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Lasting connections: Love at the airport

By Sarah LeTrent, CNN
updated 10:25 AM EDT, Mon June 11, 2012
For some couples, romance blossoms at the airport.
For some couples, romance blossoms at the airport.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Even when you're not looking, love may find you at the airport
  • These couples had fortuitous meetings in transit
  • "I do feel lucky, and I do believe in fate," said one lucky-in-love traveler

Editor's note: The Traveler's Psyche is a five-week series focusing on travel scenarios that stir emotion. We've looked at rage, frustration and the TSA, plus passions shaped by travel, whether it's love for a person or a plane. This week we'll explore the psychology of a successful getaway and some of the anxieties that come with the joys of travel.

(CNN) -- The ever-increasing baggage fees, the full-body scans, the unpredictable delays: Much is made about the woeful mechanics of travel.

Some travelers, however, pick up a lifelong souvenir well worth the stress of the airport before they even reach their final stop.

Former flight attendant Beverlie Nichols knows it's more about the journey than the destination.

Two days before Valentine's Day in 2011, Nichols was flying into Maine's Portland International Jetport when a broken lavatory plunged her into a whirlwind romance.

Once the plane was grounded, a ramp agent walked on to handle the repair. As the flight boarded to head back to Washington, the ramp agent and Nichols struck up a lively conversation at the end of the jet bridge.

That night when Nichols returned home, she had a Facebook friend request from a name she didn't recognize.

"After rejecting his request, something was tugging at me to look into who he was and why he requested me to be his friend. After I looked through his pictures I recognized him as the ramper from PWM," Nichols said.

Can your lover pass this test?

After accepting the friend request, the two immediately began instant messaging, and the next week when Nichols was scheduled for an overnight in Portland, she and her new Facebook friend, Jon Lee, decided to have dinner together.

Nichols was a recent divorcee and "doing anything but looking for a relationship." Lee was also recently hurt by an ex and hadn't seriously dated since.

"When we met, although we knew we were falling hard and fast for one another, we continued to say, 'I'm not looking for anyone right now, but we can be friends and see where it goes!'" Nichols said.

Both parties' hesitation to open up couldn't stop their spark igniting into a full-on flame. Soon, they were spending four to six days a week together. Nichols tried to get trips to Portland as often as possible while Lee would fly to visit her in Washington on his days off.

"Since both of us are used to working in the airline industry, we didn't want a delay on this, too," Nichols said.

Less than six months later, the couple was engaged. Beverlie Nichols is now Beverlie Lee and the couple is raising two kids from her previous marriage in Maine, the state where they originally made their lasting connection.

It started in a bar

Nora Plunkett wasn't looking for love. Love found her.

Plunkett, 34, met her husband, John Dudley, at an airport bar after a turbulent weekend with a man from her past in San Diego.

"I had recently gotten back in touch with the guy from my past, but it was clear that it wasn't going to work. I hadn't had the time to think about meeting anyone new."

At the bar, Plunkett kept trying to text and call her sister to recount the dreadful weekend, but couldn't get a signal. Meanwhile, Dudley kept looking for a way to start talking to her. When she looked up from her phone at the Cubs game on the TV in the bar, he swung -- and hit a grand slam.

They were able to continue their conversation and sit together on their flight from San Diego to Chicago because of Southwest Airlines' open seating policy.

On the way to baggage claim, Dudley asked her out. The couple is now married and recently added some extra cargo: their first child.

"At the time we met, we lived 10 minutes from each other in Chicago, but it wasn't until we were thousands of miles away from home that we connected," she said.

Plunkett saved the cocktail napkin from the flight home and framed it for her husband on their first anniversary.

"I do feel lucky, and I do believe in fate. John's brother passed away unexpectedly a year prior almost to the day that we met. I like to think that he was looking out for his little brother and putting all of the pieces in place for us to meet," she said.

A woman on a mission

Unlike Nichols and Plunkett, Holly Lutz was actively on a quest for love.

Lutz scheduled a trip to Club Med Turkoise, an adults-only resort in Turks and Caicos, in 1988. Ironically, she would meet the love of her life before wheels down at her final destination.

"Let's just say I intentionally went away on my own. I told my mom at the time I was going to find a new husband as if it was a fun job. This was recently after a divorce, and I was still only 28 at the time," she said.

Find a new husband is exactly what she did.

She and her now-husband, Ray Xerri, chit-chatted at the airport and found they were bound for the same destination but scheduled for different flights. When Ray's flight got delayed, he was switched to Holly's, much to her delight.

Their plane took off, but air traffic detoured their courtship. The plane had to turn around mid-flight. Ray ended up on his original flight while Holly disappointedly waited overnight at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York for the next plane in the morning.

"I arrived one day later than him. He had a big smile on his face as I approached him on a lounge chair," said the now Mrs. Xerri.

On May 29, they celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary.

Have you encountered a special someone in transit? Please share! We're also interested in your greatest travel wins, whether serendipitous or carefully planned. Do you have a travel moment that changed your life, made your trip, restored your faith in humanity or otherwise impressed you? Tell us about it for possible inclusion in an upcoming story.

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