POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

Orlando International Airport: Lovely spot to connect?

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Shopping at Orlando International Airport

The array of shops at Orlando International Airport offer opportunities to meet, as well as souvenirs. (GEORGE SKENE, ORLANDO SENTINEL / December 16, 2009)

Here's a new spin on the idea that getting there is half the fun:

A new study, commissioned by the Axe body spray company, has ranked Orlando International Airport as the 22nd best airport in the country to "make a connection" (wink, wink), up 12 spots from its ranking two years ago.

That's far short of Minneapolis-St. Paul International at No. 5, but then again we didn't have the additional publicity of a U.S. Senator dealing with wide-stance issues in the men's room.

In truth, the Axe "connection" rankings are formulated through a variety of factors: OIA's rise was a reflection of its assortment of retail shops and restaurants, a social plus negated by a one percent flight cancellation rate. No canceled flights means less time for making new friends.

Other drawbacks, according to the study: OIA's free Internet and Wi-Fi tends to keep eyes locked on computer screens and cell phones instead of meeting potential love connections.

I've been through OIA plenty of times and never really considered it as a backdrop for romance. Something about taking your shoes off at a security checkpoint just kills the mood.

Fortunately, the folks involved with the study have more imagination. Robert Reid, U.S. travel editor of Lonely Planet, contributed a list of do's and don'ts for making connections in the airport and on the plane.

In the terminal, the key is to make the most of any potential chances for interaction, Reid advises. Do what you can to encourage impromptu chats in one of the many lines you'll likely encounter at baggage check-in, security or escalators and such.

It's a good idea to let someone ahead of you in line — and it's also polite. At the gate, find a spot in a busy area, but next to some empty seats that might open the possibility of conversation.

What not to do: Don't stare. Come equipped with reading material and occasionally offer a slight chuckle about something. (I don't know if I could pull off the "slight chuckle," but maybe that's why I've never met anyone at an airport.)

Reid's other advice: Don't take off your shoes, except at the security checkpoint.
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