Anyone who’s ever lolled at a departure gate waiting for their flight to board has looked around and wondered: Which of these strangers will I be stuck sitting next to on the plane? Left to Murphy’s Law, it’s probably not going to be the like-minded individual with a fascinating job (who also happens to be incredibly handsome, natch). Dutch airline KLM is taking chance out of the equation with its Meet & Seat program, which allows you to select seatmates well before takeoff based upon their LinkedIn or Facebook accounts.
The initiative is, ostensibly, a prime schmoozing opportunity, and KLM is “the first airline to integrate social networking in its regular flight process,” senior press officer Ellen van Ginkel tells Co.Design. Passengers opt in to disclose their online profiles and can decide how much information is made available to others. Will knowing someone’s professional history or last status update ensure a smooth flight? Not necessarily. It’s still a gamble whether or not you’ll hit it off, and you have to pay to play, so to speak. “Passengers can only see other Meet & Seat participants after linking their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles to their flight,” van Ginkel explains. “As a carrier we offer our passengers the possibility to join the service, but it’s up to the customer if he or she wants to use it.” Since launching in early February, more than 1,100 profiles have been shared so far (though no word on resulting high-powered handshake deals or wedding bells).
So, given the choice, would you rather be responsible for the potentially awkward conversations that ensue on a long haul or simply let the sky gods make the choice for you? Some of the more interesting airborne connections can occur based upon the sheer unpredictability of the adjacent coupling, but should you choose to tempt fate, you can currently use Meet & Seat while traveling to 34 KLM destinations, and there are plans to roll out the program to all intercontinental locations in a few weeks.