Ever wished you could choose your seatmate on a long overseas flight? Hate getting stuck next to the screaming baby or the burly seat hog? Dutch airline KLM is introducing a new program that will allow travelers to choose who they sit next to according to social media profiles.
The idea is simple. Link your social media profile to your check-in information and choose a seating partner presumably by assessing similar likes and dislikes.
KLM spokesperson Mina Jarvis confirmed to the International Business Times that its social seating tool, called Meet & Seat, will launch at the beginning of next year. However, she could only provide limited information about the program because it is still in the development phase.
The matchmaking service will be available to all passengers, but those who would prefer to keep their headphones on and their laptops out can choose not to make their profile publically available.
The idea is that passengers will be able to pick people with the same interests for a seatmate, but access to the Web sites will also allow them to buddy up based on professions or even looks.
For those that are interested, the move could make for an interesting social experiment. Say a business traveler wants to sit next to another business traveler to be near a likeminded flier, but the seat assignment turns into an unwanted sales pitch.
Or, say a lone college boy chooses to sit next to a lone college girl and the in-flight date goes terribly wrong.
According to a poll of 1,000 travelers earlier this year by a flight comparison Web site, 45 percent of passengers admitted to flirting during a flight. A third of respondents said that the encounter on board led to a rendezvous on land, with 8 percent reporting that it led to a relationship.
Is adding social media into seating assignments a good idea or a recipe for a one-flight stand? Either way, it remains to be seen how many people take the plunge and try it out.
KLM is well-known for its provocative social media campaigns, but it's not the first to harness social media.
Malaysia Airlines is also releasing a similar service on Facebook that will allow passengers to see which friends are visiting a destination or taking the same flight at the same time.
Virgin Atlantic has also expressed interest in the idea.
Another company, AirTroductions, made headlines in 2006 when it offered an online dating service for frequent fliers, offering them a chance to meet other travelers. The brief foray into mile-high dating never quite took off.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...