This is neat:
Hoping to ease the nightmare of flying next to a crashing bore, a company in New York will match like-minded passengers to help make the time fly.
Inspired by a flight where he found himself happily seated next to Miss Texas, company founder Peter Shankman says he set up AirTroductions to give travellers a chance to choose their seatmates.
"It is for anyone who travels who does not want to have to deal with the psychological hell of sitting 2 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 $5 (3 pounds) fee. Typically, they meet in an airport, where they can arrange to sit together, Shankman said. Nearly 4,500 people have enrolled, although only about 60 have made matches since the registry kicked off last fall, he said.
Julia Filz said she signed up because she's a nervous flyer who wants a seatmate to distract her. "If I'm sitting next to somebody and I'm talking to them, I don't even know if we're taking off or landing," said Filz, who works in Baltimore.
Besides, she added, the system might help avoid a repeat of her worst seatmate experience -- seated beside a woman who was very drunk first thing in the morning.
Randy Petersen, editor of InsideFlyer magazine, said he was not sure the idea would fly. Having a good seat trumps chatting with a stranger, he bets.
"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," he said.
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 said.
While it's designed for networking, a fair share of the people registered with AirTroductions admit they're looking for dates. Some appear more promising than others.
One man provided his photo, with half his hair shocking pink and the other bright blue. One woman promised she "always smells nice," while another insisted that any seatmate wear full body deodorant spray.
A photographer said he was looking for investors, an executive said he was seeking "engaging conversations" about globalisation and technology and a rabbi said he would like to "schmooze about Judaism."
One woman from Seattle gave a description that could render her either the best -- or worst -- seatmate ever. "I'm that person whose laugh you'll hear over everyone else's: some call it infectious, others just loud," she wrote.
In Petersen's view, most passengers prefer travelling alone, playing video games on laptops while tuning into music on headphones. But even the most misanthropic traveller can find happiness in AirTroductions, Shankman said.
The system allows passengers to note if what they really desire is a seatmate who will leave them alone, he said.