Meeting Interesting People at Airports

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by FetePerfection, May 10, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. FetePerfection
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    FetePerfection Silver Member

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    There's a recent thread on Helping Strangers at Airports which got me thinking about meeting interesting people at airports. I don't travel to the extent that some of you do, however I've had my fair share of conversations with very unique individuals. I'll share my more memorable moments if you will.

    Met a fellow from Czech Republic who's on his way back from the Republic of Congo - he's a UN worker who described his world behind the fortress walls where he and his colleagues must live to stay safe. It sounds like they take their life in their hands every day given the tribal wars and government corruption but the pay is outstanding so he signed on for a five year stint. He had about 18 more months before his tour was over and is sitting on a tidy sum back home.

    We spent over three hours chatting mostly about his experiences. It was fascinating.
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    I'm more likely to talk with someone on a plane than in the airport. I'll also frequently chat in hotel club lounges (not in the public bar downstairs), but there I'm especially careful not to reveal my name, room number, or any information about me personally, so I do a quick check before bringing any documents and papers into the lounge. It's nice to chat a bit with others when I'm travelling alone as otherwise one can feel a bit isolated at times.
     
  3. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    For some reason I don't get to talk to strangers in airports or even on airplanes much. I travel alone often I still have only a handful of times I can remember where my seat mate talked to me (most weren't positive experiences, why do strangers feel like crass political/religious statements are the best entry points to making new friends?). I tend to make the best interactions with strangers at my destination with the locals.

    BTW, welcome to MilePoint FetePerfection! :)
     
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  4. Concerto
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    I have met some very interesting people both at airports and on flights -- musicians, television personalities, company executives, various elected officials and, in general, some really nice folks! Especially on a long flight, it can be fun to have a seatmate who is able to carry on an intelligent conversation about many varied topics. :) Of course, there are times I just want to be left alone (or I don't care for the person sitting next to me) and then I just put on the headphones so I can snooze and/or listen to music.

    As a former white-knuckle flyer, though, it is quite incredible how often I end up beside someone who is absolutely terrified of flying!! So, I sometimes find myself calming them down and explaining the various noises that can be frightening to those who are not familiar with aircraft. Also, the flights I have been fortunate to take with stunt pilots attending our local air show and a few of the techniques I was taught many years ago when taking self-hypnosis (for fear of flying) have come in quite handy when helping some of these people! :D

    Like MSP, though, I am also extremely cautious about giving out any personal information regarding my home or where I am staying at my destination. As a woman travelling alone most of the time, I feel it is wise to be careful about these types of details.
     
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  5. goodandclassy
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    My favorite encounter was in November of 2010

    I engaged in an RDU mileage run, and ran into at least two other flyertalkers en route. The RDU-JFK flight was maybe half full of people who were there for the double miles. Lively conversation, amused FA's, and a quick two hours en route.

    One of the guys flew with me for five segments - so we were practically friends at the end of the trip :)

    I guess i should invest in MP bag tags once they are available :p
    (I didn't have FT tags either - just an air of adventure i guess... haha)
     
  6. FetePerfection
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    I have an approachable demeanor and a very recognizable face...kidding there, but people often sit down next to or across for me and engage in conversation. I guard my privacy and offer very few details, but do enjoy learning more about people's perspectives and experiences. Many are intrigued by my job as a destination wedding planner and love to share their personal stories so this may explain why and how this happens. My UN guy and I had over three hours to kill in the AMS lounge so it was a welcome relief and time passer...in fact I almost missed my connection :rolleyes:

    Thanks DestinationDavid for the welcome.
     
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  7. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    Whether or not I have interaction on the plane itself is often a function of which cabin I'm in. I'm trying to remember the last involved conversation I've had in F/B, while it's much more likely to happen in the back of the bus (though I do have a few very memorable ones in both classes). Road warriors vs. casual travelers, with road warriors more likely to have their coccoon routines while casual flyers are on an adventure, especially internationally.

    In coach, I'm loathe to admit my occupation unless I don't want to read, sleep or be quiet for the rest of the flight, so I guard that information almost more zealously than personally identifiable info.

