There have been a few occasions when I haven’t checked which seats I’ve been allocated and have paid dearly for the oversight. I think I’ve experienced them all… a middle seat, a window seat without a window, a fixed seat that doesn’t recline, one with no under-seat storage space for my personal carry on, or a seat located right in the thick of where people gather for the washroom. Any one of these might be tolerable for short distances but they’re deadly on long-haul flights. Never fear, there are sites that help travellers find good airline seats well in advance of departure.
To the rescue – SeatGuru and SeatExpert
Both SeatGuru and SeatExpert are similar insofar as once a user inputs the name of the airline, flight number and date of the flight, a colour-coded seat map appears with information on which seats might be more or less desirable than others. With these handy resources, there’s no excuse for being stuck with a lousy seat.
SeatGuru – best in its class
SeatGuru’s impressive pedigree dates back to 2001 when it was developed by frequent traveller Matthew Daimler. In 2007, the company was acquired by TripAdvisor, and over the years has won many travel awards. Now firmly rooted in the travel industry, it has expanded to include TripAdvisor tools for booking flights. However, it’s best known as the “go to” destination of savvy airline travellers interested in obtaining decent seats. The release of the SeatGuru app in 2012 now allows iPhone and Android users to look up seat maps and book and track flights while on the move.
How it works
A search box allows visitors to locate their flight by airline, flight number and date.
Clicking the “View map” button reveals an icon-based colour-coded seat map of the flight in question. A quick first glance reveals “good,” “bad,” “be aware” and “mixed-review” seats by their colours. Other distinguishing symbols point out premium seats attracting an additional fee, and which seats have a power outlet. Also built into the map are locations of crew seats, emergency exits, galleys, bulkheads and washrooms.
On the same page as the seat map is a comprehensive seat map key, information on in-flight amenities, and reviews and photos posted by travellers.
With the cursor hovering over each seat, a pop-up box provides specific information on its attributes or deficiencies. This can be quite detailed to include particulars on types and location of tray tables, quirks concerning armrests, limitations with respect to the reclining capabilities of seats and information relating to power and TV.
From the seat map page, links connect to airline-specific information on check-in, baggage, unaccompanied minors, and travelling with infants or pets.
SeatGuru has a sortable comparison chart listing airlines in the SeatGuru database, along with the types of planes in each airline’s fleet. For each plane, the chart shows seat type, pitch and width, whether or not there’s laptop power (and which type), Wi-Fi, or a personal or shared TV (or none at all). This information is especially useful for a long-haul flight. A couple of inches or several centimetres of additional legroom can make a lot of difference. Having advance notice of no personal TV provides the “heads up” to pack a good book or load an electronic device with movies, music, books or work related files. Seats without power indicate an external power pack may be needed.
A little online research can go a long way to making informed decisions on choosing a satisfactory seat and making air travel as comfortable as possible. As the ultimate source of information on airplane seating, SeatGuru delivers.