Airlines Experiment with Social Seating
If you can use a social network to find a life partner, why not a flight partner?
A new article in the New York Times talks about how some airlines are using social media to help frequent fliers find more compatible seatmates.
KLM’s Meet and Seat program uses Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to help match up fliers on the same flights. The application allows you to choose which bits of information you want to share. It then displays the profiles of the other passengers and their seat assignments. Pick your preferred mate, then wait and see if he accepts you.
For some people, Meet and Seat is a way of finding new and exciting people to chat with during a long flight. For others, it’s more about assuring themselves that they won’t end up with an annoying seatmate who wants to pick your brain.
Either way, I hope you don’t end up with either of these guys.
They look kind of smarmy, don’t they? “Hi, want to be my ‘seatmate’?”
Airplanes are close quarters and your options, once on board, are limited. So having a chance to pre-meet the guy you’re going to sit next to for 13 hours is a great idea. But the reporter at the New York Times still managed to find someone who had something negative to say.
Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan, the founder of a Web site for parents traveling with young children, said she found the trend “puzzling.”
“My goal is to get through the flight without losing my mind — or either of my children,” said Ms. Bhojwani-Dhawan, 32, who recently traveled from San Francisco to India and Dubai with her 3-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter. “I can’t imagine being very good company, nor am I particularly interested in sitting next to another mom with kids so that we can compare notes.”
I find Ms. Bhojwani-Dhawan puzzling. Someone traveling with two children should be even more invested in knowing who will be sharing their row. As a mom, there’s nothing worse than getting stuck next to a well-dressed business man who cringes every time the toddler bumps his arm.
Social media seating is an excellent way to use information that’s already posted to a public site. Let’s take it another step, using the concept to find a lunch partner or someone to sit with at the movies. Use it to find a conference buddy or a roommate or a tour companion in a new city.
The tools are there. The data is there. We just have to figure out the most beneficial and creative ways to use it.
If you were booking a flight with a Meet and Seat option, would you pick someone in the same field so you have something in common or someone totally different so you can learn something new?