Annie Balart was flying home to New Orleans when a fellow traveler caught her eye at the airport’s baggage claim area. “We did an equal amount of checking each other out from across the carousel,” she admits. The guy, Wes Michaels, decided that if their bags came out at the exact same time, he would work up the nerve to talk to her. Despite the long odds, the suitcases spilled onto the belt next to each other. An airport connection was born.
The airport may seem an unlikely place to find romance. After all, busy passengers are usually more concerned with making their flights than in striking up a conversation. But once storms roll in and planes get grounded—suddenly, those coffee shops, lounges, and bars lining the terminal start doubling as potential meeting spots.
A chance encounter can certainly make being in travel limbo more interesting, and according to a study conducted by Sperling’s Best Places on behalf of the men’s grooming company Axe, your likelihood of hitting it off with a fellow passenger depends on what city—and more specifically, what airport—you’re in.
By examining weather pattern data, delayed-flight statistics, and a range of amenities at 35 airports worldwide—across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East—researchers found that six of the date-friendliest airports are located right here in the U.S., while the remaining four are in Europe. Other airports like Singapore and Sydney either got their passengers airborne faster or lacked the kind of diversions Americans and Europeans have come to expect.
Some of the flirtiest terminals, like San Francisco International, are ranked higher in overall satisfaction by visitors and have more restaurants, bars, bookstores, retail shops, and club lounges per traveler than their counterparts elsewhere (SFO also boasts an aquarium and several museum exhibits). So whether you’re facing a layover or a weather delay (and historical data indicate there’s a real possibility that here, you will), there’s no shortage of venues to pass the time and meet someone—and, hopefully, jet off with their contact info.
Conversely, at the 10 international airports with the best weather, best on-time departure record, and fewest outlets for itinerant flirting, the only thing you may have time to pick up is your luggage. Charlotte Douglas International, for example, failed to impress with its selection of social venues, so it’s probably a good thing that rain or fog rarely keep you on the ground for long.
Of course, every airport offers travelers some chance at finding love. Take Annie Balart and Wes Michaels: two years after their luggage linkup, they cut their wedding cake. It was designed in the shape of the New Orleans airport’s baggage-claim area.