The End of the Single Serving Friend?

Selecting a Seatmate to Make Skies Friendlier

A number of airlines have made attempts at ending what Tyler Durden referred to as the “single serving friend,” a stranger you meet for a few hours, exchange pleasantries with, and never speak to again.  Dutch airline KLM seems to be at the forefront with a very simple opt-in program called Meet and Seat that allows users to include information from either Facebook or LinkedIn and find compatible matches based on that information.  This program also allows you to check in on who will be sitting next to you (assuming you are both on Meet and Seat) and if you don’t feel as though you will be compatible, you can just switch seats once again.

The beauty of Meet and Seat really is its simplicity, other airlines such as Air France, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic have tried to create walled off networks which make the barrier to entry for the user too high.

Will this provide flyers with a better experience?  Will it keep them coming back?

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10 thoughts on “The End of the Single Serving Friend?

  1. In principal, this seems like a great idea. I would be willing to sit next to anyone on a flight as long as its not the crying baby. If I can guarantee that ahead of time, this seems like a great thing. However, I’m not that willing to share information about me with complete strangers. Looking at some of the pictures in the article (see links below), the info you have to share isn’t that personal.

    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2012/02/24/business/SEATS1.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2012/02/24/business/SEATS2.html

    On Facebook or Twitter, your personal information is shared with people in your network – people you know and allow them to view your online life. This is not the case with Meet and Seat. Its success will depend on how willing people are to share information with complete strangers.

  2. This is definitely an interesting concept. I think I can get behind it, its always nerve racking waiting to see who will be sharing that armrest and airspace with you. I do not think its a reason to choose this airlines over any other but to the right person it could be good. I just would not want anyone to think that this service signs me up for 2 hours of conversation, call me old fashioned but I’d prefer to exchange pleasantries and light conversation. This seems to build on a trend that social media is simplifying everything, you no longer have to work at having that conversation, you already know information about the person. At the same time that its innovative, its also saddening.

  3. I am on the fence with this program. I think it has the potential to make your flight experience better if you looking to network and have a conversation on the plane that interest you. The negative of this program is that you may end up sitting next to someone who wants to talk the whole flight. In regards to crying babies, my guess is that new moms or dads are unlikely to be on this program since they will know that people will try to avoid them haha.

  4. Yet another vote for being on the fence about it. I like the concept and don’t mind the sharing the information, but would generally rather nap than yap during my flights. It does open up for some networking and interesting conversation, though. Can also be a doorway to travel tips.

  5. Im all for this program. While the airlines are at it, I would love to know the weight and size of the person next too me also! I think this program should be an automatic thing, so that all people on the plane are identified, and does not give the option to not participate. This will probably allow people to become more comfortable with their flying experience.

  6. It is really a good way for airline to improve passengers’ flying experience. The seating program seems to be interesting since for me meeting someone who shares the common interest on the plane would be an exciting thing. I also would be more willing to sit beside the person who speaks the same languages. After all, it is a good way for me to make great connections. On the other hand, social media is a great and trustful database for companies. So I think it is a good program for both passengers and airline companies.

  7. Greg, great title, I love the Fight Club reference. Cool idea, but a coast to coast flight could end up being the most miserable blind date ever! Ultimately, I think customers will still pick the cheapest flight or most convenient flight, and use this social media screening tool and an added benefit or feature.

  8. With the price of airfare, airlines have to figure out ways to improve the customer experience. In concept it sounds cool, but I agree with most of the other commenters I don’t want to share my information with an airline let alone with a random passenger. Perhaps if I travelled a lot for business I could see the benefit, or if I was on an extremely long flight.

  9. I don’t know about this. I am actually rather skeptical about it. Yet another way social media is attempting to effectively infringe about that “element of surprise” aspect of life. When I go on a plane, I am either flying with someone, therefore there is no need for me to know who is sitting next to me, or I am flying solo, whereby I truly want to be left alone with my book. However, there have been several instances where I did indeed strike up a conversation with people I have had zero similarities with (and for that matter I would not have sat next to if I was given a brief bio about them) and I came out of it slightly more engaged with myself.

    Granted, such a social site may make a flight more entertaining for most, but I would rather be left alone when in flight. Besides, striking up a random conversation with a complete and total stranger is not all that bad. Whats next, “Meet and Eat” – I ‘ll get a bio of the people at a particular restaurant whose reservations are at 7. “Nah – I don’t like who is eating here at 7, lets see who is there at 8”??

  10. I remember when I was flying here on ANA, there was this special system through which you can type to chat with anyone on the plane. The only thing you need to do to start a conversation is to enter the seat number and say hi. At first I thought it’s weird to randomly pick someone and start talking. It seems pointless. But after 4 hours sitting apart from my friends, I felt a need of this system.
    I think the upgrading of such meet and seat in the air is of great benefit to the airlines. Of course for an airline, customers judge you by not only these accessory features but also your services and flights. But this would add extra point to the company when the customers are really experiencing well. It’s like the app of Friend Them. We want to keep in touch with someone we meet “unexpected” but important to us.
    However, I agree with most of other comments here that I don’t want to share my personal info with airlines just to get in touch with someone that I might want to meet and know.

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