How to Meet People on a Flight During a Pandemic

On a flight last week from Toronto to London, Ontario, everybody was wearing masks. Of course, now we have to. And it struck me how this really levels the playing field. No matter if you are in economy, business or first class, at this time, you must wear a mask while flying. I don’t enjoy wearing a mask, but I agree that it can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, so I’m ok to wear one. 

Offer a Greeting

I greeted the woman who had the window seat next to where I was to sit by just saying, “Hello.” She said the same back but we did not get into a conversation. This 78 passenger plane has two rows of two down each side and the flight was full. About I’m not pushy about having a conversation with the person sitting next to me on the flight, but I always make a point of letting the other person know that I’m open to it, by at least greeting them. 

A conversation is born

About 30 minutes into the flight, she said to me, “You are a really good juggler.” I said, “Thank you. That’s kind of you to say. It’s because I’m in a circus.” And can you imagine, with that, we got into a conversation? I had been juggling while inside the airport terminal to pass the time.

We chatted about how the performing arts world is being forced to evolve at this time and how many people including her daughter, are deciding to do something different than what they had planned pre-pandemic. And in general, we both agree that this is a good thing.

Of course, there are many negatives that have come from this global disruption, but I for one am grateful for how it – at least for a moment – slowed the world down. 

We talked about how the nuances of body language that are in a person’s face, are now missing. And how this forced lack of connection has made it more important for people to connect than ever before. The flight that we were on was much louder than I remember flights being as it seemed that pretty much everyone was speaking to one another. My partner, Renee had a lovely conversation with a woman beside her as well. She was just returning home from three months of isolation supporting indigenous communities with their mental health. 

The rules are changing

You can meet people in a pandemic, and the same rules and mindsets laid out for you in this book apply. You must have a willingness to connect with other people in order for it to be possible. And showing this willingness can start as easily as a simple greeting when you encounter another person. Ironically, even though while we are all in masks, we may look much less likely to be willing to engage in a conversation with a stranger, we may need it and be open to it more than ever. 

Here is an ARTICLE I wrote 7 years ago about how I met a celebrity by having a conversation on a flight. Society’s social rules are changing now, so why not give it a try?

Tony Esteves is an entrepreneur and performer who dearly wants more people to connect face-to-face. He is a facilitator and coach who created the Talk2MorePeople Project. In 2016/17 he met at least one new stranger a day for a full year. The Talk2MorePeople book – a guidebook for how to meet people, will be released on January 21, 2021. Tony is passionate about being outdoors, travel and play.