There’s always a bit of nervous anticipation as you approach your seat on an airplane- who will you be sitting next to for the next several hours? You could get lucky and end up sitting next to your future best friend, or you could end up sitting next to someone who hasn’t showered for days. It’s a toss-up that can make a multi-hour flight either enjoyable or horrific, and it’s something airlines are increasingly trying to experiment with– KLM’s ‘Meet & Seat’ and Air Malaysia’s ’MHBuddy’ programs both let passengers pick seat mates based on social information.
Why not try to ‘game’ the seating situation? An airplane does provide passengers with ample opportunity to connect– and with no wi-fi on most international flights, a chance for device-free, undivided attention. Instead of thinking of flying time as ‘dead time,’ flying becomes another chance to network. Or, as Air New Zealand hopes, a chance to find a soul mate.
Created in partnership with The Guardian’s ‘Blind Date’ section, Air New Zealand’s ‘Blind Gate’ promotion is a dating game for the skies. ‘Blind Gate’ promotes the airline’s route from London to Los Angeles and their unique ‘Cuddle Class’ offering, economy seating that folds into a 2-person ‘Skycouch.’ Applicants will be filtered through the Guardian, and on February 14th, 10 finalists will meet at Heathrow to play a compatibility game. Two winning couples, one gay and one straight, will immediately board a flight to London, at which point their ‘first date’ will commence.
The couples will be filmed in-the-air and on the ground for 3 days in Los Angeles, where they’ll spend the weekend ‘enjoy[ing] awesome experiences and challenges.’ The experience will be heavily promoted by both Air New Zealand and The Guardian; Air New Zealand hopes the unusual marketing tactic will bring greater awareness to the London to Los Angeles route, and The Guardian will use the material for their Weekend supplement.
Can an airplane be more than just a vehicle to get passengers from A to Z? Does this latest twist on social seating have potential? At the very least, one can only hope that the footage will make its way into another entertaining Air New Zealand safety video.