News24

Checking out who checks in

2012-04-05 12:00

Georgina Guedes

Being of small physique, I know only too well the agony of being picked last for sports teams by my schoolmates in that excruciating process that only sadistic PT instructors could come up with.

So when I first heard of KLM launching an app called Seat and Meet that allows users to select whom they sit next to on flights based on their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, as well as other inputs like whether or not they are “talkers”, I felt that this could add a whole new level of unwelcome tension to flying.

I imagine the process would be opt-in, which means that if you want to fly incognito you still can. However, as soon as there are tools that allow you to choose your too-close-for-comfort companion, you’re damn well going to jump at the chance to use them, aren’t you?

We all know the agony of anticipation as a lumbering, plus-size rugby player type makes his way up the narrow aisle. “Please, please, please don’t let him be headed for seat 15B, please!”

Relief or sinking resignation bordering on panic follow in short order. But as much as I would prefer to sit next to a quiet, intelligent, attractive, extremely underweight person of either gender, (or, you know, George Clooney) I feel like it should be luck of the draw, to avoid turning intercontinental flights into some bizarre popularity contest at best or dating game at worst.

It just seems to open up so much opportunity for exploitation: I use the app to avoid having to share the armrest with a haunch of beef. I select someone of moderate attractiveness who claims not to be a talker. Sadly, the guy turns out to have lied about his garrulous intentions and quite fancies a bit of a chat with me – after all, I chose him...

Presumably KLM have put some thought into the development of the app and its permissions and settings, but I still think that it raises all kinds of tricky ethical questions, and opens up those who might already suffer from the prejudice of others to even more pointed ostracism.

Presumably, someone has to be seated first. Obviously, the later you seat yourself, the more chance you have of checking out your fellow checkers-in, but you are less likely to get a coveted window seat, so I guess KLM is hoping for natural impulses to prevent havoc being wrought with timeous boarding procedures.

After all, no matter who I might end up sitting next to, I’d still rather get to my destination on time.

However Seat and Meet might work in theory and practice, it will be interesting to watch airline passengers making use of this new technology – but KLM had better brace itself for a whole new wave of chancers for the Mile High Club.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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Comments
  • Arthur - 2012-04-05 15:05

    I am all for this app. Last time I flew to Amsterdam I was crushed in between to 7 foot monsters whose elbows were banging into my ears when they were eating. I felt like a character from Toy Story (not that I'm "small" at just shy of 6ft). Georgina I'll gladly attempt the Mile High Club with you ;-)

      Arthur - 2012-04-05 16:29

      I take it the two thumbs down are from her and her husband haha

      James - 2012-04-06 10:37

      Dude, just shy of 6 ft is small

  • Inky - 2012-04-05 19:10

    I would prefer to know who has been eating garlic and subsequently choose to sit next to anybody else.

  • Ditiro - 2012-04-05 21:15

    stop your smoke screen excuses annd be free to express your racist atittudes

      Arthur - 2012-04-05 23:32

      You're the kind of knob that will never get into the mile high club.

  • Keith - 2012-04-06 14:02

    It is all very well choosing who to sit next to, but what if she chooses not to sit next to you?

  • Blip - 2012-04-12 00:35

    I could say I'm a 170kg 7ft tall garlic-eating behemoth who snores and breaks wind while sleeping. That way I could score a full four seats in the centre aisle of a 747 and have a sweet stretched-out sleep on a 15h longhaul flight for the price of a cattle-class ticket. Excellent!

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