KLM offers way to avoid awkward in-flight chats

February 23, 2012

It’s happened to most solo flyers: You’re buckled in, ready with a book or some work, and then your neighbor decides to strike up a completely unappealing conversation with (or at) you.

And from wheels up to wheels down, unless you’re okay with being rude, you’re stuck.

Now KLM is trying social media interaction in a different way, and offering those traveling alone the option of choosing a seatmate based on their social networking profiles with a program called “Meet and Seat.”

The option, according to KLM’s Web site, is only available for flights between Amsterdam and New York, San Francisco and Sao Paulo. Passengers can look at the profile information of users who have chosen to share their details from Facebook or LinkedIn anywhere from 90 days to 48 hours before their flight and select a seat next to someone with similar interests.

As detailed in the New York Times, KLM has said that while users can’t “reject” someone who chooses to sit next to them, they are free to select another seat. The airline said in the report that it’s not promoting the program heavily yet and that about 200 passengers have participated so far.

KLM isn’t alone in proposing a program like this, the Times noted. Malaysia Airlines has an application that allows friends to see whether they’ll be on the same flight or headed to the same destination at the same time. A start-up called Planely also lets users connect using their LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, for “business, rideshare or great fun.”

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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