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Latvian airline launches world-first flight buddies

Baltic carrier introduced a new scheme that aims to sit like-minded fliers together

AFP, Monday 4 Jun 2012
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Getting trapped in a boring conversation with a fellow passenger aboard a plane could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a world-first flight buddy system developed by Latvia's national airline.

Baltic flag-carrier airBaltic's new "SeatBuddy" scheme aims to sit like-minded fliers next to each other.
 
"We're the first in the world to offer this," airBaltic spokesman Janis Vanags told AFP, adding that passengers will not however be given the option of banning anyone from sitting next to them.
 
Passengers can choose from three preferred "flight moods" according to whether they want to get on with work, make new business contacts or simply not be bothered by someone's droning voice for the duration of the flight.
 
The service is optional and free and can also take into account any hobbies or interests fellow-travellers might share, ensuring that football fans or potato farmers get adjacent seats and the chance to chat from take-off to landing.
 
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.
 
The first test flights with intelligent seating will take off at the end of June and will be used to "explore its future commercial potential" according to Michael Grimme of the airline's sales and marketing department.
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