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Meet your fellow air passengers as airline launches Facebook-style networking site

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Written by editor

Air France-KLM has created a website that alerts frequent flyers if other subscribers are on the same flight, showing their name and personal profile.

Air France-KLM has created a website that alerts frequent flyers if other subscribers are on the same flight, showing their name and personal profile.

It encourages members to swap travel and restaurant tips and even share taxis to and from the airport.

A spokeswoman said the site was designed to appeal to a “new generation of customers who use social networking technology and expect us to do the same”.

She stressed that the site, bluenity.com, was optional and that data was only shared with consent. Anyone who is a member of the airline’s frequent flyer program, Flying Blue, can register to see if other subscribers are on upcoming flights or have tips and suggestions about their destination.

Tom Otley, editor in chief of Business Traveller magazine said the idea was “innovative” but would not appeal to everyone.

“There will be some who couldn’t imagine anything worse than meeting other travellers, especially on a flight where you could be next to someone for hours,” he said. “Others will embrace it as another important networking tool.”

Subscribers can contact each other and arrange to meet or say ‘hello’ during the flight, or they can ask not to be disturbed

The move follows the success of sites such as Tripadvisor on which travellers share advice, particularly on hotels.

However, Mr Otley added: “The popularity of internet forums is partly due to their anonymity. You can create a profile for yourself on Flyertalk or Tripadvisor without revealing your details and that helps create a climate of honesty in the reviews. Adding a social element can make that more difficult.”

The Air France-KLM spokeswoman said the site would allow customers to post opinions about the airline and its services. “We don’t want customers to take our word for it but to hear the opinions of other customers,” she said. “That is exactly what is happening in the internet already and we just want to show that we are part it.”

Air France-KLM Marketing director Patric Roux said he was expecting 300,000 users within a year after the launch, a figure that may be “modest” compared to the company’s 75 million passengers per year.