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Don't You Know Who I Am?
July 7, 2012 10:30 PM   Subscribe

In 2011 Malaysia Airlines introduced what is believed to be the world's first airline integration with Facebook. In February Air France KLM announced its Meet And Seat program, allowing customers to scan other passengers' social media profiles. to select or reject seatmates. (Previously). It prompted safety and privacy concerns, while others said it showed how a company "gets" social media. In June airBaltic announced it would trial SeatBuddy to make trips more pleasant by seating like-minded people next to each other. Now, British Airways has decided to use the Internet to create dossiers on its customers, including using Google images to find pictures of passengers so that staff can approach them as they arrive at the terminal or plane. The Know Me service will initially be limited to first class passengers and other 'captains of industry'. So-called 'social seating' is part of an emerging trend to marry data-mining with customer service.
posted by Mezentian (79 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I will never fly again.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:35 PM on July 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


I had this idea a long time ago, but I imagined that it would involve twenty dollar bills.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:40 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Forgot the link that was supposed to be under social seating.
posted by Mezentian at 10:42 PM on July 7, 2012


It certainly adds a new dimension to the "spot the Sky Marshall" game.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:55 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


When Facebook started running an organ donor promotion I was really hoping it would crawl my profile and posting history to make sure that no one with differing political views would be eligible to receive my precious kidneys or liver.

But, no. Apparently "all" "human" "life" is "sacred" and of "equal" "value" or some crap like that so any member of the Nullifier Party or some anti-federalist will be free to leech off my corneas.
posted by sourwookie at 11:00 PM on July 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


seating like-minded people next to each other

"Oh stewardess, I speak jive"
posted by stbalbach at 11:03 PM on July 7, 2012 [29 favorites]


It prompted safety and privacy concerns, while others said it showed how a company "gets" social media.

This makes sense, as it seems that prompting safety and privacy concerns is what social media is all about.
posted by dumbland at 11:09 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


More than the "spot the Sky Marshall", I'm more concerned about the "shuffle away all the brownies that make me nervous" game. However, I imagine the first time that actually happens the corresponding court demand is going to have them dismantling and burning any trace of this social seating stuff so fast that it will make everyone dizzy.
posted by Iosephus at 11:12 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Didn't flight attendants used to know all this information about their passengers? I am recalling a scene from Vicki Barr, Flight Stewardess where not only do they have a roster, but it lists passenger weight (to make sure planes weren't overburdened).
posted by ChuraChura at 11:15 PM on July 7, 2012


I'm so fucking tired of "social". I hate what the "net" has become. I hate that everyone and their mother is now "online". I'm an angry old technophile, who, with each passing day becomes more and more of a technophobe.
posted by symbioid at 11:16 PM on July 7, 2012 [28 favorites]


Could I create a profile of myself so horrendous and annoying that no one wanted to sit by me? Because I'd be tempted to do that if it meant I got a row to myself.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:18 PM on July 7, 2012 [39 favorites]


If I was to pay a premium for who I sit next to then I would choose those who are taciturn. I prefer the like minded people were situated out of earshot. I would also predict dangerous clustering of type A people at the front.
posted by rongorongo at 11:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to sit by symbioid.

:(
posted by mazola at 11:36 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


More proof that every social media profile should read like a personal ad from the LRB.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:37 PM on July 7, 2012


Meanwhile, they couldn't even seat my 5 year old daughter next to either of her parents on the flight we just booked for this November. Great.
posted by KathrynT at 11:39 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Unless you are a beautiful woman that wants to make out do not talk to me or even look in my general direction.
posted by solmyjuice at 11:42 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sure this is integrated into their actual seating right up to the point where they have to fill every last fucking seat so in reality you are still going to sit next to the boring siding salesman from Des Moines with a raging cold.
posted by Camofrog at 11:49 PM on July 7, 2012


Could I create a profile of myself so horrendous and annoying that no one wanted to sit by me? Because I'd be tempted to do that if it meant I got a row to myself.

Downside: Given the 200-300 people on any given flight, someone out there has to be more annoying than pseudo-you and I'd be real nervous about playing them odds on a long flight.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:51 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Didn't flight attendants used to know all this information about their passengers? I am recalling a scene from Vicki Barr, Flight Stewardess where not only do they have a roster, but it lists passenger weight (to make sure planes weren't overburdened).

It's certainly the case on smaller planes here in Australia that they will weigh you to make sure the plane is carrying enough fuel for the distance, and there are strict carry-on limits, so I can imagine that in years gone that was something they needed to know.

