Soloists Flying Friendlier Skies
|In Love Actually, the Hugh Grant romantic comedy that premiered a few years back, the airport was set as a stage for the loving communions of families, friends, lovers and even strangers. In reality, this picking-up spot is is not as perfect as it appears on screen when there is no one there waiting for you at the gate. Solo cab rides can be costly, long lines and delays can be lonely and mile high neighbors can be eh, not so wonderful.|
At first, savvy independent travelers were able to navigate the transportation mess informally through online classified directories, like Craigslist.com and FlyerTalk.com. These days an onslaught of newer, Web 2.0 websites are making flight connections (and delays) even friendlier, using social networking technology.
There is more to en route match-matching services than finding a perfect mate. PairUp.com touts the same capabilities as its counterparts AirTroductions and FlightClub, yet appeals exclusively to the solo business traveler. And on all of these sites, lone stars can meet other like-minded flyers for pleasure or work prior to departure, upon take-off or after a flight. Individuals are finding the connections advantageous when trying to avoid parking and cab fees, make key business contacts or play it safe in a strange city. To get started you must simply create a personal profile, then punch in your itinerary details before taking a flight. You will then automatically be notified of other members who are scheduled on the same flight so that you can pre-select a seat near or alongside your passenger of choice, or correspond with them in advance.
It's no surprise that websites like Pairup.com are tapping into a burgeoning segment within the travel market. According to a recent survey of 8,449 single people in the U.S. by market research firm Mintel International Group, 61% had traveled domestically in the last year, spending an average of $438 on a domestic airline ticket.
What remains to be seen? The brave at heart can do-it-themselves through niche providers which let individuals find a couch to crash on Couchsurfing.com or GlobalFreeloaders.com.