The day has arrived when some of the travelers sitting with you at the airport gate or on the plane don't have to be nameless and unknown. Two airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Malaysia Airlines, are letting passengers share their social-network profiles or photos and pick seatmates before the flight.
KLM's Meet & Seat and Malaysia Airlines' MHbuddy "social-seating" programs can let you see whether other stockbrokers or insurance industry executives will be on the same plane or whether someone is flying to San Francisco to attend the same business meeting.
Or, they allow you to just peruse passengers' social-network profiles to find a potential soul mate.
The social-seating plans, initiated by KLM in January and by Malaysia Airlines last year, are seen as the ultimate social-networking dream by some and an invitation to stalkers and a privacy nightmare by others.
Some cautions are prudent. But others are based on incomplete or false information about the programs.
"Very weird," writes Nora Barry Byrne on KLM's Facebook page. "I totally vote on the creepy. Is the default to opt in or opt out? If I was traveling with my kids/teens or traveling on my own — all I think of is the creeps that would use this to stalk. I would hope they remind passengers each time to opt out if they don't want to be stalked on a flight."
But KLM Meet & Seat, available on flights between Amsterdam and New York, San Francisco and São Paulo, is voluntary...