Some Figures

Fair Warning: I’m a liberal arts major.

The natural concern of a staunch introvert and hopeless romantic boarding a plane is, €œWho will be occupying the seat next to mine?€  A man personally known to my father met his wife on a relatively short domestic flight.  They were married days after and will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in the near future.  We€™ll throw that story out as anecdotal.  Meeting a cute girl on a plane is one thing, but I demand a decently long period of dating before throwing my life into a permanent commitment.  That said, I am not opposed to meeting a nice girl on a flight.  I think I€™d rather enjoy sharing my row with some sweet cute young thing.  This has never really happened.  I mean, one young girl fell asleep on my shoulder, but she was merely passable.  The whole thing has me wondering, €œWhat are the odds of finding yourself next to an attractive girl on an airplane?€  Well, one man found his odds of meeting a potential life partner on any given night out in London as about .00034% through application of the Drake Equation.  The only catch is, for the Drake Equation to be a valid equation we must be willing to take a remarkable amount of bull from Frank Drake.  Let€™s assume that I€™m the kind of person that does take a lot of bull from others€¦ – a dangerous assumption indeed!  Adaptation of the Drake Equation is a common sense procedure.  The odds of sitting with a cute girl on an airplane is about:

%chance = (Txfxaxa2)/S


T = Total number of people flying on a particular plane.

f = Percentage of traveling population that will be female.  In theory, this will be about 50%-51% varying slightly depending on region.  However, a cross section of those traveling by air does not necessarily reflect the general population.  I€™d venture that slightly fewer females fly than males.  I have no statistical basis for this, just observation.  If this is indeed true, I€™d blame the business man for skewing the percentages ever so slightly.  All that, until I have evidence to the contrary, I will mark this variable as 50%.

a = Percentage of girls you find attractive.  For me, this is about .  If you are a girl with 4 female friends, the odds are I find at least one of you physically attractive.  If you ask me about your friends and I tell you I find none of them attractive, then you may just be your group€™s looker.

a2 = Percentage of girls aboard that fall into your age range.  A hard-fast rule for datable ages comes from Randall Munroe.  The minimum age you can date is calculated at .  I€™m 19, so my minimum datable age is 17.  This holds as legal in most jurisdictions and not only a little socially awkward.  To calculate the maximum age you can date, simply solve for your age. I€™ll save you a little time: maximum datable age = 2(your age – 7).  You€™ll note that the older you get the wider the range of ages you are allowed to date.  My percentage range is from 17 to 24.  I have no idea what percentage of the general population this accounts for.

s = The number of seats on the plane.  Right now I am onboard an A320 with 148 seats.  This will vary by the particular flight, but about 150 seats is true of most domestic flights.

s and T will be equal if the flight is packed.  This actually works in your favor.

So, here is what we have so far:

%Chance of sitting next to a cute girl as calculated for various estimations of a2:

.3 % = 3%/10

3% = 30%/10

6% = 60%/10

Well, you get the idea.  Your odds are bad.

Which explains why I€™m now sitting with two guys who are reading a Maxim magazine, the very definition of dirtbag.

Note: I€™ve assumed that you only have one seat bordering you.  So you are in an aisle or window seat.  If you€™re one of those people who likes to live dangerously and sit in the middle just divide your s value by 2.

Posted in General, Travel.

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