By Ken Hegan for MSN Travel
When you’re on a plane, do you like to sit beside people who look and talk just like you, and share the exact same interests?
Then you’ll love airBaltic’s SeatBuddy service. Launched last year, it’s the budget airline’s free service that pairs passengers with similar moods, interests, culture, careers, and disabilities.
It’s like using eHarmony to find an identical stranger to fight over your armrest on your next flight out of Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia on “one of most punctual airlines in Europe!” [sic]
Here’s how SeatBuddy works:
When you click on airBaltic’s SeatBuddy page, it asks you what type of traveller you are, private or sociable.
Do you like to WORK or RELAX? If so, that’s like hanging a Do Not Disturb sign from your nose. But if you’re feeling social, you can pick ‘EASY CHAT’ or ‘BUSINESS TALK’ if you like to wear suits and exchange cards or swap identities.
2) Imagine your Ideal Neighbour
Does he/she belong to your generation, speak your language(s), or have a similar career, education, hobbies, or culture?
Pick ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘whatever’ if you’re a spoiled teenager.
3) What’s your meal preference?
If you’re lacto ovo vegetarian, SeatBuddy will sit you next to other people just like you who refuse to eat animals but enjoy stealing their eggs and breast milk.
4) Do you have any special needs?
Are you a young mom seeking same? Do you want to sit beside your pregnant doppelgänger? If you want your Emotional Support Horse to travel beside an Emotional Support Monkey, you can ask for that, too.
Once you’ve entered all these details — and your airBaltic Frequent Flyer number — SeatBuddy’s SATISFLY computer crunches your data, and then seats you with your human replica. Or imagine if you get to sit with TWO of your human replicas. They might take one look at you, then chant, “We accept her! We accept her! One of us! One of us!”
What do you think…would you enjoy sitting beside your mirror image, or would you prefer to keep thinking of yourself as a unique and special snowflake?
— Ken Hegan
Photos via airBaltic and Ken’s sister