The NY Times reports that the Dutch airline KLM has begun testing a program called Meet And Seat, which allows you to choose the person you sit next to based on their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles.
This program will no doubt lead to single male passengers desperately scouring the airplane seating plan for an attractive young woman to sit next to (might as well rename it Meat And Market), which in turn should keep most women from sharing their online profiles with the airline. If I traveled on KLM, I’d search for people who say they don’t like to engage in conversation, are very thin, won’t climb over me to use the bathroom during the flight, and never bring smelly sandwiches to eat in flight.
I prefer to leave things like this to chance. Sure, I’ve ended up sitting next to a guy who smelled so much like an ashtray that I thought he’d just burned down his house for the insurance money. Or the old woman who kept talking to me so loudly I could still hear her through my headphones. Or the parent with the screaming child who won’t even make an effort to calm the kid down.
But I also remember a very happy seating coincidence I experienced 30+ years ago. I was on my way to a radio convention in San Diego when I found myself sitting next to an absolutely stunning brunette who was about my age (I’m guessing we were both 22). She was a model, on her way home from a fashion shoot in New York — the kind of woman who under any circumstance wouldn’t even give me the time of day. But seeing as how we had several hours to kill, she was more than happy to make conversation with me, even showing me her portfolio, full of beautiful pictures, including a couple of (tastefully done) nude shots.
Enraptured by this beauty but always horrible at picking up women, I didn’t do what any other guy might have done in that situation — asked her to join me when we landed for a drink, or for dinner, or a swim in the hotel pool. Instead, we just had a good time talking and laughing as we crossed the country at 35,000 feet, and I think she may have appreciated the fact that I wasn’t hitting on her.
Good thing, too, because not long before we landed, she showed me a picture of her boyfriend, who just happened to be a sumo wrestler. That’s when I paused to realize that this entire experience could easily have been a lot worse.
I could have been sitting next to him.