KLM breaks language barriers to bring people together for Christmas

KLM’s Connecting Seats translate every language in real time, so people with different cultures, world views and languages can understand each other.


In this season of togetherness, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines gave travellers at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol an opportunity never seen before: to talk to every person in their own language. Together with advertising agency DDB & Tribal Amsterdam, KLM created ‘KLM’s Connecting Seats’: two seats that translate every language in real time. Just sit down, the seat recognises your language, and you’re ready to go!

Bringing people together for Christmas

Airports can be lonely places. Especially when you are travelling around Christmas time; a time for sharing, unity and togetherness. Natascha van Roode, Head of Global Marketing Communications KLM: “We are in the business of bringing people together all over the world and we always aim to offer our customers a memorable experience. After last year’s massively successful ‘Bonding Buffet’ event, we once again set out to accomplish both for travellers on the road. The Connecting Seats definitely did the job.”

The Connecting Seats did not only entice travellers to share personal anecdotes and Christmas wishes. Their curiosity yielded some warm and emotional chats in which participants exchanged their views on the world. Ultimately, travellers from over 30 different nationalities put their phones or books aside and opened up to each other.

The Connecting Seats event

KLM did not script anything for the Connecting Seats event. Marit Badia, Global Marketing Communications Manager KLM: “Having fully tested the technology, our main challenge was whether travellers where willing to open up and converse to one another. We completely relied on spontaneous responses from random travellers, which made it an audacious event. We were quickly positively surprised.”

The seats were specially designed for travellers on Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. After setting up the conversation by selecting their languages, it was not necessary to press any other buttons. With the use of Google Cloud's Speech API, Translation API and Web Speech API, the seat worked automatically.