Perhaps you are familiar with Delta Airlines Ticket Counter Facebook app, which allows passengers to book flights from within the social network. But, if you’re like me, it can sometimes feel uncomfortable to be seated next to a complete stranger.

Malaysia Airlines, through a Facebook app called MHBuddy, takes that concern off the tray table by not only allowing passengers to book airfare, but arrange flights with friends in tow. In fact, the app lets passengers perform several useful functions:

  • Book flights with friends and check in directly on Facebook;
  • View the aircraft’s seating map and select a preferred seat upon check-in;
  • See the picture and seat number of friends traveling on the same flight;
  • Meet up with friends who will be in the same city where passengers are traveling;
  • Find friends who live in the destination city and let them know arrival times;
  • Share itineraries with your friends via their Facebook Wall.
Malaysia Airlines MHBuddy Facebok app

Put another way, the app makes use of social commerce to facilitate social seating. And Malaysia Airlines is not the only carrier to cater to the concept. According to CNN report, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will soon be launching its own version of the app.

If the following infographic is any indication, it appears that a number of major airlines have embraced social media wholeheartedly, and not for nothing. A recent post in Today Online quotes Morris Sim, CEO and co-founder of Circos Brand Karma, a social media solution for the travel industry, as saying, “There’s realisation at the highest level that social media isn’t child’s play…Brand reputation is on the line, literally every minute of the day, in social media, and when left unmanaged can have adverse effect on the value of the brand.”

For example, Virgin America and Jetblue award loyalty points for check-ins using Facebook or Foursquare, and British Airways created a Facebook Page for a global charity it supports. Of course, they all have Facebook Pages and use Twitter for social CRM.

Even though United felt a sting when the video “United Breaks Guitars” hit YouTube, the advent of social media – and MHBuddy, in particular – has given new meaning to the company’s famous tagline “Fly the Friendly Skies.”

Mashable Airlines Social Media infographic