Will someone please explain to me this curious male fascination with having a good-looking woman sit next to you on a flight? So many men I know, perfectly normal guys in every other way, get stupidly happy about the fact that their travel companion was young, female and attractive. They'll even gloat about it afterwards. The whole thing is practically an urban legend. (There are also, of course, the people who tell you that so and so airline is great because their hostesses are so much better looking - another piece of reasoning I've never understood).
It don't get this. For starters, it's not as though she's choosing to sit with you . There isn't a separate check-in counter for the seat next to yours (Economy Class, Business Class, Falstaff Class) with a mob of women fighting to be first in line. It just happened that the next middle seat available was in your row. And even if it's free seating, she's probably choosing that particular seat because there's space in the overhead bin or because someone in front of her just took the last aisle.
And even if she did choose based on the way you look, what are the odds that she was thinking "Oh wow! what an incredible hunk of man-meat! Let me sit next to him and bathe in the aura of his magnetic sexual presence"? Isn't it more likely that she thought you looked too old / emasculated / gay to be much of a threat?
Plus it's not like you're in a relationship or something. Say she passes you your lunch tray. Say you exchange a few smiles. Say at some point you say "Excuse me" and pass her on your way to the restroom (there's an association of ideas you want!). Say you get lucky and she needs to be taught how to buckle her seat-belt. Say you decide to live dangerously and offer her your newspaper after you're done with it. It's not exactly Antony and Cleopatra, is it? I mean, compared to this, watching your clothes tumble in the dryer next to hers would be wildly carnal. And what are the odds that she's going to get off at the first stop-over and leave behind a little note with the words "We'll always have Seat 14 A and 14 B"?
In theory, of course, you could use this opportunity to start a conversation, dazzle her with your suave charm and secure both her phone number and the promise of a first date before the seatbelt sign went off. There are, I'm sure, people who can do this. But let's face it - if you're sitting there dreaming about the vagaries of a boarding card algorithm playing cupid for you, you're not one of those guys. Chances are, you couldn't talk your way into a woman's affections over a candlelight dinner with the mariachi singing softly in the background, so the combination of crummy airline food, turbulence and uncle-ji snoring on the other side of her is certainly not going to work.
But let's be optimistic. Let's say you get really lucky and your plane goes down over the Atlantic. You rise to the occasion. You help her with her oxygen mask. You comfort her. You get that floating feeling inside you and you convince yourself it's love, not depressurisation. Before you know it you're sliding down the escape ramp together and she's clinging to you in the lifeboat while the sharks gather and the waves seethe. It's like something out of a Tallulah Bankhead film. Only trouble is, there are two dozen frustrated men like you on this lifeboat, and chances are you're the only one with a good looking woman on his arm, so when the time comes to decide who gets eaten first, guess who they're going to pick.
It hardly seems worth it, does it? Personally, I'd rather get a scruffy twenty-something sitting next to me. He's less likely to have too much cabin baggage, less likely to be finicky or complain, and if I end up having to argue with him over something I have the comfort of knowing that everyone in the plane will be on my side.
 Though I have to say it would be convenient if airlines would let you select a seat based on the profiles of people next to you. That way, I could safely avoid all women of child-bearing age.