Air passengers to find 'seat-mates' on Facebook

Airline will allow travellers to choose who they sit next to on social network sites

Most backpackers will be familiar with the routine of anonymous plane travel on their gap year. But the idea of boarding a flight and spending the next few hours beside to a stranger could soon be a thing of the past. 

Dutch airline KLM has confirmed that passengers will soon be able to pick who they sit next to on flights using the social media sites Facebook and LinkedIn. 

Gedi Schijver, a spokesperson for KLM, told "We are still developing this service, but it should be ready early next year."

The service, which has been dubbed 'meet and seat', will see travellers checking in online to access the relevant social network site and requesting their seat-mate by selecting a fellow passenger.

Although further details have not been released, commentators have speculated as to how passengers will use this new technology. It has been suggested that the Facebook check-in could effectively be used as a dating service, with travellers researching attractive fellow passengers in advance.

Professional networking site LinkedIn could serve an altogether different function. Passengers travelling for work rather than pleasure could potentially find the new check-in process an incredibly valuable way to build business relationships.

KLM are not the only airline working towards a more social future. According to the Daily Mail, Malaysia Airlines is releasing a service on Facebook which will allow passengers to check if they have any friends booked on the same flight or visiting the same destination.

It will not be a requirement for all KLM passengers to pick their seat-mates online. There will be an 'opt-out' option to allow travellers to retain their anonymity.

Presently KLM transports over 23 million passengers a year, and seems committed to giving all its customers the opportunity to engage with each other before they even arrive at the airport. If other major airlines follow KLM's lead, the day when your seat-mate knows where you work, where you spent last weekend and what you thought of last night's TV looks could be just around the corner.  

Would you like to use social networks to find a 'seat-mate'? Do you like the idea of getting to know fellow passengers before your flight? Would you be more likely to opt-out of a service like this?  

Learn more on how gap year flights work by reading our Beginner's Guide to Round the World Tickets