If you aren’t familiar with the stand-up comedy work of Sebastian Maniscalco, I suggest you change that. In my opinion, he’s one of the funniest people on the planet. Sebastian and another great comedian, Pete Correale, put out a weekly podcast titled ‘The Pete and Sebastian Show’. It’s always one of the highlights of my week. They both have a unique ability to turn even the most mundane topics into a solid hour of entertainment. Definitely check it out in iTunes.
This week was their 20th episode, and in my opinion, the best one yet. They talked about life on the road and offered some hilarious stories about things/people they’ve encountered in airports and in the air. A highlight for me starts at the 5:10-mark of the podcast, where Sebastian talks in detail about witnessing a guy in the seat in front of him completely lose his lunch during a flight.
While there were many great moments throughout this episode, one gem in particular came at the 1:01:01-mark. Sebastian was talking about how it never fails: when you go to take your seat on the plane, the person seated next to you is always an “utter catastrophe”. Whether that means your flight neighbor is morbidly obese, smells like they haven’t bathed in a week, whatever the case may be: you’re stuck next to them and there’s nothing you can do about it. The idea that Sebastian proposed next transcended comedy and went straight into sheer brilliance.
The essence of Sebastian’s idea was that there should be some sort of social network for frequent travelers. Every traveler would have their own personal passenger profile, complete with a photo, general background information, etc. There would be a ratings system within this network where your fellow travelers could grade you based on how good or bad of a co-traveler you were on a given flight (think eBay’s feedback system). If you were pleasant to sit next to, held good conversation (or avoided small talk altogether if the situation warranted it), 4.5 out of 5 stars coming your way. If you had horrendous breath, talked nonstop, threw up while in flight, etc., prepare to be hammered with 1.5 out of 5 stars.
Sebastian took his idea a step further in suggesting that this social network be built into the online ticket-buying process. [UPDATE: It has come to my attention that it was PETE who came up with the ticket pricing idea. My fault for mistakenly crediting Sebastian. Well done, Pete!] When you go to select your seat on the online plane seating chart, you could hover over seats that have already been purchased and check out who you’d be sitting next to. Open seats next to travelers with high approval ratings would be more expensive than seats next to those with low ratings. Want a seat next to the attractive woman who holds pleasant conversation? That’ll cost you. Want to take one for the team and sit next to the guy with the prostate issue who has to leave his seat a dozen times? You’ll save a few bucks.
The passenger profiles might look something like this (click to enlarge):
While security/safety issues would certainly keep something like this from ever happening, it was one of those ideas where a light bulb went off in my head the moment I heard it. So kudos to you, Sebastian Maniscalco. Keep the laughs (and moments of pure genius) coming.