Friday, September 19, 2008

Social Networking in the Sky - Yahoo! News

Airlines are edging into online social networking, giving air travelers an opportunity to share experiences and maybe score some discounted airfares. In return, the airlines are developing a marvelous new marketing tool.

Just this week, Lufthansa, the dominant German carrier, introduced what it says is the first-ever dedicated airline-sponsored social network for college students: allows duly enrolled student-members to compare notes on travel experiences and destinations and buy discounted student airfares on Lufthansa. Users must have current .edu e-mail addresses and present college IDs when they check-in at the airport for their flights.

Lufthansa's virtual lounge follows by 18 months KLM Royal Dutch Airlines' launch of online communities KLM Club Africa and Club China - which target road-warrior business executives who fly often to Africa and China - and Flying Blue Golf, which is aimed at duffers. This last social network is especially notable; it allows golfers to comment on their golf scores and courses they have played, use KLM frequent flyer points to buy golfing equipment and, of course, book golfing trips on KLM.

Recently, Scandinavian Airlines moved to establish close ties with a high-profile, high-income demographic group by establishing a Web site dedicated to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender/transsexual community.

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