Of course, people were thinner then, and I suspect more much of the Barr books air travel was more the domain of the rich, so people who flew were simply a better class of folk.
posted by Mezentian at 11:57 PM on July 7, 2012


Look, when I fly, all I want to do is drink cheap scotch, watch Game of Thrones on the tiny TV and knit furiously. Let me have my drunken knitting, airline industry. Leave me alone.
posted by zennish at 11:57 PM on July 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Meet and Seat is a good idea, but I question whether Air France KLM is doing enough to maximize shareholder value. This is a powerful technology for picking nerds last when forming a kickball team, or efficiently seating unpopular children in the worst part of the bus. If they don't license it to schools, they're leaving money on the table.
posted by compartment at 11:58 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, they couldn't even seat my 5 year old daughter next to either of her parents on the flight we just booked for this November. Great.

Obviously someone has already elected to sit next to your child.

But, seriously, that's pretty fucked up. What happened to seating folks together when they purchase tickets on the same credit card? Not not sitting people four months out?
I'd be having words. Stern words.
posted by Mezentian at 12:03 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


It'd be awful to have to sit next to someone not like-minded. Matter of fact, those people should probably be denied access to air travel entirely and just pulled out of the genital-scan line for TSA detention. Glad to see our densely cross-referenced personal information databases are being linked to our travel history.
posted by eurypteris at 12:05 AM on July 8, 2012


I'm not actually in my current Facebook profile picture; my little stuffed bear is. Am I going to have to bring him along to get properly seated on my flight?
posted by Pryde at 12:05 AM on July 8, 2012


Seatbuddy doesn't sound so bad, and the Know Me thing is just another "feature" that can be used to justify paying extra for tickets, but the other programs are kind of odd because they presuppose that you use social media. What if you're not on Facebook or LinkedIn? Does that mean you get shoved in with the passengers no one else wants to sit with? Or maybe it'll show up as a red flag in some database. "Passenger not on Facebook. Possible false identity."
posted by Kevin Street at 12:08 AM on July 8, 2012


BRB, changing profile to Jehovah's Witness acid reflux enthusiast.
posted by Blue Meanie at 12:09 AM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


to marry data-mining with customer service

For the 1%.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:22 AM on July 8, 2012


What happened to seating folks together when they purchase tickets on the same credit card? Not not sitting people four months out?

When we check in, then we'll be given the option to change seats for $30 each, I'm sure. We will be told that if we are changing seats to seat a dependent with a caregiver, the fee will be waived. When we show up at the airport to have the fee waived, the gate agent will swear that he knows nothing about such a policy, and that why do we need to have our seats changed? We're all seated together, after all.

I fucking hate flying.
posted by KathrynT at 12:37 AM on July 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


I have seen the future and I want no part of it...
posted by dagny at 12:38 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh vey. This smacks of a consultant somewhere trying to justify their existence and telling sensible senior management that they didn't get this new social thing. So any way we built, at not inconsiderable cost, this thing which allow peeps to transfer cash amongst their friends and no one used it. Further research revealed this was because people didn't borrow cash from their friends and if they did they would just give it to them, because their friends tended to live near them and just give the cash when they saw them/
posted by Damienmce at 12:40 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I never fly, ever, and don't have a Facebook account. Feels good man.
posted by colie at 1:19 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to update my FB page to include detailed accounts of my bouts of chronic flatulence, overpowering halitosis and love of rebuilding antique model train sets.

It's like getting all the space of business class but for half the price. Thanks technology!
posted by MuffinMan at 2:22 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to sit by symbioid. I do. I can read my book, s/he can read his/hers.
posted by epo at 2:31 AM on July 8, 2012


to marry data-mining with customer service
For the 1%.


I suspect the 1% do use Starbucks.
Globally.

'Cause I sure as hell don't.
posted by Mezentian at 2:41 AM on July 8, 2012


No.
posted by panaceanot at 3:52 AM on July 8, 2012


I hope my profile looks compelling, professional, cordial, and otherwise pleasant to any person who enjoys sitting next to someone zonked out on sleeping pills and wine, cos that's my normal flight routine. Perhaps I should put this in LinkedIn simply so I can be paired up with someone else too out of it to get up and use the lavatory, only so neither of us will be woken.
posted by l2p at 4:39 AM on July 8, 2012


Here's mine.

Don't have BO.

Don't take your goddamned shoes off, you disgusting slob.

Don't be fat, wide or tall.

If I am between you and the aisle, do not have a weak bladder.

