Forget that Seinfeld episode where Jerry sits next to the sexy supermodel; you'll be lucky to get Kramer. You board your plane and find yourself seated beside an old school chum, or that new software designer you've been dying to meet, or a good-looking woman who shares your passion for kayaking.
Sounds pretty sci-fi, doesn't it? Well, the revolution is here. And whether you know it, you're already a part of it. You are, I should say, if you're a member of Facebook. Or any of the thousands of other Web sites or tools or software or apps that are part of the world of "social media. You social media networkers -- what is it you do?
Everyday, you tell the world -- via Facebook or Twitter or something else -- who you are and what you want. And the world is listening. And, even as we speak, some of those listeners are working hard to give you exactly what you want.
Certainly, that's true when it comes to airline seating arrangements. For more air travel news and insights, visit Rick's blog at: Have you heard of Satisfly?
Who Cares About Privacy?
It's a new company headed by year old Sergio Mello. The Italian-born entrepreneur is one of those folks who wants to give you what you want and thinks his new startup will fill the bill. The key to that, he thinks, is passenger compatibility, which could mean anything from hanging with folks in similar businesses, or simply getting a seatmate who likes to snooze as much as you do.
And, yes, it could also mean sitting next to someone you'd really like to get to know better.
But Mello insists most travelers are less interested in hookups than in sharing business contacts, the names of favorite restaurants -- or just a taxi, if you're both into smaller carbon footprints. Ultimately, passengers will learn about Satisfly from their social networks, and when they purchase airline tickets online, they may be asked to check a box that says, "Working Alone" or "Relax Alone" or "Business Networking" or even "Social Networking" -- depending on what they want to do during their flight. According to Mello, their "Intelligent Seating Service" will work with the airline's system to find you a like-minded seatmate.
But wait a minute -- isn't this all rather Big Brother-ish? Aren't there some things we don't want our nearest and dearest to know, let alone our airline? Apparently, merely asking that question marks one as a bystander of the social networking revolution. Otherwise, you would know that this is a revolution sans skeletons, since there are no longer any closets for them to hide in. Or, as Mello puts it, for the social networking crowd, "Privacy is simply no longer an issue.
Ah, but brand loyalty is an issue, one that Mello believes can be exploited. As his "solution" becomes integrated with an airline system, he expects the results will create a more comfortable experience for the passenger that will lead to greater loyalty to the airline that provides it. Satisfly is now working with Hawaiian Airlines, testing its seating solutions on employee passengers, and is "in discussions" with other carriers.
Mile-high matchmaking: airline to let you choose your neighbour via Facebook
Ever get stuck sitting next to someone on a plane that you wish you hadn't? Dutch airline KLM is aiming to make air travel a more social affair with a new service allowing passengers to choose who they sit next to using Facebook and LinkedIn. The "meet and seat" service would allow passengers to see the Facebook or LinkedIn profiles of other flyers, who are also using the opt-in service, when selecting their seat. It's aimed at passengers finding people with like-minded interests to sit with during long — and potentially boring — flights.
Though it is likely passengers would also use the service as an opportunity for business networking or to seek romance a survey by UK flight search company Skyscanner earlier this year found 45 per cent of passengers admitted to flirting with other passengers during flights.
Matchmaking in the Skies: Find Your Perfect Airplane Seatmate
During the speed-dating sessions on those flights, women sat in reserved seats chatting for five-minute intervals with male passengers who had to change seats when a special signal was given. And travel has become a meeting place for singles [he calls them singletons] who often travel in hopes of meeting someone special along the way. So be on the lookout, he says, for more themed flights and tourism campaigns targeted at those singletons, such as the successful Scottish Tourism Board campaign in which women from around the world were asked to vote on their favorite hunky Scot on a Web site featuring photos of men wearing kilts and authentic Scottish attire.
With that in mind Yeoman, who just happens to be a single year-old Scotsman, showed up at the post-matchmaking flight party in Auckland wearing a kilt. Mary Major, a dealer at a casino in Everett, Wash. I got what I came for: Things worked out for year-old Keisha Edwards, one of two nurses from Oregon who missed their chance to mingle on the matchmaking flight because their connecting flight was delayed.