KLM Airlines lets passengers use Facebook, LinkedIn to pick seatmate

by Nickalas Tabbert

 KLM Airlines recently launched a program that allows passengers to choose their seatmate based on Facebook or LinkedIn pictures.

The program, called "Meet and Seat," is available on flights between Amsterdam and New York and San Francisco and Sao Paolo, an MSN.com article said Friday.

Although you cannot "reject" someone who has chosen you, you can pick another seat up to two days before the flight, the New York Times said.

When passengers make reservations with the airline, they can also choose to make their Facebook profile visible to other passengers.  The concept is a step beyond efforts a few years ago by airlines to build "walled" social networks out of their existing frequent flier memberships.

"For at least 10 years, there has been this question about serendipity and whether you could improve the chances of meeting someone interesting onboard," said Erik Varwijk, a managing director in charge of passenger business at KLM.  "But the technology just wasn't available."

The Times said that airlines are quickly becoming sophisticated users of online networks as a low-cost way to learn more about their customers and their preferences.  KLM and others are betting that many of the nearly 500 million daily active users of Facebook would be willing to share their profiles for a chance to meet someone with a common interest of who might be traveling to the same event.

KLM's service is available only to travelers with confirmed reservations who are willing to connect their social profiles to their booking.  After selecting the amount of personal information they wish to share, passengers are shown a map that shows where others who have shared their profiles are seated.

Passengers can then reserve available seats next to anyone they find interesting and a message containing the passenger's profile details is sent to that passenger.

Varwijk said only about 200 passengers have participated so far, but barring any hiccups, the airline hopes to roll out the service on all its intercontinental flights by this spring.