A newspaper. Gum. A bottle of water.
These aren’t the only things travelers are picking up at the airport nowadays.
“Share a drink with an attractive stranger in the totally safe environment of a public airport,” reads the home page of the new website Meetattheairport.com. While it resembles mainstream dating sites like Match.com and OkCupid — members create profiles with their photos, age, body type — Meet at the Airport also asks users to include the name of their local airport, the time they’ll be there or the location and time that they’ll be at any other terminal in the world.
It’s among a rash of new apps and sites designed to connect travelers with one another (or with locals) for friendship, love or something in between. Whether you’re looking for a tour guide, a travel buddy or a frequent-flying soul mate, here’s how to find a site that’s right for you.
• If you’re looking for love: Members of Meetattheairport.com — which enables travelers to find and message one another if they are passing through an airport at the same time — describe themselves in one of several ways: “looking for something serious,” “looking for something casual,” “open to possibilities” (whatever that means), “looking for friends only,” “just looking to talk and pass the time” or “looking for a travel friend.” There are a number of options, though it seems most users want more than a friend. There are many single travelers (they note this in the “relationship status” section) seeking dates.
There are also some married travelers for whom that detail does not appear to preclude seeking dates. At least they’re honest. Consider it a reminder to read the fine print.
Speaking of which, like most dating sites and social networks, Meet at the Airport states in its fine print (seriously, I needed a magnifying glass) that “it does not take responsibility in checking the truth or accuracy of any information posted to the website” and that it does not “screen the content of any information provided to it.”
Bottom line: Airport dating is an amusing idea, but if you do arrange a rendezvous don’t share your flight information or itinerary with your date — you don’t want a stranger trailing you in a strange city. And be sure to tell friends or family where, when and with whom you’re meeting (Panda Express, Terminal 4, 3 o’clock!). Also promise that afterward you will call them (not text because, hey, a text can be sent by anyone).
• If you’re a woman going solo: Women who are traveling alone but don’t necessarily want to eat alone can scour Inviteforabite.com for public invitations from other female travelers. Why only women? Safety. In some neighborhoods visiting a bar at night by yourself is unwise and, as the site contends, “meeting unknown men for dinner far from home is risky.” A recent search on Invite for a Bite brought up invitations for dinner in Rome, coffee in Hamburg and brunch in Singapore. You can also post your own invitation.
Bottom line: A smart concept, though so far there is not a critical mass of users so there are not as many invitations as one might hope.