The Real-Life Airplane Story That Sparked Love At First Sight’s Jennifer E. Smith To Write The Rom-Com

 Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy in Love at First Sight
Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy in Love at First Sight

They say that inspiration can come from anywhere, and the story behind Love At First Sight is a great example of it. The new Netflix rom-com follows a young woman named Hadley, played by The White LotusHaley Lu Richardson. In the story, she misses her flight from New York to London for her father’s wedding but shortly after, makes an instant connection with someone. That person turns out to be a British guy her age named Oliver (Ben Hardy), who she quickly bonds with on her last-minute makeup flight. The movie is based on a 2011 novel from Jennifer E. Smith, who spoke to CinemaBlend about a real-life airplane story that inspired the tale.

The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight is the third of Jennifer E. Smith’s twelve books, many of which have been bestsellers over the years. Ahead of Love At First Sight becoming available to stream with a Netflix subscription, she told us about how she got started on the concept for this story about two strangers on a flight who fall for each other. And believe it or not, she drew inspiration from a personal experience she had while on a flight:

This is not a romantic story, but the idea for the book first started because I once flew from Chicago to Dublin on an overnight flight. And, the person sitting next to me was reading a book that I had just finished reading. We started talking, and we chatted for most of the flight. When we landed, he was Irish and I obviously am not. So we got separated in the lines for customs, and I think I thought we would've a chance to say goodbye, and on the other side, he wasn't there. And, I don't know if he was still in line or if he had already left and I had to go. And, it's very similar to in the film, and it struck me afterwards how strange it is that you can spend a significant chunk of your life seven hours chatting with somebody and possibly never see them again. That was really the spark of the book.

So, interestingly enough, the idea for Love At First Sight did not come from an actual sweeping romance but the experience of sharing a flight with an unexpected stranger. Since it's been over a decade since the book itself was released, Jennifer E. Smith also told us about how her perspective on the story itself has changed over the years. As she said:

I think one of the things that has made the book kind of popular over the years is that it does have a very timeless feel to it. It's not that techy other than the broken phone, it's not dependent on current events. It's a situation that lots of people find themselves in every day, which is being on an airplane for a long period of time. And I guess I would say that, you know, in a world where we often avoid connection in these situations and sometimes really rightfully so, you don't always want somebody talking your ear off. But, I think we spend a lot of time now with earbuds in and looking at our phones and with masks on sometimes, and there's something to be said for looking up and having these kind of human connections.

Also From The Interview With Jennifer E. Smith

Ben Hardy in Love at First Sight
Ben Hardy in Love at First Sight

The Major Change To Love At First Sight That Made The Author ‘Cry The Most’... And I Totally Agree It Improved The Story

The writer was happy to report that she feels as though the story has remained relevant over the years because of its “timeless” nature. While a lot has certainly changed between 2011 and 2023, the experience of going on a flight and meeting someone amid the hustle and bustle still happens. Such an encounter can result in a few words shared as one gets off the plane or even a genuine blooming romance like what the Love At First Sight cast depict in the movie. Regardless though, travel can ultimately be a vessel for communication and expansion if one decides to look up from their phone.

And, the sweet concept makes this one of the most memorable Netflix romances in some time. Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy have great chemistry, and the story is really grounded by each of their family stories, with Hadley heading off to her father’s remarriage and Oliver attending the funeral of a parent. It’s not often that a rom-come turns out to be a home run like this one, so be sure to stream Love At First Sight now. When you're done, also read up on upcoming book-to-movie adaptations -- some of which are on the schedule of 2023 new movie releases.