there’s no emergency phone call from a friend to save you from the situation. You’re stuck with them till landing. Awkward. 

For some people, however, this kind of mid-air romance might sound like a great idea, the perfect way to spice up an interminably long flight with a little potential passion. 

And to those people, I say: good luck. I’ll stick with movies, wine and sleeping pill.

Have you ever picked up someone on a plane? Did it work out? Do you think Wingman sounds like a great idea, or is it just kind of creepy?