KLM's New Social Media-Based Seating Is Awesome (and Also, Awful)

airplane615.jpg

The good news: Social media can connect us in ways that were never before possible. The bad news: Social media can connect us in ways that were never before possible. Facebook and its fellow networks always offer trade-offs -- between privacy and publicness, between the comforts of anonymity and the responsibilities of recognition. Which means that pretty much every time a major innovation in social media comes along, we, the users, end up asking ourselves: Really? How great, actually, is this shiny new thing?  

With that in mind, I love the awesomely/tellingly conflicted press reactions to today's news that KLM has launched Meet & Seat, the airline's flight-based social media program. Using the service, you can see the Facebook and LinkedIn profiles of your fellow flight passengers ... and then use that information to select your seat.

On the one hand, the program is simply another great way to connect with other people -- the premise of social media brought, basically, to the social space of the skies:

With Meet & Seat, KLM integrates social media with air travel (KLM)

Travelers Can Select Seatmates (The Daily Beast)

KLM customers can use Facebook data to pick seats (The Boston Globe)

On the other hand, Meet & Seat could help us to disconnect from each other, indulging the airborne misanthropy that lurks within all of us: 

KLM offers way to avoid awkward in-flight chats (Washington Post)

Or it could simply help us to be more selective about the people we socialize with on our flights:

Use Facebook to Find the Least Worst Plane Seatmate (Vanity Fair)

Selecting a Seatmate to Make Skies Friendlier (New York Times)

But it could also eradicate the serendipity of in-flight romances and social connections: 

Will Social Seating Selection Kill the Airplane Meet-Cute? (The Atlantic Wire)

And it could bring travelers back to the horrors of high school: 

Airline Using Facebook To Turn Jet Cabin Into High School Cafeteria (The Consumerist)

And it could offer yet another way to bring creepiness to the experience of air travel: 

KLM Introduces A New Way To Be Creepy On An Airplane (Business Insider)

So: A service that's social, but also anti-social, and that's friendly, but also snobby, and that's practical, but also creepy. Seems about right.


Image: Shutterstock/Jordan Tan.

Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Technology

Just In