airBaltic introduces intelligent seating with SeatBuddy, powered by Satisfly – the cabin gets social

Seated behind me on my flight from Johannesburg yesterday, there was a London-based businessman who was traveling to Uganda to source new export orders. Next to him was a person from UN who was traveling to Congo to help refugees. I learnt a lot more than just these facts about these two men, without even speaking with them once. They were both busy chatting with each other and I just wished I could move to another area of the flight to catch up on some sleep, since it was a red-eye flight. If only I flew airBaltic, my wish would have come true!

Intelligent Seating, airBaltic style

airBaltic passengers will soon be able to choose a flight “mood zone” to sit in-flight. Those who want to concentrate on work can choose “Work” and those who want to network can then choose the “Business Talk” zone. If you’re single and available, perhaps the “Easy chat” option would appeal to you.

Powered by Satisfly, whom we’ve featured previously, the intelligent seating feature being introduced by airBaltic is a quite different from KLM’s “Meet & Seat” since people need not connect their social media profiles. They can just choose a zone to sit in. Moreover, it gives the airline control on the zones they deem appropriate for their passengers. If passengers choose not to be disturbed, they will not receive the ice-breaking “meet your seat buddy” message prior to the flight. Of course, advanced users can choose to connect their social media profiles from LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook as well.

While airBaltic is not charging for this service as yet, there’s certainly a potential to drive ancillary revenues for airlines through this service, because frankly, many like me would pay a premium to be in a kid-free, quiet zone on a red-eye flight.

The potential to sync your zone preferences across airlines

Previously, KLM and Malaysia Airlines have introduced initiatives that allow a passenger to choose who to sit next too. But they’ve been limited because I can only do it when I fly that airline. But if I sign up for airBaltic’s SeatBuddy, it gives me the option to add other airline frequent flier programs I’m part of, so that my preferences can be saved the next time I fly any of my preferred airlines. Of course, the other airline also needs to be using the Satisfly-powered product.

From an airline perspective, this tool not only gets more members for their respective frequent flier programs, it also allows them to connect data from social networks to frequent flier data that they already have. Such integration has great potential for slicing-and-dicing of data to create personalized experiences for passengers on-board the aircraft. For example, if it’s a passenger’s birthday (which is visible on Facebook), perhaps he can receive a little gift after he boards the flight. Essentially, the airline can create tailored propositions and customize the experience along the travel cycle, before and after the flight itself.

It’s great to see the cabin becoming more social. From sitting next to your Facebook friends on KLM and Malaysia Airlines, to choosing zonal preferences on airBaltic, the connected traveler should soon find the in-flight experience much more humanizing. And I certainly won’t have to tell you stories about the UN worker and the businessman from London!

Disclosure: airBaltic is a SimpliFlying client. Read more about the work we’ve done with them here.

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is the Founder and CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s largest aviation marketing firms working with over 85 aviation clients in the last ten years. Nigam is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior executives globally, from Chile to China. Nigam’s impassioned and honest perspectives on airline marketing have found their way to over 100 leading media outlets, including the BBC, CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, and into leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He writes a dedicated monthly column in Flight’s Airline Business, challenging the typical assumptions about airline marketing. His new book on airline marketing, SOAR, is an Amazon bestseller that’s shaking up the industry and inspiring other industries to learn from the best airlines. Born in India, raised in Singapore, he now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Toronto.
Shashank Nigam
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