Be a social high-flyer
Long flight? Select a seatmate online
Always end up next to the crying baby next on a plane? Or the snoring and drooling flyer whose body sags until his head rests on your shoulder? Well soon there maybe no one to blame but you.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is taking the guesswork out of seat selection by piloting a social-media application that gives passengers the power to pick whom they sit next to.
The airline's 'meet and seat' service will allow travellers to link their facebook and LinkedIn profiles to their check-in information and choose a seating partner, presumably, based on common interests, business connections and maybe even their looks in profile pictures. This reverse-serendipity social seating initiative, expected early next year, requires both passengers to opt-in to use this tool before they make an appointment according to KLM.
"Both passengers have to use this tool before they make an appointment," said Gedi Schrijver, spokeswoman for the airline.
Of course there will be an opt-out option for those who prefer not to share their personal information and put their faith in random seatmates. Schrijver did not say if there would be a charge for the social seating service. While a matchmaking service that networks travellers from around the world could be the ultimate business opportunity bonanza, for those who do join in, the flight could also end up being a long one if their seatmate just wants to make a sales pitch.
But social seating isn't an idea trending with just KLM. Malaysia Airlines' facebook service called 'MHBuddy' not only lets passengers book tickets directly from facebook, but also lets them check if they have any facebook friends taking the same flight, or travelling to the destination around the same time - the obvious difference being that they already know each other.
Also combating boredom in the skies in a less social, but more personal way, Lufthansa offers passengers a digital carry-on 'CloudStream,' which lets them 'pack' articles, music, videos, and other online content for quick access while travelling. The growing importance of inflight entertainment systems was also highlighted during the 2011 Dubai Airshow when Etihad Airways announced a $1 billion deal with Panasonic which will see passengers enjoy highspeed internet, mobile phone services and live TV in mid-air.
Gulf Air has also received its first aircraft with satellite services - laying claim to the bragging rights of, it said, being the first airline in the world to offer live TV. And while WIFI, mobile phone and mobile data services are not a new thing on Emirates Airline, the carrier has recently announced that the services will eventually be rolled out across the entire fleet, including the 71 Emirates A380s on order.