Is the new SAA social feature slightly stalkerish?

Cape Town – It’s tough out there these days – whether you want to extend your circle of friends or simply find ‘the one,’ making meaningful connections with people isn’t as easy as it used to be. And as we all know desperate times call for desperate measures… hello, social media stalking! However, we’re not too sure how to feel about a new Social Check-In feature introduced by SAA. According to the airline’s website, they now give passengers the option of using a Social Seat Selector, which pulls in your Facebook details and helps you select who you want to sit next to on your following flight. Errrm… isn’t that a bit stalkerish? Or is that simply the way the world of social interaction is going? The feature is available for both local and international flights and can be made use of if you check in online between 24 and two hours before your flight. SAA has taken privacy into consideration, allowing passengers to share only as much information as they are comfortable with. Check out the SAA website for details on how to use Social Check-In.

Our national carrier is, however, not the first to bring a bit of social media fun (read creepiness) to the in-flight experience. KLM launched their Meet & Seat social check in feature back in 2012, which gave passengers the option to share either their LinkedIn or Facebook information with others. It had many people up in arms and was largely seen as an invasion of privacy. One comment on their Facebook page read: “Very weird. I totally vote on the creepy. Is the default to opt in or opt out? If I was traveling with my kids/teens or traveling on my own – all I think of is the creeps that would use this to stalk.” Virgin America were more bold and brazen with their intentions when they introduced a flirting service on their flights early last year. The mile-high flirting service allows travellers to send their on board crush a drink using the in-flight entertainment system.

Or, as Sir Richard Branson puts it, helps them get lucky. Finally, perhaps in the weirdest move of all, British Airways launched their ‘Know Me’ service back in 2012 in an effort to improve the customer service for their high profile flyers. The airline provided approximately 2 000 staff members with iPads to access the travel itinerary, complaint history, and a photo via Google Images of the VIP passenger. Despite their best intentions, the airline did receive some harsh criticism from privacy organizations and news agencies, who claimed that the program was inappropriately accessing travellers’ information.

This article was first published on News24:


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