Ten steps to turn the passenger next to you into a fling (or more)

Want to get lucky on your next flight? The odds of initiating a perfect stranger into the mile-high club are pretty slim, even if you do know all the right things to say. Of course, you could have a conversation, make a connection and want to make it real on the ground. So, how can that happen? Plugging in and tuning out aren’t going to help you much. Instead, you have to roll the dice and be social, risking a long talk with a total dud. It’s still worth a shot: even a long flight is finite.

So, let’s look at 10 ways you can pursue love or lust in the friendliest of skies:

1. Stop working: focus on your career while you’re in your seat, and that’s all you’ll find waiting for you on the ground. Close your laptop. Put down those reports. Clear the tray table in front of you. Crack a smile.

2. Buy a drink: it works in a bar, right? Spring for a glass of wine or a mini-bottle of vodka. In addition to being nice, you’ll also have a great way to start a conversation, especially if the flight attendant does something nutty.

3. Start listening: and to something other than your iPod. A winning conversation starts with your ears (and this is the only way you’ll find out if your seatmate is your kind of crazy).

4. Do a little talking:
everyone loves a great listener, but you have to put some skin in the game to (especially if that’s ultimately your goal … so to speak). Chat up your neighbor, and be both honest and realistic. For a long-term connection, this is a must; for a quick jaunt to the back of the plane, it’ll take more than some quick talking.5. Make plans: whether you’re looking for a 30,000 foot liaison or something more enduring, make plans. It’s great to take what happens on a plane into the real world, so trade business cards and personal cell phone numbers. If all you want to do is make it back to the lav, plan that mad dash shortly after the beverage service starts.

6. Take advantage of open seating: for flights on the Delta Shuttle and Southwest, for example, board in the middle of the pack (great advice from USA Today). You’ll get a good idea of your choices and will still have plenty of seats available. Just don’t do this on easyJet. You’ll never hear the end of meeting someone on easyJet.

7. Use business cards: you don’t need cards to swap information, but it is a lot easier. Jotting digits down on a napkin is risky, and handwriting becomes an issue. Don’t leave anything to chance!

8. Leave the airport together:
if you’re going the same way as your new buddy, extend you trip a little. Offer to a share a cab or town car (or whatever ground transportation you choose). You’ll put a bit more time on your side.

9. Set it up: never leave sales call without scheduling your next one. Before you part ways, try to line up your next encounter. Then, all you’ll have to do next time is show up!

10. Hope for the best: who knows where it’s going? Cross your fingers, find a shooting star and carry your lucky penny.

[photo by hoyasmeg via Flickr]