An internet entrepreneur has created a matchmaking service for air travellers to help make the time fly. Inspired by a flight where he found himself seated next to Miss Texas, Peter Shankman says he set up New York based AirTroductions to give travellers a chance to choose their seatmates.
“It is for anyone who travels who doesn't want to have to deal with the psychological hell of sitting two inches from someone you don't know for eight hours,” he said.
To use AirTroductions, travellers register online, listing personal details in a profile. When they post their travelling itineraries, the registry provides information on other people taking the same flights.
The registry is free until a user opts to contact a fellow traveller for a five dollar fee. Nearly 4,500 people have enrolled, although only around 60 have made matches since the registry kicked off last year.
Randy Petersen, editor of InsideFlyer magazine said: “I am not sure the idea will work. Having a good seat trumps chatting with a stranger.
“A frequent flyer would never give up an upgrade to first class to go back and sit in coach next to someone you may want to throw out of the plane in the first hour.
“And there's the question of who gets the middle seat. I'm not sure any conversation is interesting enough to have two elbows with me,” Petersen added.
While the system is designed for networking a fair share of the people registered with AirTroductions admit they are looking for dates. However, some appear more promising than others.
One man provided his photo, with half his hair coloured pink and the other bright blue. One woman promised she “always smells nice,” while another insisted that any seatmate must wear full body deodorant spray.
A photographer said he was looking for investors, an executive said he was seeking “engaging conversations” about globalization and technology and a Rabbi said he would like to “schmooze about Judaism.”
In Petersen's view, most passengers prefer travelling alone, playing video games on laptops while tuning into music on headphones. However, “even the most misanthropic traveller can find happiness in AirTroductions,” Shankman said.
The system also allows passengers to note if what they really desire is a seatmate who will leave them alone.