Romance in the air… this is how two strangers fell in love on a plane

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — The first time Christina Burton met Gabriel Solberg, she alienated him.

Burton, a 30-year-old dancer at the time, lived and worked in Los Angeles, waiting at JFK to get home from an audition in New York.

It was early in the morning and the airport terminal was empty. There was a long row of benches in front of her, but a man had put her bag on the ground in front of him and sat right next to her, which annoyed her.

This was Solberg, who was 34 years old at the time and was returning from visiting his family in Europe.

Tired of making stops at the airport at night, he paid little attention to his surroundings.

“This guy has no spatial awareness,” recalls Burton.

Christina Burton and Gabriel Solberg first met in the airport terminal, a moment they recreated in this post photo., plain textCredit: R335istance Photography/Tyler Petit Photography

The two strangers were sitting so close together that Burton could see the seat number printed on Solberg’s ticket when she realized he was also sitting next to her on the plane, which only made her uncomfortable.

I was in no mood to sit for 6 hours next to someone who had no sense of personal space.

It was July 2018, and given the time when Solberg manages to fend for himself, he remembers the events a little differently.

“That’s from their perspective,” Solberg told CNN with a smile. “When I walked into that building, it was so packed with people that I barely got an empty seat and sat there for five minutes.”

Burton reports that Solberg sat up briefly because he jumped out of his seat the moment he announced his boarding, confirming his suspicions about his arrogant nature.

When Burton finally boarded her Alaska Airlines flight and saw that Solberg had already settled into his seat next to her, she quickly tried to put on her headset to avoid any conversation, but it wasn’t fast enough and he started talking to her right away. .

In fact, Solberg didn’t notice Burton in the passenger lounge, but he did notice her as soon as he boarded the plane and approached his row of seats, noting that her smile startled him.

With a smile, he said, “Welcome, weren’t you sitting next to me in the aisle?” Burton responded with a smile on his face, “You’re the one sitting next to me.”

Burton’s first impression of Solberg as arrogant and selfish quickly faded, and the two began to chat.

romance on the plane

Romance in the air... how did two strangers fall in love on a plane?
Burton didn’t have the best first impression of Solberg, but quickly changed his mind as soon as they started talking, plain textCredit: R335istance Photography/Tyler Petit Photography

The captain announced over a loudspeaker that the plane was late and probably wouldn’t leave the airport for another two hours. Burton and Solberg were sitting in two aisle seats, while the passenger by the window fell asleep almost immediately, leaving them alone.

As they waited for the plane to take off, Solberg and Burton moved from the acquaintance stage to the larger issues.

“We talked about everything,” recalls Solberg.

From their jobs, where they live, to why they travel to Los Angeles.

And the duo discovered that a love of travel brings them together. Solberg is of French and American descent, having grown up in Germany, so she has spent her life traveling, while Burton’s work as a dancer has taken her all over the world, from performances on cruise ships to tours of the United States.

When the flight finally took off, the duo felt as if they had known each other for years.

Despite watching movies on board, they chatted and laughed throughout the flight.

“I told him how terrible his movie choices are,” says Solberg.

“We were trying to watch Planet of the Apes, which I thought was a good movie, but he said it was the dumbest movie he’d ever seen,” recalls Burton.

I was fascinated by Solberg’s frankness and humor, and he was clearly a good person.

Romance in the air... how did two strangers fall in love on a plane?
This is one of the first photos of the duo together on the trip back to California., plain textCredit: Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg (Swirl Around the World)

The six-hour trip also allowed them to have more serious conversations, as they touched on spiritual issues, religion, and their outlook on life.

Solberg explained that at the beginning of the flight it was clear they were strangers, then the passenger in the window seat slept through the entire flight and woke up to find them drowning in conversation.

However, they distrusted for different reasons.

Sloelberg ended a long relationship about 5 months ago, spent the summer visiting loved ones in Europe, and when she met Burton she was on her way to Seattle to visit family, and says romance was not on her mind.

