"Window, aisle or grumpy?" Airline offers seating by mood

By John Walton, June 8 2012

Are you the sort of business traveller to strike up a cheerful conversation with your seatmate, or is it headphones in and nose to the laptop keyboard for you?

Latvian airline Air Baltic is offering to match you up with your idea of the perfect seatmate depending on your mood -- whether you want to work or relax when you fly, or would rather make "business talk" or "easy chat".

It's called "Flight mood":

Like seemingly everything this year, Air Baltic's SeatBuddy wants to connect with your Facebook account, although you can decline this if you want to skip the step to choose your ideal neighbour.

It's all done through the Satisfly system, which has been spruiking its "social travel" concept to travellers for some time now. Air Baltic is first to put the system into place, though, and is usually an airline to watch for innovations -- it was the first European airline to use iPads for inflight entertainment, for example.

But what about my privacy?

If you're concerned about your privacy, Air Baltic says "Customer information is collected in a secure database, and the closest match available on the same flight is identified automatically without disclosing passenger identity or any personal data."

But the interesting question is whether you can game the system with a fake profile to try to seem as antisocial as possible in the interest of snagging a spare middle seat or an entire row to yourself.

Try asking for a "work" seatmate, with requirements that someone work in your pretend industry of "Rocket Science", share your fake hobby of basketweaving and be culturally similar to your faux nationality of [insert little-known country you've picked from the list here], plus be educated to your made-up PhD-level.

And how do you police the system -- is your "Work" seatmate one of those people who mutters as they type, and can you ask to be reseated?

We reckon that the categories could be improved for business travellers. To use Air Baltic's language: how would you like your neighbour to be:

  • A Platinum or Gold frequent flyer cardholder?
  • A VP-level or higher executive?
  • Without a baby, infant or child?
  • Going to the same conference or event that you are?
  • On a similar length of total journey (including stopover times)?
  • Using (or not using) a shared power point?

What's your choice of the Satisfly options – Easy Chat, Relax, Business Talk or Work? Would you prefer another category, or just peace and quiet?

For the very latest news, reviews and information for the business traveller, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on "Window, aisle or grumpy?" Airline offers seating by mood