A new way to meet at 25,000 feet
By Matthew Boyle

(FORTUNE Magazine) – FREQUENT FLIERS OF THE world, unite! Or at least get to know each other, says Peter Shankman, a publicist/entrepreneur who flies more than 150,000 miles a year. Shankman says he's tired of "sitting next to people who sleep and drool on my shirt. Being that close to someone you don't know for that length of time isn't normal."

His solution? Airtroductions.com, a mile-high dating-and-networking site billed as "Expedia meets Friendster." After registering (free) on the site and submitting a photo and personal profile--just as on a dating site, you're queried about everything from eye color to income to your favorite tipple--you can then enter your next flight itinerary. If someone in the network is also on that flight, you're alerted via e-mail, and you can scan his or her profile. If you like what you see and choose to contact someone, it will cost you five bucks. (There is also a $19.95 monthly all-you-can-meet option.) "You have to sit on a plane next to someone," Shankman says. "Why wouldn't you pay to try to make it worth your while, either personally or professionally?"

The site, still in beta, has signed up about 700 people so far, but fewer than half of those have actually used the service. Shankman says he hopes to have 10,000 registered by the end of the year, with an eye toward eventually selling the business to Expedia or an airline. That may be a way off. An Expedia spokeswoman said she had never heard of the site, and similar services that have been launched in recent years, like singleseats.com and flightclub.org, have struggled to, ahem, take off. Michele Bateman, 30, a consultant who flies weekly for work, says that she might try Airtroductions "on a lark" but is usually too tired to chat anyone up on a flight. Like its online-dating predecessors, Airtroductions will also have to overcome some preconceived notions about its clientele. Sniffed one blogger about the new service: "Maybe they should just call it NeedyExtrovert.com." -- Matthew Boyle