Maybe you like the odds of being seated next to a random cutie or someone who won’t bother you on a long flight, but if you’d like to stack your bet a little, at least one airline gives passengers a chance to pick their seatmate on international flights.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has a free service called “Meet and Seat,” which allows passengers to upload details from their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles to choose seatmates. The option is available for international flights that arrive and depart from U.S. cities.
But don’t expect the service to show up on domestic flights or even be provided by other airlines anytime soon. Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group, says KLM’s program is “clever,” but the amount of information that can be shared in such programs could pose a variety of problems for travelers.
“If you’re traveling on business, why would you want to broadcast where you’re going or who you’re meeting with?” he asks. “If it’s not business, what happens if the person you choose to sit with isn’t interesting? You can’t run away on an airplane.”
Harteveldt says KLM’s program ultimately is a small tool to help the airline to distinguish itself, but if such programs take off, multiple privacy protections would have to be established to keep passengers from continuing to communicate with others who would prefer not to talk any further. Putting in such barriers on all flights would make it too costly for airlines.