Do not be forever fannying about with your overhead luggage. Put that shit up there and LEAVE IT ALONE.

Do not even think of trying to start a conversation with me.


Not much to ask.
posted by Decani at 4:47 AM on July 8, 2012


It's borderline impossible for me to wrap my head around anything premised on the notion that people want strangers to talk to them on airplanes.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:38 AM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Caught a plane a couple of months ago in China next to an older couple who had quite obviously never been on a plane before. I had to show them how to fasten the seatbelt and tighten it, how to put the tray down and up, and I let them know (gesturally) what was happening as we took off, as we climbed, and as we landed.

So occasionally there's a little tiny something in it for someone.
posted by Wolof at 6:02 AM on July 8, 2012


Why yes, you're right — I didn't "have to" show them anything! Patronising white asshole that I am.

/pre-emptive
posted by Wolof at 6:07 AM on July 8, 2012


Oh good god. This will go swimmingly because after all, internet date is fool-proof. That stunningly beautiful woman you've chosen to sit next to? Yeah, she is going to look just like her picture on Facebook.

Is it just me or has the pressure to join Facebook been ramped up? A year ago it was just something you could choose to do or not but now it seems like hardly a day goes by without some prodding by friends, family, corporations, or other websites to join. I fully expect to wake up one day and discover a surcharge for not being on Facebook.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:17 AM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have become so weary of this underlying geek conceit that if one isn't enthralled by, and immediately immerses oneself in, social media, we simply (and obviously) don't "get" it. As if those of us who aren't so ecstatic about Facebook to where we spread our entire lives across it are somehow uneducated troglodytes.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:19 AM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


When we check in, then we'll be given the option to change seats for $30 each, I'm sure. We will be told that if we are changing seats to seat a dependent with a caregiver, the fee will be waived.

In my experience, people on the plane are invariably nice about this. The answer to "Will you trade seats with me" is just about never "No, I really want to sit next to your kid."
posted by escabeche at 6:28 AM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Meanwhile, they couldn't even seat my 5 year old daughter next to either of her parents on the flight we just booked for this November. Great.

Obviously, she had different interests listed on her FB profile.

Is it just me or has the pressure to join Facebook been ramped up? A year ago it was just something you could choose to do or not but now it seems like hardly a day goes by without some prodding by friends, family, corporations, or other websites to join. I fully expect to wake up one day and discover a surcharge for not being on Facebook.

I don't know about a surcharge, but I do suspect that FB will become something one is required to have in order to access some services, just like you need a credit card if you are hoping to rent a car.
posted by Forktine at 6:29 AM on July 8, 2012


I'm okay with this as long as 'like-minded' translates to: can keep your elbows to yourself and will not say a single word to me throughout the entire flight. That's really all I ask.

(I fly a lot. It's fun, now that I'm going around the EU a lot, to realise what an absolutely shitty experience flying into and out of the US is, compared to, apparently, everywhere else.)
posted by kalimac at 6:41 AM on July 8, 2012


This will be great for stalkers. The person next to you will know all the places you work(ed), the city you live in, who your friends and coworkers are, pictures of your kids and house and that vacation you took. That plus the info they can get from public databases for your property assessments (your home address), phone directories, and so on -- you'll never be able to lose them.

Plus, not at all creepy that they can read up on you beforehand, so that they can quiz you about details they didn't quite understand.
posted by Houstonian at 6:48 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never book flights that I can't choose seats on beforehand.

And I choose aisle seats with intensity. So if I was asked to switch, even for a kid, if it took me off the aisle I would say no.

And then it would be like the David Sedaris story: 'why?' 'Because he's an asshole! That's why!'. Except I'm a she. And I want to be able to go to the bathroom without my seatmate hating me...and/or having to ask them to switch seats first, and/or climbing over them multiple times if they refuse. Also I think flight attendants and indivuals switching seats while on board slows things down,,just like the people who bring too much stuff onboard and then are 'shocked' when it doesn't fit anywhere.

Solve that shit first. Don't fly (an airline) unless you can pre-book the seats you want, and don't bring too much stuff on board.
posted by bquarters at 7:02 AM on July 8, 2012


Do people ask to switch seats when theirs are inferior? That's bizarre.

