Do You Want an Airplane BFF?

I’ve been flying a lot lately. Book promotion has taken me all over the country, and I love  it. I’m always fascinated by observing my seat mates. This year I’ve sat next to an adorable four-year old girl, a man flying home after visiting his son at college, a happy couple, and an old woman with bad diabetes and heavy breathing.

As I’ve written here before, I always think meeting a new BFF on a plane would be a great story. It seems doable, too. Long flight, nowhere to go, hours of opportunity to bond and exchange contact information. During my year of friending for MWF Seeking BFF, I met a great potential bestie when we were stranded on the tarmac together. She was basically at friend capacity so a BFFship didn’t ensue, but still. Could’ve happened.

Seems I’m not the only one who has contemplated this possibility. According to an article in last week’s NY Times business section, airlines are contemplating using technology and social media to orchestrate what they call “social seating.” The programs “[allow] ticket-holders to upload details from their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles and use the data to choose seat mates.”

The program featured in this article is called Meet and Seat (points for punny name!), and is in development from KLM, a Dutch airline. But there are others. MHBuddy, from Malaysia Airlines, lets you see if any of your Facebook friends are on your flight, and then change your seats to be together. A Danish company, Planely, allows you check the social media profiles of your fellow passengers on any given trip. On Hong Kong’s Satisfly (another winner of a name), you can submit a profile that includes whether or not you want to talk, chat, or be silent during your flight and give seat mate preferences.

I’m intrigued, for sure, but also skeptical. To be honest, my biggest concerns are not issues of privacy, which they probably should be. I’m worried that I’m moody. When booking a flight, I might be super excited and feeling really friendly and request to sit next to someone who wants to chat. But then, after a long day, and likely dealing with long security lines and a flight delay, I might be less eager to socialize. I could see myself wanting to sleep, or read quietly. But if I’ve specifically requested a plane buddy, or if I’ve profiled myself as talkative, I’ll feel so much pressure to perform!

If I get on a flight today, I can talk or read or sleep or watch TV. I appreciate that freedom. With this program, it feels a bit like I’d have to choose what mood I’ll be in two months later.

So, I’m on the fence. There’s definitely something cool about it. And also sort of terrifying.

Thoughts? Would you use a program like Meet and Seat or Satisfly? Sound off below! (And thanks to reader Stefanie for passing this article along!)

MWF Seeking BFF is nominated for an About.com Reader’s Choice Award! Best Nonfiction Book About Friendship. I’m so excited. Please vote for MWF Seeking BFF!

10 Comments

Filed under The Search

10 responses to “Do You Want an Airplane BFF?

  1. I agree with you. I guess that I would rather be able to change my seat when I got on the plane and knew how I’d be feeling during the flight. It’s easier to settle in (and by settle in, I mean dive in and ignore) to a book if you aren’t next to someone that you think could be a potential friend.

    • I am not sure if I am a wannabee hermit – or just a mom glad to get away – or maybe both – or maybe they are the same thing?!? Anyways, when I am on a plane, last thing I need is someone wanting to connect with me. I usually pull out my Nook before I fasten my seatbelt = don’t talk to me….all I want to do it be alone and read.

  2. On average, I fly about five round trips per month. I’d say I chat with my seatmate about half of the time. The only thing about talking on a plane, other than the fact that you’re already smashed together (unless you’re lucky enough to get bumped to first class) is that it’s really awkward to turn to speak to someone and look them in the eyes. I end up getting a strain in my neck after a few hours. I will say that one of the best experiences I’ve had was sitting with two salesmen from Boston right before the Super Bowl. We got along so famously well that we ended up eating at the same restaurant during our layover. I’d never made such good airport friends!

  3. Maybe I don’t travel enough. But I’m so paranoid about being stuck in a boring conversation that the idea of the expectation that I would talk on an airplane gives me the anxiety. Also, I love airplane reading. And if I’m having my own conversation, how will I eavesdrop on other people?

  4. Oh the horror.
    That loser school friend you’re only fb-friends with because you assume you will never have to see them again bounding up the aisle to join you for a 12 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur!
    And, like Lyzlenz, long haul flights are the biggest reading opportunities in my life- I would hate to lose that!
    I think they haven’t really thought this one through!
    Funny post :)

  5. Kristen A.

    The only one of those options I can ever see myself using in advance is the one on Satisfy if I chose the “silent” option. Feeling chatty but settling for reading in an area of quiet people is much lower pressure than feeling like reading or sleeping but having previously said that I’d like to talk.

    Plus, what if you’ve said you’d like to talk, but you wind up in a boring conversation? The implied “It’s not me, it’s you” is a lot stronger when you decide you’d rather read after you’ve talked to somebody for a while if they know you were theoretically interested in conversation. If they have no idea of your preference, they can assume that it’s just that you really wanted to read and your socks were not necessarily being bored off.

  6. Stacy

    That sounds way too risky. For the reasons you listed above like having to know your mood a few months out but also, just because two people are a good match on paper does not mean they’d be a good chatting buddy during travel. I’d rather take my chances than have that built in expectation.

  7. ‘Uh…yah, I’d like to sit next to someone without suicidal tendencies.’

    Sorry….couldn’t help myself. It’s an awesome idea but how does it work if they choose me but I don’t choose them. Do they get rejected? It’s kind of like 5 minute dating but you could be stuck with them for 8 hours.

  8. Amy

    I like the idea of randomness. You just never know who you will meet! I also believe God brings people together, even if it’s only for a flight! Not always of course, but it happens. I once met a potential good friend when I was newly dating my husband we flew all the way to Germany to attend his brother’s wedding. We got stuck in another city for H O U R S and I and this other girl were friendly. I always regretted that we never exchanged contact info.

  9. Reblogged this on nimkateman Blog and commented:
    Thankful of beautiful Trahhay

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