European airlines let passengers choose seatmates

Sheryl Nadler
Shine On
June 11, 2012

The Europeans may have come up with a solution for weary travellers who want to squeeze every possible minute out of a workday.

Last week, Latvian national airline airBaltic announced plans to introduce SeatBuddy, a seat selection service that will allow passengers to choose their seatmates based on mood. Passengers who opt into the free (for now) SeatBuddy service will choose one of three options: Work, for people who want to work in-flight; Business Talk, for people who want to network; or Relax, for people who want silent relaxation.

Also see: How high gas prices might affect your summer vacation plans

AirBaltic's announcement comes on the heels of Royal Dutch Airlines KLM introduction of the "Meet & Seat" seat selection service, which allows passengers to peruse other passengers' Facebook or LinkedIn profiles and select their seats accordingly. "Meet & Seat" is being marketed as either a business or social tool and passengers who opt into it can decide how much or how little of their personal profiles to make public.

The question is: will this fly for Canadians?

"We haven't had any requests for it because it's so new, but I do think it's very interesting and that people would probably want to take advantage of that," says Dianna Reis, a vacation expert with Tripcentral.ca. "Travel is a great way to meet people and what's better than starting off their flight with someone they might hit it off with?"

Also see: Five easy ways to have a better vacation

Reis says while there will always be a contingent of travellers who will shy away from social media-based services such as these, many Canadians will gravitate towards options that allow them to meet other travellers.

"I think that it's something that's going to build in popularity, for sure," she says.

She says so far the most exciting seating options she's been asked to provide have been away from the washroom, window, aisle, under the bulkhead for more space, or, when it's a couple, opposing aisle seats for maximum leg room potential.

"Once in a while we'll get people joking around and say 'ok, sit me next to a blonde,' or something, but we would never have that kind of information of who's sitting where," she says.

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