There are two dueling propositions when boarding any plane nowadays, beyond, obviously, getting to your destination safely and in a reasonable amount of time. One is, will I sit next to some fill-in-the-blank awful -- smelly, loud, obnoxious, drunk, talky, screaming (as in babies), or worrisome in whatever way -- person? Please God, no, don't let that be the case. And two is, especially for singles with a romantic bent, Will I perhaps be seated next to the man or woman of my dreams, or... just someone cute? Because crazier things have happened! And wouldn't that be a story to tell the grandkids.
As these things work out, though, there are far more chances to be seated next to the awful passenger than the dream one. And with the cramped quarters of modern airplanes -- you're really only closer to a stranger when you're packed on a crowded subway train or elevator, and that's for minutes rather than hours -- it seems people have begun to consider an alternative you might call preventative seating. In today's New York Times, Nicola Clark reports that this month, KLM began testing its "Meet and Seat" program, which allows passengers to "upload details from their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles and use the data to choose seatmates."
On a flight from Amsterdam to São Paulo this week, for example, you could have chosen the director of a British answering service, who has a passion for reggae and jazz; an Italian chemical engineer fluent in Dutch, English, Spanish and Portuguese; or a Norwegian alternative-rock fan en route to visit family in Argentina.
While it is not possible to “reject” a person who has chosen to sit with you, you can select another seat as long as two days before the flight. Those feeling awkward about moving can delete their data and select new seats using the standard — anonymous — online platform.
Image via Shutterstock by Blend Images.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.