KLM & Malaysia offering more than just Frequent Flier Miles

Close to 1 Billion people on the planet are logged onto Facebook today! And it looks like some of them are using the social network to take to the friendly skies… That is while flying with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Malaysia Air.

Yes, social networking has infiltrated our airspace. No longer does the person seated next to you need to be a stranger at 35,000 feet; even before the plane takes off, the two of you could have shared Facebook or Linkedin profiles and discovered common interests.

KLM’s “Meet & Seat” and Malaysia’s “MHbuddy” social seating programs can offer you insight about which frequent fliers are scheduled to board your flight and even allow you to changes seats if the person’s profile pic next to you seems a little creepy. Or maybe you would rather sit next to that industry insider you have been trying to meet for years.

KLM recently started this voluntary program with flights between Amsterdam to New York and San Francisco to São Paulo. Up to 48 hours before the flight departs, passengers can access “Manage my Booking” on the airline’s website and opt into “Meet & Seat”. From there they can share their Facebook or Linkedin profiles with other passengers. It even offers flyers the ability to edit your profile and photo, allowing socially connected passengers control over what information they want to share.

“Dozens of passengers have already shared their profile during the first few days,” says KLM spokeswoman, Ellen van Ginkel, to USA Today. “We see an even spread between the … routes, business and economy class, Facebook and LinkedIn, men and women.”

Malaysia Airlines’ MHbuddy is a Facebook application that travelers can use to book their flights. From within the application, they can view photos and seat selections of their Facebook friends. They can even chose to sit next to one of their online buddies, if the seat is available.

JetBlue, American Airlines and Delta Airlines have admitted to taking note of the social seating trend, yet they show no signs of adopting the trend right now.

“We haven’t ruled out social seating or similar concepts, but it’s not something we’re actively pursuing,” says Allison Steinberg, a JetBlue spokeswoman. “We’re conscious of some of the privacy concerns it might raise and are careful to listen to cues from our customers on what they want.”

Honestly, whenever sharing information with strangers online or in the air, it is wise to be cautious. However, on the flip side, who knows… maybe these new socially connected airline programs could help you meet Mr. or Mrs. Right.

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