Somehow, seemingly out of nowhere, airport crushes have become an undeniable part of the flying experience for most young people. So what the bloody hell is behind our obsession with meeting the perfect person in an airport? Let’s open our minds and more importantly, our hearts.
A quick TikTok search for the term “airport crush” will tell you everything you need to know about how far-reaching this shared fantasy is amongst Earth’s youths™. Any young person who has a social media account has likely seen or uploaded a story about their own airport crush.
This video of @allieschnacky captioned “why is there always so much tension between you and someone your age on the plane” has a massive 13.5mil views and 1.6mil likes.
A similar vid by @rachhyng copped 5.1mil views and 1.2mil likes by the time of writing.
Categories of airport crush TikToks
After consuming an ungodly amount of airport crush TikTok content in the name of “journalistic research”, I’ve noticed two main categories emerge.
Videos in the first category make the airport love interest the #maincharacter of the story.
Nine times out of 10, these video videos end with nothing happening between the TikToker and their crush. Not even a basic “hello”. Tragic.
i feel like a stalker for this but airport crush 🥰🥰 if u see this, i’m so very sorry😖💕 hope you don’t mind! #fyp♬ follow Shalom Margaret on Spotify – shalom
Reflecting on this, it’s wild to think that subtly filming a stranger at an airport and posting it on TikTok for thousands of people to see has become more normalised than simply saying “hey” in real life.
At the risk of sounding like a boomer who says shit like “you bloody young people are always on ya phones” (even though boomers nowadays deffo spend more time on their phones than young folk), it’s an interesting cultural phenomenon to observe.
The second category is filled with TikToks that purely fantasise about future possibilities rather than the present reality.
These uploads centre the TikToker as the #maincharacter, instead of their crush.
Vids in this sub-genre are preoccupied with the idea of “being” the airport crush, as opposed to finding an airport crush.
A good example would be this video captioned “getting ready for my flight so I can be someone’s airport crush”.
A fascinating element of these uploads is how the TikToker uses their awareness of the airport crush phenomenon to endear themselves with a sense of autonomy. A sense that they are actually in control of the situation.
In reality, they are at the mercy of loads of different factors such as the airline’s seating arrangement and the age range of fellow passengers. This means that in the vast majority of cases, nothing is likely to eventuate. *Sad face*.
So if the airport crush phenomenon has been largely fruitless in the past, why are we all still drawn in by its mysticism?
Well, I have three possible answers.
1. Airports aren’t a natural habitat for young folk.
I believe the first reason we romanticise airport love is that airports are normally a space for families and cashed-up oldies.
As young people, we’re co-existing in a space also occupied by screaming babies, 50-year-olds on business trips and new mums desperately trying to get their babies to shush.
When we encounter another young person in a sitch like this we feel a sense of shared alienation.
There is an unspoken acknowledgement that the other young person feels just as out of place as we do.
2. Rom-coms and Hollywood.
The second reason is because airports are overwhelmingly depicted as romantic settings in the media we consume.
You only have to look as far as Friends and Love Actually to see how much a place like an airport can impact the characters’ lives.
Literally and symbolically, airports are a place of both departure and arrival for film and TV characters.
Airports are also a liminal space where due to the huge amount of variables such as scheduling, seating arrangements, pilots and the onboard menu — anything could serendipitously happen.
Piggybacking on that point, a plane ride is widely seen as a huge decision in a character’s story arc.
It’s (usually) expensive, the distance travelled is vast and they’re most likely taking treasured possessions with them.
This means when a film/TV character is at an airport, they’re most likely have all the stuff they need to start fresh.
The same goes for you, the reader of this article!
Even if you didn’t plan on it, there’s probably always that little “what if” thought bouncing around in your noggin when you’re at an airport.
Naturally, there’s going to be a lot of emotion wrapped up in a place that facilitates binding decisions such as moving away from loved ones or moving into the unknown.
3. They’re fkn dull.
The third reason is the most simple. Airports are fucken boring.
There’s literally nothing to do unless you’re in that episode of Kath & Kim where Kath and Kel have their entire honeymoon inside Melbourne Airport.
It’s busy, there’s barely anywhere to sit and everything’s bloody expensive. Fancy an $18 sanga? How about get fucked.
You know what doesn’t cost a cent? You guessed it. Airport crushes.
At the very least, searching for an airport crush distracts us from the monotony of eye-balling the departures screen.
So there you have it!
Airport crush academic/meme analysis COMPLETE.
The only thing left to do now is to…umm…book a flight?