I can't see this taking off, although I fervently long for a way to know which seats our occupied by kids or infants in laps.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:06 AM on July 8, 2012


As far as the facebooking goes- if it results in a quick gin and tonic, working tv with good films and a quiet but open to the 'hey hello', 'ok goodbye' beginning and ending brief small talk neighbor then that's fine. Although how are the really going to glean that info from my limited use of social media?
posted by bquarters at 7:08 AM on July 8, 2012


I'd almost be tempted to create a second Facebook profile just to use in these situations. Something guaranteed to scare anyone...Satanic puppy-sacrificer and cookie-baking-granny alike.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:16 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh vey. This smacks of a consultant somewhere trying to justify their existence...
posted by Damienmce


This smacks of a consultant somewhere being seated four rows behind the cute girl.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:25 AM on July 8, 2012


Maybe roll those two together into a granny who bakes cookies made of dead puppies. I wouldn't want to sit next to that.
posted by palomar at 7:28 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


(now there's a sentence I probably won't use again.)
posted by palomar at 7:28 AM on July 8, 2012


In a world where flying is already an exercise in induced insanity, this merely merits an eye roll.
posted by emjaybee at 7:30 AM on July 8, 2012


In a world where...

Is there a person alive who did not read that comment in THAT voice?
posted by Mezentian at 7:35 AM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know about a surcharge, but I do suspect that FB will become something one is required to have in order to access some services, just like you need a credit card if you are hoping to rent a car.

Spotify is already like this. Once you register you can generate a device id and password and delink your Facebook account, but the initial setup demands that you give a Facebook id.

I keep waiting for Facebook to implode just so it doesn't spread, but apparently it is too late.
posted by winna at 7:37 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Likes: Leprosy, Bedbugs
posted by spitbull at 7:57 AM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it just me or has the pressure to join Facebook been ramped up? A year ago it was just something you could choose to do or not but now it seems like hardly a day goes by without some prodding by friends, family, corporations, or other websites to join.

God, yes. The only time I can go without hearing about how super wonderful Facebook is and how everyone should be on it is if I go on vacation to places with no net access. I'm so tired of it.

I don't know about a surcharge, but I do suspect that FB will become something one is required to have in order to access some services, just like you need a credit card if you are hoping to rent a car.

It already is. I'm already boycotting some of the new, cool sites (no, I'm not on Pinterest!) because they only allow you access with social networking sites.

Unfortunately, I think within a year we are all going to be forced to have Facebook and use it constantly. There will no longer be the option of not using it because all employers will force you to use it to pimp your work, and the government will want to get in on the fun by being able to track your every move, and you rapidly won't be able to use most or all of the Internet without logging into Facebook first. The ONLY reason I haven't killed my stupid token boring account that I ignore daily is that I know darned well someone's going to force me to bring it back again if I dump it.

But being fucking stalked by airlines with Facebook? Frankly, that one didn't even occur to me. Ye gods. I am suddenly glad that I have never flown internationally and probably never will.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:29 AM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The growing importance of social media is a real bummer for we who are losers with monster looks.
posted by samofidelis at 8:56 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my experience, people on the plane are invariably nice about this. The answer to "Will you trade seats with me" is just about never "No, I really want to sit next to your kid."

Not always. When you're asking someone to trade an aisle or window seat next to two adults for a middle seat -- because that's where they've put your kid, is in a middle seat five rows away from you and your spouse -- they often get quite shirty about it. Looking at these again, they've actually got both my five year old AND my two year old miles away from either my husband or I, and both of us are seated in middle seats nowhere near each other.

The two year old is only happy when he's running around or climbing on things. Good luck with that, Random Plane Travelers!
posted by KathrynT at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2012


I'm already boycotting some of the new, cool sites (no, I'm not on Pinterest!) because they only allow you access with social networking sites.

Talking Points Memo recently abandoned their own logins in favor of requiring members use either a Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail login. It's ridiculous.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:10 AM on July 8, 2012


Because planes always take off on time and all of the airline systems are completely smooth, this will no doubt be a simple change.

(Also, one of the things I love about travelling is the feeling of anonymity. I really hope this never trickles down to me in economy--without any $20 seat selection options, thank you--because it would ruin everything.)
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:35 AM on July 8, 2012


they often get quite shirty about it.

Try asking other parents, I guess? I'm pretty intent on the aisle seat too (and it had better be on the left-hand side of the plane or it's not really an aisle) but I would never hesitate to move to a middle seat in order to let a parent sit with their kid, because I have plenty of experience traveling with my own kids.

How do you know which passengers are unaccompanied parents? Well, you read all their Facebook profiles, right?
posted by escabeche at 12:06 PM on July 8, 2012


Creeeepy.
And strengthening my resolve not to fly.
posted by windykites at 12:43 PM on July 8, 2012


Also, isn't being forced to interact with different people what makes our ability to socialize better? AND ALSO anyone who has met someone online and then met in real life can verify that superficial "sharrd interests" doesn't guarantee that you'll get along, whereas sometimes people who are very different become best of freinds.

