Sometimes you have to miss a connection to make a connection—and if that’s not a wise old adage yet, it should be. For two waylaid airline passengers stuck in wintry weather at a Toronto airport in 2003, their canceled flights turned into a layover of love at first sight.
Little did Jennifer Lowther, then 29, realize she was about to meet her “knight in shining armor.” All she knew that morning as she hunkered down in tears was that she was about to miss her best friend’s wedding.
The nuptials, at which Jennifer was supposed to serve as master of ceremonies, was set to take place in her hometown of Winnipeg the following day—but with the snow closing in and no flights going out, it looked as if the cause was lost.
Enter 34-year-old Chris Powell, a veteran business traveler for whom scheduling snafus were just part of the game. Waiting out the delay in the airport lounge, Chris noticed Jennifer’s distress.
Winning her over with his dry wit, Jennifer was soon sitting with a group of other stranded souls sharing their stories, venting their frustrations, and imbibing an adult beverage or two as the day passed.
Although romance was the last thing on his mind, Chris felt an instant rapport with the woman he’d found crying into her breakfast—and Jennifer felt it as well.
The waiting vigil became an impromptu party, with Chris and Jennifer serving as the de facto host and hostess. Sharing banter and making jokes helped everyone pass the time. Even though they’d just met, others who later joined the group assumed they were a couple.
Meanwhile, the two travelers who’d just met were beginning to feel like they’d known one another forever.
So, when 4 o’clock rolled around and the last flight to Winnipeg was canceled, unable to bear Jennifer’s devastation, Chris was determined to move heaven and earth to make sure his newfound soulmate would be there when her best friend tied the knot.
There weren’t any flights to her destination, so what were the alternatives?
Chris was booked on a 9 p.m. flight to Vancouver. If Jennifer went there as well—even though it was out of her way by two hours—would she be able to backtrack to Winnipeg in time to make the wedding? With a stopover the following morning in Edmonton, it would be cutting it close, but if all went according to plan, it was doable.
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At 9 o’clock that night, the pair boarded the Vancouver-bound plane. They even managed to get seats together. From there, the romance really took off—with a kiss “right out of the movies.”
“We actually kissed the whole way to Vancouver, just sort of like enamored with each other,” Jennifer told CNN Travel.
Once in Vancouver, the exhausted travelers crashed with one of Chris’s friends. After a few short hours of sleep, Jennifer had to be on her way again—but not before she and Chris swapped their contact info and made plans to meet up when they were both back in Toronto.
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With a 1 p.m. touchdown in Winnipeg, Jennifer had a scant hour to make it to the church on time, but fellow passengers on the flight who’d been regaled with her herculean exploits thus far cleared the aisles for her and cheered her on as she sped off the plane.
Dashing to her parents’ car, with barely enough time to make herself presentable, her dad somehow managed to drop her off just at the stroke of two. Both Jennifer and the bride, who feared her best friend was about to miss her big day, were overcome with emotion.
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While her ex-boyfriend was at the ceremony and she’d toyed with the idea of making another go of it, Jennifer says she realized while she’d only just met him, that her destiny and her future belonged not with someone from her past, but with Chris.
Three months later, they were engaged. They married in 2004.
This storybook tale has an especially poignant twist since Jennifer, who’d been treated for cervical cancer at age 19, was told she’d never be able to conceive. And, just as he’d never really thought about getting married before he met Jennifer, Chris hadn’t really planned on being a dad, either.
When the couple learned she was pregnant with their first child, it came as a surprise to both of them—but a happy one.
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The birth of their son Spencer was followed by that of his sister Lauren a few years later. The children, now in their teens, share a special bond with their parents forged in part during a nine-month round-the-world trip the family embarked on five years ago that took them to such far-off sites as Sri Lanka and Argentina.
While Chris and Jennifer might have met under circumstances straight out of a Hallmark made for TV movie, after 18 years, it looks as if they’ve still got a firm foothold on their happily ever after. Although both have changed and matured through the years, they say humor and being willing to go the extra mile for one another are still the defining factors of their marriage.
And no matter what force brought them together for their airport “meet-cute” that day, they’re both grateful.
“It was—I don’t know, cosmic alignment, call it what you will; call it kismet—but it was amazing,” Chris told CNN. “I’m lucky it happened to me. Thanks, fate! So far, so good.”
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