A step-by-step guide to picking up that most elusive of holiday pleasures: the woman in Seat 18F
By Neel Shah
I can count the beautiful women with whom I've shared an armrest at 35,000 feet on one hand. On a solitary digit, come to think of it. She was a prototypically gorgeous L.A. blond, being prototypically gorgeous even on a red-eye in the middle seat... right next to her prototypically douchey L.A. rocker boyfriend, hunkering down by the window in a trucker hat and jeans skinnier than hers. At least I assume it was her boyfriend, given that when I briefly woke up at 3 A.M. to adjust my pillow, his tray table was less in the upright and locked position than what was under it along with her hand and a TSA-approved bottle of lotion. I went back to sleep pretty quickly after that.
Nevertheless, it's been my experience that attractive females do indeed travel by aircraft, and that occasionally, unlike the aforementioned, highly dexterous L.A. blond, they often travel alone. What to do if by chance — or design (more on that shortly) — you're seated next to one? I asked some frequent fliers for advice on conquering the mile-high coquette.
Pre-Boarding: Turn Off the Assigned Seat Sign
The odds of sharing an overhead bin with a potential mating partner, of course, are significantly lower than being situated next to a potentially infuriating pre-teen, or a man whom the FAA could potentially mandate to purchase two seats; there just happen to be more whiny brats and fat guys than mating partners in the gene pool. So it's best to get proactive.
Certain airlines make your job easier: Southwest, for example, has an open seating policy, allowing you to plop down next to whoever catches your eye. But even on another carrier's relatively empty flight, don't succumb to the creepy-guy-sitting-next-to-the-one-hot-chick temptation often reserved for drunken subway rides and Kevin Dillon's personal and professional lives. Instead, strike up a conversation with her at the gate, and she'll be happy to see you when you switch seats with the lady across her aisle on the sly.
A friend of mine, who holds the distinction of being the only one to have successfully convinced a woman he met on a plane to come back to his apartment straight from the airport, recommends enlisting the help of (pun alert!) an overlooked wing man: the ticket agent. "I was headed to London, and there was an absolutely stunning girl standing in the check-in line," he says. "Finally I get to the counter, and the agent goes, 'Window or aisle?' Half kidding, I just smile and motion to the girl and tell him I'll sit in the overhead bin so long as it's near her. He glances down at his computer screen, punches a few keys, and prints my pass: Seat 18E. When I ended up getting on the plane an hour later, guess who's in 18F?" Turns out she was married, but still.
Takeoff: Turn On All Approved Conversation Devices
If you do manage to snag a choice seat, you've got two things going for you: easy access to alcohol and a five-mile vertical buffer between her and the nearest exit. Make use of them both.
Don't wait until she's popped a Xanax and started into her nap before introducing yourself. "You want to start talking to her immediately," says Nick Savoy, who runs Love Systems, a popular boot camp on how to meet women. "Don't gab her ear off, but definitely initiate. Otherwise it'll seem like you've been sitting there for twenty minutes thinking of something to say, by which point she'll already have her headphones on."
If things are progressing well, be a man and get her a drink. The days of free miniature bottles of booze are long gone, but on increasingly more flights, you can order cocktails (and pay for them, via credit card) directly from the console on the seatback in front of you. If you're not working on her, too, ask the flight attendant if you can keep the can of ginger ale you just used as a mixer for convenient refills. Alternately, do what my friend Justin does and always travel with a bottle of wine. "I've yet to have someone turn down a free drink," he says. Justin points out that corkscrews can be tough to smuggle onboard, so go with a twist-off. (Yes, they make decent ones, including everything from Down Under.)
Landing: Adjust Your Own Libido Before Approaching Others
Most people not named Ralph Fiennes will probably have difficulty convincing a complete stranger to have sex with them in an airplane lavatory, so the goal should be to get her number.
But in the case that a mile-high notch on your bucket list appears at all attainable, Benedict says not to hesitate. "If you get to the point where you're sharing a blanket and the arm rest is up, take the lead," he recommends. "You'll kill the mood completely if she feels like everyone's watching. Before you make a run for it, obviously make sure no one is in the bathroom, and that there's no food cart blocking the aisle. You don't want to draw attention to yourself."
Like, any attention whatsoever. Another friend warns that the FAA has cracked down on bathroom security since 9/11, having been informed by a flight attendant who threatened to kick him off the plane (to where?) while interrupting his most recent attempt at countertop coitus. "This after my girlfriend walked out to a round of applause from the rest of the plane," he says.
Speaking of graceful exits, awkwardness may ensue if your amorous advance gets shot down mid-flight. But get over it: She's a beautiful woman, and she's been hit on before. You're not the first guy she's not interested in. Just the first one who really knew what he was doing on the aisle seat.