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It is normally considered to be a great coincidence when it happens: meeting the love of your life on a plane. After boarding, you end up sitting next to ‘The One’: your soul mate, the love of your life, that prince you have always been looking for. During those few hours in the air, you get to know each other, fall in love, and marriage and kids are soon to follow … it’s the perfect Hollywood movie script.

But this great coincidence is normally considered to be a very unlikely occurrence. You have a better chance of sitting next to an overweight, I-need-both-armrests-even-if-that-means-I-need-to-push-your-elbows-off-slowly-but-surely, while snoring, drooling and spreading unpleasant odours.

A note on smelly fellow passengers

Usually, every time your fellow passenger reaches out to grab a drink from the air hostess his nasty armpit whiff comes your way, and when he takes off his shoes for ‘comfort’ you sit in intense discomfort for the rest of the flight. These odours are generally mixed with an I-haven’t-brushed-my-teeth-in-days morning breath, made worse through the large amounts of alcohol that your fellow passenger manages to gulp down during the flight. Under these circumstances, you often find yourself sleeping with your nose locked into your own armpit, as self-produced juices are always more bearable than those cultivated by random strangers.

In fact, I’d say the chance that you are reading this thinking, ‘She sat next to the same guy as I did during my flight’ is almost 100%. Being annoyed by our fellow passengers (or their children who kick your vertebrae in a different shape while screaming at the top of their lungs), is almost a given. Most jumbo jets carry a few hundred passengers so you don’t need to calculate the odds to figure out that you are not going to like all of them.

Aeroplanes promise to transport you safely to your destination, while comfortably is only optional, as it is dependent on the random passengers that occupy the seats around you. And for some reason, those random passengers always bring a wailing new born, unpleasant body odour, annoying habits and/or uninteresting stories about their granny’s sister’s dog that you weren’t even vaguely interested in.

Love is in the air? Not if you’re flying. The Hollywood script generally stays a Hollywood script, and we often spend our time on planes wishing we’d landed already.


KLM’s Social Seating

Yet KLM has recently come up with a plan that should be strengthening the unlikely odds of sitting next to a charming businessman or gorgeous supermodel. The Royal Dutch Airline hopes to launch ‘Social Seating’ early in 2012. This application will allow passengers to not only choose the location of their seat, but also the person they’d like to sit next to. The airline does not want to reveal all details, but a spokesperson has confirmed that travellers will be able to digitally ‘check out’ (pun not intended) their future fellow passengers through social networking sites such as Facebook and Linkedin.

Subsequently, you can decide to either remain in your chosen seat (next to the handsome businessman) or swap from an aisle seat next to an old lady (you really aren’t interested in her grandchildren) to a young woman working in advertising (she may have connections that could come in handy now that you are starting up your own company).

‘But that is only the start of the possibilities of Social Seating,’ the KLM spokesperson mysteriously adds. She clearly received instructions to reveal no more.

This means we will have to wait patiently until the new app is ‘up in the air’, but for the time being, I am already excited that during future flights, I may be able to eliminate those unwanted passengers from the seats around me.

The app could be extremely useful if you’re interested in getting in touch with interesting employers – those that rejected you for interviews in the past, have no way of avoiding you while strapped in a seat in the air for hours on end. For entrepreneurs who like to use and abuse every opportunity to get in touch with potential clients and investors, KLM’s initiative may also be extremely helpful.

And finally, for those lonely travellers who have not yet found the love of their life and wouldn’t mind helping ‘chance’ and ‘coincidence’ in finding the perfect soul mate, your app is in the making.

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