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!