Love is in the air if you know how to find it

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - DAVID CAR­ROLL

IN the world of cinema, when an at­trac­tive sin­gle woman finds her­self sit­ting next to a charm­ing stranger on a flight there are re­ally only two pos­si­ble out­comes. Best-case sce­nario is that fate throws the two to­gether (re­luc­tantly) in a mad­cap ro­man­tic farce that in­evitably leads to a heart-warm­ing end­ing. Think of perky Meg Ryan strolling hand-in-hand with Kevin Kline through a pic­turesque vine­yard at the end of French Kiss.

Worst-case sce­nario? The charm­ing stranger will turn out to be a psy­chopath who takes his com­pan­ion on a ter­ri­fy­ing ride be­fore he in­evitably meets a heart-stop­ping end. Think of Rachel Mca­dams run­ning from a knife-wield­ing Cil­lian Mur­phy at the end of Red Eye.

In the real world, at­trac­tive women and charm­ing men sit next to each other all the time, but af­ter mak­ing a con­nec­tion they dis­em­bark and could spend the rest of their lives won­der­ing if that per­son was ‘‘the one’’.

But not if Will Scully-power has any­thing to do with it. He’s the founder of weme­t­on­a­plane. com, a new web­site de­signed to help air­line pas­sen­gers track down their po­ten­tial soul mates.

It’s a sub­ject close to his heart. Last July, while trav­el­ling back to Syd­ney from Asia, Scully-power was look­ing for­ward to stretch­ing out on the empty seat next to his when, to his dis­ap­point­ment, the last pas­sen­ger to board plonked her­self down. They ended up chat­ting for much of the jour­ney and even watched a movie to­gether. When he dis­em­barked in Syd­ney the young woman, Maia, who was on her way home to New Zealand, gave Scul­lyPower her email ad­dress. Be­fore he had even left the air­port, he’d used his phone to find her Face­book page and con­nect.

‘‘The only rea­son I could do that was be­cause her full name was con­tained in her email ad­dress,’’ Scully-power says. ‘‘But I won­dered what would have hap­pened if I didn’t have her name. I as­sumed this must hap­pen all the time, so I guessed most peo­ple just tried to find the per­son on­line or started their own blog and hoped for a mir­a­cle.’’

Scully-power is the co-founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Datarati, an on­line mar­ket­ing, an­a­lyt­ics and op­ti­mi­sa­tion com­pany, so he was well equipped to re­search on­line ac­tiv­ity. He found that glob­ally more than 4400 peo­ple type ‘‘met on a plane’’ into Google ev­ery week. ‘‘What I also dis­cov­ered was that noth­ing ex­isted to help them,’’ he says. Not any more. Now any­one who has ever sus­pected love was in the air can go to weme­t­on­a­, type in their flight and des­ti­na­tion de­tails and share their story.

‘‘Ba­si­cally we en­cour­age peo­ple to be as de­tailed as pos­si­ble: say, ‘Seat 52B, met a 25-year-old brunette who lives in Syd­ney and we talked about . . .’ You then hit a but­ton which con­nects to your Face­book or Twit­ter news­feed, help­ing cre­ate a vi­ral ef­fect for the site. ‘‘If you (are) the per­son who’s be­ing looked for, you go to the site, search for your flight, and you (will) see all the sto­ries from that jour­ney. If you recog­nise the per­son, you can then com­ment on their story and they im­me­di­ately re­ceive an email. That’s how the con­nec­tion is made.’’

Scully-power says it’s up to in­di­vid­u­als to de­cide what kind of con­tact de­tails they pro­vide, but one op­tion is to give their Face­book name or ad­dress rather than phone num­bers, which al­lows a per­son to re­view your pro­file be­fore ac­cept­ing.

Four months af­ter meet­ing, Scully-power and Maia got to­gether in Australia, en­joyed a snow­board­ing hol­i­day in New Zealand, and soon she had flown across the Tas­man to start a new life in Syd­ney. Just like some­thing out of a movie, re­ally. David Car­roll’s col­umn on new travel tech­nol­ogy ap­pears monthly in Travel & In­dul­gence.

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