'Social Seating' on Flights Doesn't Fly with Most Americans
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
May 02 2012 04:03 PM ET
Choose your seat based on passenger Facebook and Linkedin profiles in KLM's new voluntary social seating service.
Imagine buckling up in your seat on a flight and finding out you have so much in common with your seatmate. He's in tech, you're in tech. He likes Kimbra and so do you — you both plan to catch her when she tours with Gotye and Foster the People this year. Coincidence? No, it's social media at work.
The idea of assigning seats based on social profiles was raised in TripAdvisor's annual air travel survey. The question stemmed from the programs that KLM and Malaysia Airlines introduced earlier this year, a TripAdvisor spokesperson told TechNewsDaily.
KLM launched its "Meet & Seat" program in January. Passengers can upload information from their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and choose whom to sit next to based on what others have shared in their profiles — a little like match.com in the air.
Malaysia Airlines' program is similar but works only among travelers who are already Facebook friends. While that may address some privacy concerns raised by KLM's program, it's almost a why-bother — surely your Facebook friends would know about your big trip?
It seems that Americans are not quite ready for "social seating" — only 9 percent of people who took the survey said they would be willing to try out such a program. Most prefer to be left alone, and 40 percent said they'd pay extra to be seated in a "quiet zone" where they can avoid chatting with anyone.
But for the socially intrepid, KLM is testing the service on flights between New York and Amsterdam, and between San Francisco and São Paulo. The airline plans to extend the offering to all of its intercontinental flights later this spring. If successful, KLM said it will share the program with its alliance partners such as Delta , AirFrance and AeroMexico who may adopt "Meet & Seat." The skies could get a lot friendlier — “like” it or not.