Airline Passengers Pick Seats Based on 'Mood'

Courtesy airBaltic

Should you find yourself on airBaltic, Latvia's national airline, you may want to relax. Or work. Or network for business opportunities. Whatever kind of mood you're in, airBaltic will find the perfect seatmate for you.

The airline announced a new service called SeatBuddy, which "enables customers to sit next to passengers with similar interests or travel mood."  Test flights that feature SeatBuddy are scheduled to begin in late June 2012.

"We are delighted to introduce this new service, as our customers can be seated next to like-minded travellers," Michael Grimme, Senior Vice President for sales and marketing at airBaltic, said in a press release. "We are launching this as a free-of-charge additional service, and at the same time exploring its future commercial potential."

That's code for it's free for now, but if it's wildly popular, expect to pay for it in the future.

The airline seats people next to the best possible neighbor by asking passengers to indicate their preferred "flight mood." For example, a person who wishes to network will choose "Business Talk."  The airline will, it said, automatically assign a seat next to the closest match, without disclosing any personal information.

AirBaltic is the latest, but not the first, airline to experiment with social seating. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Meet & Seat launched in January; Malaysia Airlines' MHbuddy began last year.