European airlines turning to social networking sites

OK., they’re not exactly Facebook or Myspace, but social networking Web sites that European airline carriers have started in the past couple of years are driving new customers to them.

German airline Lufthansa last week launched its, a student-oriented site that allows members with valid college IDs to swap notes and tips about travel destinations and buy steeply discounted student tickets. That back-and-forth talk among members, of course, helps Lufthansa find out where younger people are most keen to travel.

Lufthansa is certainly not alone in turning to social networking.

KLM launched its KLM Club Africa and Club China about 18 months ago. This has a decidedly different membership category: Biz executives who are frequent fliers to Africa and China. KLM also has another club, called Flying Blue Golf, tailor made — so to speak — for golfers. They can post reports of their latest golf score and compare course notes.

SAS has established a Web site for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travelers — The site is mostly for travelers to Stockholm and Copenhagen and has information on the most gay-friendly restaurants, clubs and bars, along with interactive city guides.