The following account is written by my now fiancé whom I met on a Southwest Airlines flight.
When I moved back to Des Moines after a few years away, Southwest was a new option for traveling. For my first Southwest flight, I dutifully checked in when I got to the airport, which I didn't realize until later meant I was destined for a middle seat in the back of the aircraft.
Boarding the plane, it immediately became my priority to find overhead space in the bin. I walked down the aisle with my eyes fixed on the overheads, looking for space for my suitcase. Row after row, even where there were vacant seats, there was no overhead room. Finally, I saw a space and I stowed my suitcase. Only then did I begin looking around for any available seat. Just to my right, there was a woman with long, dark hair with an open seat next to her. I don't remember anything about whoever was in the window seat. It was at that moment—I realized in retrospect—that my mind centered on what would end up being my most successful pick-up line ever.
"Uhh ... is that seat taken?"
I sat down next to this woman, shoved my backpack between my feet, and buckled my seatbelt. I don't remember how the conversation started, but once it did, it lasted the entire flight. It even survived the stale, crumbling gum I offered her. Tip for future flyers, if you don't know how long gum has been in your backpack; try it before politely offering it to someone else.
Our plane landed in Chicago about 20 minutes ahead of schedule due to a medical emergency and we walked together through the Chicago Midway Airport once we had deplaned. She pointed out the Potbelly Sandwich Shop (sadly, it’s no longer there) as we walked by and recommended I try it. I later learned that Potbelly is somewhat of a minor obsession for her.
We said our goodbyes as she left the terminal to stay in Chicago for the weekend and I went to catch a connecting flight to Dallas. However, before this we had determined that we had the same flight from Chicago back to Des Moines on Sunday night, so I said that perhaps I would see her then.
A long weekend passed. Hers with old friends, mine at a conference for a non-profit where I volunteer. I have friends who attended the conference with me who can confirm that I talked about this woman I met on the plane, and they wished me luck meeting her again on the return trip. I flew from Dallas to Chicago, having learned my lesson and checked in 24 hours earlier. She apparently forgot. As we lined up to board, I saw her waiting for a later boarding group and told her I would save her a seat. She sat next to me, and I didn't stop talking the entire way home. Excited by the recent conference, I talked her ear off.
Once we landed, we walked through the airport in Des Moines and then parted ways as she got her car and I caught a shuttle to another lot. I asked her for her phone number, and she obliged. I called it right away, so she'd have mine, and we stood there as her phone sat, not ringing. She insisted it was her real number.
Eventually, the phone networks had mercy on this awkward moment, and her phone started to ring. We parted ways, I went to my car to head home, and the trip was over.
No offense, Southwest, but no trip since has been as good or memorable as that one. It's not really your fault.
It was on that first Southwest trip that I met Sara. Our wedding is in September 2018 and we owe our meet-cute to the middle seat.