“My attitude towards relationships was that they don’t suit me,” he recalls.

Likewise, Burton says that she wasn’t looking for a relationship either.

“I’ve never dated anyone before, I’ve been living my life as a single woman with a good friend of mine in Los Angeles,” she says.

The eight-hour “date” on a plane was a surprise for both of them, though it wasn’t an instant crush. They felt that their communication was natural and easy.
“In a way it made sense,” Solberg said.

As the flight landed and the passengers disembarked at the Los Angeles airport, Solberg and Burton prepared to continue on their way.

“I told him, ‘You know something’s going on here,'” Solberg recalls. “So I’ll come back in a week and we’ll watch it together.”

“Personally, I didn’t think that would happen,” Burton explained. “I knew there was some kind of connection between us because I felt it,” he said. Before following her path, Solberg hugged her and though Burton thought she would never see him again, he texted her sister and her friends to tell them what had happened.

“I knew she was coming back,” Solberg says, texting her brother, “I met the girl of my dreams.”

A week passed and Solberg returned to Los Angeles and invited Burton to plan the meeting. This contact lasted between two and three hours.

Romance in the air... how did two strangers fall in love on a plane?
The duo share a love of travel and adventure, plain_textCredit: Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg (Swirl Around the World)

Solberg remembers how awkward it was, as she had just gotten off the phone with someone she still classified as a stranger, as if she had known her for years.

“It’s very strange, like we’ve known each other for a long time,” he recalls.

Burton suggested going out for dinner and a movie, and Solberg said it was a long way to see her and they should do something more interesting, and suggested renting a cabin in the mountains of Santa Monica, California.

Burton was excited to see Solberg again, but her friends and family were genuinely worried about her traveling to an out-of-the-way place with a man she had just met.

Although the property was more rustic than Solberg expected, the two had a great time there.

On the day Solberg was supposed to fly to New York, the two went out to lunch and discussed the course of their relationship, and it was hard for them to part again.

“We were frustrated,” recalls Solberg. The two decided that instead of saying goodbye, she would accompany Burton Solberg to New York to continue the adventure there.

As for Solberg, she admits that while she says her relationship with Burton was unofficial, her actions “didn’t really reflect those words.”

Romance in the air... how did two strangers fall in love on a plane?
The couple announced their engagement while vacationing in Italy in 2019., plain textCredit: Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg (Swirl Around the World)

However, Burton made it clear that her career as a dancer came first. When her agent called her about an exciting audition opportunity, she canceled the trip to New York and flew to Los Angeles early.

Burton and Solberg discuss how her career has given her the flexibility to live anywhere. In the end, the two only spent two months traveling back and forth to see each other before Burton decided to move with Solberg to New York.

In October 2019, about a year after meeting on the plane, Burton and Solberg announced their engagement while vacationing on the Italian coast.

Solberg almost forgot to take the ring with him and Burton’s mother had to wait for him at the airport to deliver it to him without Burton knowing.

When the two decided to book an engagement photo shoot with photographer Tyler Petty, the location was obvious, the airport, specifically Terminal A at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, DC, a transportation hub with a huge terminal. landmark designed as the perfect backdrop.

Romance in the air... how did two strangers fall in love on a plane?
Burton and Solberg stop for photos at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, plain textCredit: R335istance Photography/Tyler Petit Photography

Their sweet encounter was also reflected in the wedding invitations, which were designed to resemble plane tickets. Burton and Solberg planned a magical wedding in St. Lucia.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has put plans on hold, but in recent months, the two have started planning their wedding again. Preparations are further complicated by the fact that Burton is currently working in Germany.

The duo admit long distances aren’t easy, but they both enjoy watching their careers unfold. They agree on their long-term goals and ambitions.

Romance in the air... how did two strangers fall in love on a plane?
Burton and Solberg, pictured here in Greece, look forward to future adventures together., plain textCredit: Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg (Swirl Around the World)

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