Also, this "seat buddy" thing only gives you 4 very vague "moods" to choose from. What if you're not in one of those moods? What if your idea of one mood is someone else's idea of another?

Arg.
posted by windykites at 12:50 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


And strengthening my resolve not to fly.
posted by windykites at 8:43 PM on July 8 [+][!]


Eponysterical
posted by MuffinMan at 12:55 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


ALSO, sometimes I don't want super friendly chipper personalised customer service. I don't want a stewardess I have never met to know details about me and fake-friend me because its their job. I don't even like it when bank tellers make small talk with me because I know its a requirement of their job.. I want them to do their job and leave me alone. And sometimes I don't want to be around polite people. And sometimes I don't want to be around people like me because I get sick of myself. Grrr.
posted by windykites at 12:57 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Immediately switching my Facebook profile pic to one of an old man showing off a wallet full of grandchildren pics. I will never have to sit next to anybody ever again.
posted by Spatch at 1:45 PM on July 8, 2012


I'm wondering if this would make it better or worse to fly with kids. On the one hand... everyone knows there's a kid! They can request to be seated "Next To Anyone But That Kid" beforehand.

On the other hand, SOMEONE is going to get stuck in that third seat next to the kid and NO ONE is going to want the seat and then there's the policy! They were PROMISED! a seat in the super Rancho Relaxo section.

I've already had people *in*formally demand to the flight attendants that No, I Am Not Sitting Here And You Can't Make Me - having a formal policy in place just seems to invite more complaints when the policy inevitably fails someone who absolutely did not want to be seated in the Toddler Freak Out section.
posted by sonika at 2:54 PM on July 8, 2012


On the other hand... I'm wondering if I can use this policy to my advantage and claim that *I* specifically asked to be seated in the Not Having My Eyes Clawed Out Zone and that the land squid on the loose is now the problem of the airline...

(Seriously - I get not wanting to switch seats, but it's gonna be SO MUCH WORSE to be stuck next to someone else's kid.)
posted by sonika at 3:11 PM on July 8, 2012


I just wonder about the poor flight attendants trying to locate the woman with the elaborate facepaint (or the mask, or the power blue wig...). It's not that its impossible to find a normal picture of me online, but the stock ones I use tend to involve some obscuring factor.
posted by Karmakaze at 4:35 PM on July 8, 2012


I just wonder about the poor flight attendants trying to locate the woman with the elaborate facepaint (or the mask, or the power blue wig...).

I'm pretty sure the trolly dollies all know who Lady Gaga is.
posted by Mezentian at 5:10 PM on July 8, 2012


I'd be less concerned about the person sitting right next to me - I always try to get a window seat and generally get there and immediately either go to sleep or pretend to go to sleep, precluding much interaction. What is horrifying about this is the matching up of yammering troglodytes to sit directly behind me. Oh. No.
This thread is making me dread my SIX flights coming up this week. Shit.
posted by zoinks at 8:34 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never have I longed more for the moment where $150 oil renders the business model of using free energy to propel people between nodes in a functioning economy defunct.
posted by falcon at 2:28 AM on July 9, 2012


I always like to think of airline seating plans in terms of personality disorders: narcissists, anti-socials and histrionic types go in first and business class where they believe they belong. Dependent personality types get seated adjacently to each of them. The paranoid fill up the exit rows and OCD people go next to the bathrooms. Avoidant and schizoid people go wherever they are damn well told. Passive aggressive types go next to depressives because that is "fine - just absolutely fine" by them.
posted by rongorongo at 5:18 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I can somehow use this technology to reserve a seat as far as fucking possible from crying babies, my choice in airlines will be determined entirely by the presence of this feature.

"baby in profile picture? please seat me at least 12 rows away from them. thanks!"
posted by Afroblanco at 5:45 AM on July 9, 2012


I am somewhat heartened by the fact that this would never, ever work on Southwest Airlines.

That being said, since moving to the eastern part of the US, I'm using Amtrak more and more. And liking it.
posted by Thistledown at 7:04 AM on July 9, 2012


I'm going to keep a photo of me and my kids (back when they were babies) as my FB profile pic so I don't have to sit so close to Afroblanco...
posted by smcniven at 9:55 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


In that case, my choice to sit far from you will be just as wise, albeit for different reasons.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:58 AM on July 9, 2012


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