    For hotels, airports, other public areas, I do tend to have conversations start spontaneously. Like MSP and Concerto, have to be cautious as a woman traveling alone. More likely to chat and share drinks in concierge lounges than a hotel bar, always get my own beverages and food, etc. I have had some interesting encounters, like at check in at the JW Marriott Quito with a security expert for the State Department who swooped in even before I was finished with the clerk, a deep metaphysical conversation at the Marriott Harbor Beach when a full bar led the hostess to ask if I minded letting a gentleman sit with me, and the like.

    Most of the time I'm open to conversation, and find traveling alone, especially as a woman, I get more great interactions when traveling than when I have a traveling companion. Both with men and woman, and very few romantically motivated. I think solo travelers are more approachable unless you send out serious closed non-verbals. In fact, some of my favorite travel memories involve chance encounters and shared experiences with strangers - in Siena at the Palio sharing spontaneous excitement with a group in the immediate vicinity, in Egypt at the Pyramids and China at the Great Wall having groups of schoolgirls rush up to ask for pictures together, etc. I want to stay open to that joy of travel always.
     
  8. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    My most memorable in flight conversation was with a very nice lady on a DL flight from Iah to atl in this late 90s. We both talked about our travel obsessions (refer to the other presently active post from the op) and really hit it off, ultimately becoming a couple for a year!

    We were both PMs at the time, when getting to PM was tough (100k bis miles, no mqm or Amex mqm bonuses back then) and too much travel ended things, too...
     
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  9. ab3i
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    the duration of the flight is directly proportional to my openness to talk to fellow passengers in an airplane. Long flights, i'll be happy to spend hours discussing everything under the sun, not so much on shorter flights (esp. on thursday nights leaving the client site). That being said, I have met some really interesting people on many flights from the first time fliers, to the people with more flight miles than i can even imagine, regardless, everyone has a story or two to tell :) I'll say this much, some of those people left an impression, and made the flight(s) more memorable!
     
  10. JohnDeere19
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    I flew next to an FTer once who was an AA Exp...apparently I stole his exit row seats after he and his wife were accidentally upgraded with eVips :p...thanks expertflyer!
     
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  11. goodandclassy
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    Now i'm all curious :D

    so what do you do? or when is your next flight haha
     
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  12. BurBunny
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    Currently scheduled next flights are in August, though I'm looking for a good MR between now and then. As for the other, shouldn't be too hard for you to find that info :D
     
  13. FetePerfection
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    Found it! Your job, like mine, sounds way more glamorous than it is. People don't understand all the details, planning, coordination and troubleshooting that goes on. It just sounds FUN...
     
  14. BurBunny
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    Got that right! I'm fortunate that I absolutely love what I do, and while happy always to share the passion, it does tend to reduce the relaxation/reading/sleeping time once that conversation begins. I'm fortunate I do get to indulge in some of the "glamourous" benefits of the profession, but work at least twice as hard because of it. :)

    Now your profession on the other hand - egads! The stress! I can't imagine what you go through daily with your clientele.
     
  15. FetePerfection
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    I'm fortunate in that I can choose my clients and reject others - so if I've done a good job at the initial consultation, the planning is enjoyable and builds to a wonderful memorable day for the entire family. The best part however is my destination brides who generally are more laid back. I've been countries I probably never would have otherwise AND the best part is I get paid for it.
     
  16. BurBunny
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    That's the way to do it!
     
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  17. MikeIAH
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    It's always nice to see fellow MR'ers on the same four or five segments. The constant looking at upgrade lists and trying to figure out how to get everyone into the RCC or the PC. And then what was supposed to be an uneventful MR turning into drinking and fun. I guess that happens regardless traveling.

    On one MR, met an air force first sergeant on his way home (he wasn't in uniform.) Struck up a conversation on the plane, he was connecting, I was sort of connecting, so we went to the RCC at LAX. He described to me his air force life and duties of being responsible for, I believe, 500 airmen. He was actually still working while in the lounge. Pretty cool guy.
     
  18. goodandclassy
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    Welcome to MilePoint!

    yeah, as much as i found the 4x jfk-rdu run in a weekend, the experience was a lot of fun...
    I'd do it again :D
     
  19. MikeIAH
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    Haha. It took me three months to finally post something on MP. It took me three years to get to 100 posts on FT. On my way to silver status!
     
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  20. goodandclassy
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    that's the spirit :)
     
  21. MSPeconomist
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    The good news is that yo got your 25 status points for Original before the May 15th cutoff. Have you been to the thread in Community Center yet to vote (with a like) for your favorite T-shirt design?
     

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