9 Tips for Proposing on an Airplane

Feb 14, 2019

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Popping the question at 35,000 feet is a surefire way to impress your potential spouse and, possibly, go viral on Reddit. Whether or not you’re revealing an egg-sized sparkler (a là “Crazy Rich Asians”), an inflight proposal is an easy way to dazzle your soulmate — especially if you’re both serious AvGeeks.

On-board proposals have been pulled off all over the world, on flights from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne, from Rome to Dubai and from Chicago to New York City. Airlines love to share the memorable moment with their customers; Southwest has seen so many proposals they’ve affectionately become known as the “Love Airline.”

“It’s a daunting task to try and count how many proposals we’ve witnessed onboard since 1971, but each year we have more than a handful of couples who begin their forever journey with us inflight,” Derek K. Hubbard, senior specialist, external communications for Southwest Airlines, told The Points Guy.

If a mile-high “I do” is your dream come true, make it foolproof with these expert tips for how to propose on an airplane.

(Photo by Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash)
(Photo by Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash)

1. Know Thy Partner

It’s easy to get swept up in the rom-com appeal of an inflight proposal, but before you move ahead, first consider your partner. Would popping the question in front of hundreds of strangers make him or her burst into surprise-and-delight tears … or curl into the fetal position and sob into the tray table? Just because you might be all-in for an over-the-top display of affection doesn’t mean your partner is equally gung-ho. The proposal should be reflective of who you are as a couple, not just as individuals.

2. Formulate a Game Plan

If you already have a flight booked together, consider timing it to the proposal; chances are your partner will be less suspicious on an existing itinerary. If you decide to plan a new getaway — during which you pop the question en-route to your romantic escape — be sure choose a destination that requires at least a two-hour flight. When you factor in the time it takes for boarding, ascent, in-flight food and beverage service and more, the actual time you have for a relaxed, romantic moment can be limited. With two hours of flight time or more, you’ll have a cushion in case you need to improvise.

3. Splurge on Business Class

If there were ever a time to cash in your stockpile of points for business class fare, this is it. The extra space, early boarding, attentive service, high-end food and drink and added privacy will no doubt help the proposal go smoothly.

If your itinerary happens to overlap with a route in which Qatar Airways operates its Qsuite business-class product (currently rolling out to its fleet of Boeing 777-300ERs, Airbus A350-1000s and select A350-900s), spring for the premium cabin. Movable panels let couples adapt their space into a fully private suite. Some transform into double suites with a lie-flat double bed (book rear-facing seats labeled ‘E’ and ‘F’ for that side-by-side bed configuration), and some even can transform into a massive “quad” suite. The shared bed, sliding doors and “do not disturb” indicator guarantee an uninterrupted, intimate proposal.

(QSuite. Photo by Zach Honig/TPG)
(QSuite Business Class. Photo by Zach Honig/TPG)

4. Notify the Airline

Please don’t wing it. Hubbard told TPG that Inflight and Ground Operations teams appreciate advance notice; this helps you get the service and assistance you need, while also ensuring all safety rules and procedures are followed.

“The most successful inflight proposals occurred when our customers reached out to us via social media or email at least two weeks in advance,” Hubbard said. “It allowed us to get their information to the right people prior to departure.”

The added awareness may also lead to special touches from the inflight team. Hubbard recalls many a time when Southwest flight attendants have had Champagne available for the couple and even asked customers to share marriage advice on cocktail napkins during the flight. “They’ve gone so far as to make a crown out of pretzels and a toilet paper veil,” he said.

5. Pack the Ring in Your Carry-On

It’s an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to absentmindedly slide the box into your checked luggage when you’re thinking about the big moment. Avoid blowing up your plans by stowing the engagement ring somewhere safe on your person or in your handheld luggage (one that conforms with airline weight and size restrictions, of course).

(Photo by Mohammad Husni Baharudin / EyeEm/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mohammad Husni Baharudin / EyeEm/Getty Images)

6. Remind the Flight Crew

Once you’ve boarded the plane, sneak out of your seat and pop into the galley to introduce yourself to the inflight crew and explain that you’re the proposal couple. Safety is a top priority, Hubbard said, so don’t be surprised if the crew requests that you wait until the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign and the beverage and snack service has concluded. Popping the question during this lull guarantees that neither the crew nor the other passengers feel rushed or interrupted by the proposal.

7. Document the Moment

In order to share the proposal with all your loved ones back home, hand your cell phone to one of the flight attendants and ask him or her to snap as many photos as possible. (Make sure the phone stays unlocked!)

8. Make It Memorable 

“The most essential element of any proposal is to be completely vulnerable, authentic and heartfelt,” said Troy Williams of Simply Troy Lifestyle + Events, celebrity wedding planner for the likes of Julianne Hough and Eva Longoria. “You have one chance to make it memorable so be in the moment, lock eyes with your husband [or] wife to-be and share all of your emotions. A heartfelt speech and delivery creates a memory that lasts forever.”

Consider adding a few personalized touches beyond a simple speech. “We worked with a customer to load a proposal video onto all of the aircraft’s seat-back screens for his specific flight,” said Julianna Bryan, manager of corporate communications at JetBlue, of one memorable JetBlue proposal. “This let all of our customers on-board witness and share in the special moment.”

Troy suggests packing all of your future fiancé or fiancée’s favorite snacks and asking the flight attendants to pass them out to your seat at a specific time; or, ask if the crew can play your favorite song over the loudspeaker just after your partner says “Yes!”

(Photo by Melissa Tse/Getty Images)
(Photo by Melissa Tse/Getty Images)

9. Continue the Romance Upon Landing

“Upon landing, have a professional photographer waiting to take your photo as you descend the escalator at baggage claim,” suggested Williams. Then, when you return home, have family and friends at the airport with signs that say, “They flew away on [airline name] and landed in [destination name] ENGAGED!” It will grab the attention of all the airport guests and create a festive community for when the newly engaged couple returns, Williams said.

You might even get lucky and be surprised by the airline itself! Bryan recalls a time when, upon landing at their destination, a couple was greeted at the arrival gate by cheering crew members holding a cake, all coordinated by JetBlue staff. To top it off, JetBlue offered the happy couple a honeymoon trip on JetBlue — talk about proposal perks!

Featured image by Sweet Ice Cream Photography/Unsplash

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