Flying is always a roll of the dice. You might end up sitting next to someone who rocks (I have several friends who I met on flights) or you could sit next to that guy who’s been travelling for 24 hours from some exotic country, has been smoking like a fiend during his layovers, and has a bad stomach. And he snores. And lays his head on your shoulder while he snores. Yeah. That Guy.
Avoiding That Guy, and making sure you sit next to someone who rocks is what SeatID is all about.
SeatID does social seating as a SaaS solution for airlines and travel websites, enabling individuals who opt-in the ability to see who else is on the chosen flight. More than that, it also lets people see who will be on other flights before purchasing a ticket. I see professional sales reps around the world taking advantage of that one.
Somehow they do all of this without getting a passenger list from the airline. The airline’s website requests information from SeatID. When the user purchases the ticket the airline tells SeatID that the user is currently logged in and purchased a ticket, but it does not say who the user is. How SeatID figures all of that out, is part of its unique IP (patent pending). David Rachamim, CTO and co-founder, is the one who created all of the tricky stuff that makes SeatID work.
Eran Savir, the CEO and co-founder of SeatID, explained, “Our solution is cross-vendor and fits both airlines and travel websites. With our solution, users on flight A789 can see each other even if some of them purchased the ticket on the airline’s website and others on specialized ticket sites, as long as the specialized ticket sites are our customer.” He added, “We’re showing friends, friends of friends, people with shared interest and ‘everyone else’.”
Right now the only airlines offering something close are KLM and Malaysian Airlines. Malaysian Airlines has a Facebook application that allows users to go to Facebook, get the app, purchase a ticket on Facebook, and see where their Facebook friends are. Not on Facebook? No social seating for you on Malaysian Airlines! KLM shows who is sitting where on a seat map – similar to SeatID, but not the same.
My favorite bit about SeatID is that you don’t have to be on the same social network to see each other. I have a few friends (all in finance now that I think about it…) who are on LinkedIn, but won’t be on Facebook. Using Malaysian Airlines’ solution I wouldn’t be able to see my friends on a flight – they aren’t on Facebook (they also aren’t flying Malaysian, but I’m ignoring that while I make my point). With SeatID, various social networks are included. Of course, realistically my friends in finance would probably opt-out of the service because they are paranoid and hate the idea of being tracked (apparently marketers like myself are missing this gene, “Hey it’s social? You wanna track me? COOL! Where do I sign up?”)
SeatID has signed a deal with AeroSvit, Ukrainian Airlines. Which is useful for almost no one if we look at the grand scheme of things. But those going to the Ukraine will be psyched! I wouldn’t mind checking out Kiev.
You control the level of privacy you are comfortable with. Furthermore the service is opt-in only, so there’s no reason to be worried if you’ve done nothing. You’re not in the system unless you want to be.
Still, I think it’s worth it to be in the system. If only to avoid sitting next to That Guy.
Image: David McNew / Getty Images