Seatmates to soulmates: How one couple’s Alaska flight led to a proposal and swirl through the world

R335istance Photography/Tyler Petit Photography

While deep into her episode of Jane the Virgin, Krystina Burton was waiting to board her Alaska Airlines flight from JFK to LAX, when a stranger sat close enough to her she could read the seat on his ticket.  

The couple’s first selfie 💙

“I could see his ticket and that he’s going to be sitting next to me, and I remember thinking, ‘Really, this guy? He has no spatial awareness, and this is who I’m going to sit next to? Great,’” she said.  

Gabriel Solberg—the “the guy with no spatial awareness”—remembers it much differently.  

“Her story is not accurate,” he smiles via Zoom from his home in Germany. “I was tired. I remember wanting to get on the plane, there was nowhere to sit at the gate, so I just sat there for a moment and thought I was going to stand up soon. I didn’t notice her. ” 

But he says he does remember Burton walking down the aisle toward her seat, fumbling with her headphones and cracking a smile at him as they made eye contact. 

“She has a very charming smile. That’s the first time I really noticed her,” he said. “And then we just connected.” 

The conversation between Solberg and Burton was so natural that the pair didn’t even notice there was a slight delay before takeoff. In fact, it was the highlight of the trip that ultimately changed their lives forever. 

“I don’t even remember why we were stuck on the tarmac, we were just talking the whole time,” Burton said. “It was good that we were on the tarmac because we exchanged numbers and we texted immediately.” 

In no time, the plane took off for their destination and so did their conversation. The professional dancer and tech worker watched three movies together and found themselves opening up about almost everything: past relationships, likes and dislikes, their travels and music. Burton likened it to a first date. 

By the time they landed, they’d made plans to reconnect. Solberg made good on his word and returned to Los Angeles to see Burton the next week. The rest is history.  

Alaska Airlines reminds me of how we met. It was also the airline I took back to LA, the airline that she came back to New York with me on,” Solberg said. “Our entire two-week experience was with Alaska Airlines.” 

Fast forward nearly four years after that first connection on our flight— and the couple is now planning to say “I do!”

Solberg popped the question in 2019 during a vacation in Italy. 

The pair travel the world together, and have a popular Instagram @swirlthroughtheworld where they post about their exciting nomadic lifestyle; including trips to Greece, Germany (where Burton is currently dancing for a production of Aladdin), Paris, Italy, France and St. Lucia. 

Next year, they plan to return to the United States, where they say Alaska Airlines will once again be a part of their love story. They want to continue exploring the country.  

I love Alaska Airlines, it’s the best airline for national travel in the U.S., hands down,” said Solberg. 

Photos courtesy of Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg.