KLM’s ‘Meet & Seat’ social seating lets passengers pick an interesting seat mate

I found this article on a website that shows latest trends in the aviation industry. It’s about KLM using Social Media to make a flight more interesting for travelers. Meet and Seat is about picking a seat next to someone you might find interesting to talk to because you share common interests. KLM even suggests you can decide to share a cab after the flight because you have met your seatmate before the flight. I think it’s a bit fetched but some aspects might be very handy. What do you think, is it a good thing KLM uses Social Media for a more pleasant flight for it’s customers?

KLM’s ‘Meet & Seat’ social seating lets passengers pick an interesting seat mate

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7 February 2012 | KLM today has launched a ‘Meet & Seat’ scheme which encourages passengers to pick seatmates by checking out social media profiles of fellow passengers who link to their profiles during check-in. The idea is that flyers will be able to find out about interesting people who will be on board their KLM flight, for example other passengers attending the same event at the destination. The ‘social seating’ feature has been launched on flights between Amsterdam and San Francisco, Sao Paolo and New York City with plans to extend it to other intercontinental destinations shortly.

Although the idea of the ‘social flight’ in itself is not entirely new – it was coined by digital media guru Jeff Jarvis a few years ago, while airlines such as Malaysia Airlines and Estonian Air have experimented with the concept – KLM’s new ‘Meet & Seat’ tool takes the idea of ‘social seating’ a step further, as until now social media users could only connect with their friends before a flight, while KLM allows anyone to connect with anyone.

KLM says it is trying to give travellers a more “inspirational journey” with the service enabling them to see who is on the flight, perhaps meet for a coffee beforehand, select seats next to each other or share a taxi at the other end. The tool will be opt-in only, to allow the many travellers who view flight time as private time.

How it works
Passengers who have booked a KLM flight from Amsterdam to New York, San Francisco or Sao Paulo (or back), can go to KLM.com and log in to the ‘Manage my Booking’ section. They then go to the ‘Seating’ tab, click ‘Meet & Seat’ and connect their social profiles with their booking by logging in to their Facebook or LinkedIn account.

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After selecting the profile details they want to share with other passengers and adding their travel details and languages spoken, the seat map shows other passengers who have also shared their profile details, and which seat they have chosen. Passengers then can select their seat, for example next to someone with similar interests. Passengers can not ‘block’ a specific person for sitting next to them, other than opting out of the Meet & Seat tool and anonymously select another seat.

When other passengers on the flight share their details via Meet & Seat at a later stage, passengers who registered earlier then receive an e-mail, so they can change seats if they want to. KLM emphasizes that passengers can always choose to show less or more profile details, or remove their profile details from the seat map entirely. Meet & Seat will be available in 90 days and can be used 48 hours before departure. For more on KLM ‘Meet & Seat’ see this video, or read airlinetrends.com’s comment on the service in this MSNBC article.

KLM and social media
KLM, which has over 1 million Facebook fans and 220,000 followers on Twitter, has developed a reputation when it comes to digital media campaigns that combine the online, virtual environment with the offline, real world. Earlier social media initiatives include a Delft Blue-tiles livery based on profile pictures of the airline’s Facebook fans, passengers at Schiphol Airport who were randomly surprised with a personal gift based on their tweets or Facebook messages, and a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Miami with tickets exclusively sold via Twitter. The airline also runs several online communities, called Clubs, based on themes such as golf, running, China and Africa.



2 thoughts on “KLM’s ‘Meet & Seat’ social seating lets passengers pick an interesting seat mate

  1. This is a whole new dimension in the aviation industry. It is not just flying from point A to point B, but simultaneously you can interact with people that share the same interests with you. As we are used to interact with people we know and share our interest (e.g. by liking facebook company pages), an airplane is a very good place to extend our social media usage and even meet people you don’t know. A flight is namely a period of time in which people want to kill the time by reading books and watching movies. And this solution make it really an ‘inspirational journey’ instead of just a flight from A to B.

    I guess this would be a lot of people that travel by plane for their work and meet each other, but also e.g. single travelers that go on holiday and maybe can spend their time together in that foreign country.

    In theory it sound very interesting, but when you have picked someone from Facebook and LinkedIn, aren’t you forced to talk with them, even when you think it isn’t a nice person as you eventually thought he or she was? I’m curious how this worked out. I couldn’t find that much information about ‘meet&seat’-experiences, but if somebody have them, feel free to post them!

  2. It was over two years ago, when this innovation was advertised for the first time, in order to be used in following months. To be honest, back then, I was really shocked about it. I thought it was to extreme to choose your seat mate through a social platform. What would happen in the future? Having only friends through Social Media? Some characterized it a bit discriminatory as well, while it received many negative votes on YouTube. What remains a bit vague to me, is if the person that chooses where to sit, waits for an approval of the other person, because if not, I cannot imagine something more annoying than a stranger talking to you on the whole flight.
    On the other hand, every friend you have, at some point of your life was a completely stranger to you. It is true that through travelling, you can always meet some interesting people and in case you think the application is useless, do not forget it is optional, so you should not use it. Considering KLM’s social media strategy, it was always far more updated than any other airline. So as I see it now, it was time to take advantage of the 4+ million likes on Facebook with an innovative approach.

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