We all can point to romantic moments in pop culture that take place on airplanes. Harry and Sally’s in-flight flirting in When Harry Met Sally. Mindy and Danny’s first kiss on The Mindy Project. The climactic marriage proposal at the end of Crazy Rich Asians.
So maybe romantic inclination inspired Delta Airlines and Diet Coke to produce these in-flight napkins that encouraged: “Be a little old school. Write down your number and give it to your plane crush. You never know...” Another read, says Insider, “Because you’re on a plane full of interesting people and hey… you never know.”
Instead of inspiring people to join the Mile-High Club, though, the napkins had the opposite effect: skeeving everybody out. Passengers commented, “These napkins are creepy AF,” and “Pretty sure no one appreciated unsolicited phone numbers in the ‘good old days’ and they sure as heck don’t want the number of someone who has been gawking at them on a plane for hours today.” Plus, once you received that napkin with a stranger’s phone number on it, you would then be trapped in a tin can with that person until the flight ends, whether or not you are interested in their attention. Maybe you’re already attached. Maybe that person is not of your preferred gender. Maybe you would rather use this flight time preparing for that big presentation, not deflecting attention from strangers.
Some folks on Twitter though, thought the napkins were “cute,” and applauded the effort to get people to take off their in-flight headphones and actually talk to each other.
Still, we suspect that in-air flirting is one of those things that mostly exists in pop culture, not so much in real life. Like Bigfoot. Even the woman whose in-air flirting story was chronicled on Twitter this summer pointed out (via a lawyer) that “#PlaneBae is not a romance—it is a digital-age cautionary tale about privacy, identity, ethics and consent.” Even the Loch Ness Monster shows up every once in a while, but we’re not counting on her, y’know?
At least both companies realized that they overstepped here. A Delta spokesperson told Insider, “We rotate Coke products regularly as part of our brand partnership, but missed the mark with this one,” and announced that the company is removing the napkins from aircrafts. A Coca-Cola spokesperson added: “We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended. We worked with our partners at Delta to begin removing the napkins last month and are replacing them with other designs” that hopefully won’t have any suggestions regarding in-flight romantic activities.