Free First Class 2014: SeatGuru

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This is the twenty-second post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Today I’ll be explaining a tool I use every time I book a flight or research an award to ensure I get the best seat possible, seatguru.com. SeatGuru is an online compendium of airline seat maps.

Using SeatGuru can be the difference between picking an award routing with a fully flat bed in Business Class versus an angled lie flat seat. It can be the difference between sitting in privacy and sharing an elbow rest with a stranger.

Along the left top of the site, hold your cursor over Browse Airlines. Select from the list.

  • How do you use SeatGuru to snag the best flights and seats?
  • How do you select seats on awards?

If you click on an airline, every aircraft in its fleet will show up. If you click on one, you can see its seat map.

The aircrafts are grouped by whether they are narrow body (one aisle) or wide body (two aisles.) The latter tend to be used for the longhaul flights on which we are most interested in seat quality.

I use SeatGuru in three ways.

Figure Out the Best Product on a Given Airline

The first is to figure out the best product on an airline. For instance, if I know that I want to fly in US Airways Business Class, I could open US Airways three widebody jets’ pages and compare the business class product offered on various US Airways planes.

From comparing them, I learned to avoid the 757, which only has recliners, and to shoot for the A330-200, which has lie flat beds.

I would use this information when booking any paid or award ticket. When booking a ticket, the aircraft is always listed alongside each option. I would make sure if I were booking a business class ticket on US Airways that the flight was operated by an A330-200.

Get the Best Seat in the Cabin

The second way I use SeatGuru is to make sure I get the best seat within my class of service. I once flew a British Airways 777-200 in business class.

When looking at the seat map, note that some seats are color coded. Just like driving, green is good, and red is bad. SeatGuru shades a seat green if it has more room than normal or some other desirable feature.

SeatGuru shades a seat yellow or red if the seat has a defect like a window seat that isn’t aligned with a window or any seat that is too near to a galley or toilet. Or the worst of all, coach seats that don’t recline.

From looking at the map and holding my cursor over the map, I chose seat 2J. It had extra space, only one seat mate, and would be easy to enter and exit.

What Type of Seat Does a Plane Feature?

The third way I use SeatGuru is to figure out whether a business class seat is angled lie flat or truly lie flat. Hold your cursor over any seat for that info. A text box will pop up explaining whether the seat is fully flat like British Airways business.

Or whether a seat is angled lie flat like most of American Airlines business. (Of course SeatGuru would let you know that American’s 777-300ER feature fully flat business class.)

SeatGuru is intuitive to use and is a wealth of information. From now on when booking or researching a flight, pull up the seat map and find out where the best seat for you is.

Seat Selection on Awards

Once you have your ideal seats picked, you have to contact the operating carrier of each flight for a seat assignment.

If you are flying multiple carriers, this can be a tedious process.

There are some exceptions. Lufthansa seems to be able to make seat selections on most Star Alliance carriers, but most airlines can only assign you a seat on their own flights.

Look up an airline’s contact number on google, call the airline and give your confirmation number (or flight number and name), and politely ask for your top choice from SeatGuru. Have back up seats in mind if your top choice is occupied.



Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I love SeatGuru. Always a good idea to look at the user comments and photos, too, as they sometimes offer advice that the red-yellow-green symbols don’t cover. For example, on a recent United GlobalFirst flight Chicago to Brussels on a 777-200 (on which I was lucky enough to score two Saver awards 330 days out!), the lay flats were wonderful–except 1C, my seat, which directly looked into the part of the galley space that had no curtain and bright lights. Still, tons on storage room in those seats.

  2. Great post! Thank you!! I have been using Seatguru for a few years and this post has taught me more in two minutes than what I learned in two years!

  3. Seatplans and Seatexpert are two good backup sites if the airline you are looking for isn’t available on Seatguru. Always have a back up in mind, I have turned up to fully-flat seats only to find the audio only the entertainment system doesn’t work, or the seat mechanism for reclining was broken.

  4. […] You can check the aircraft type by clicking the View Available Seats link (on the flight schedule results page when you click a specific day from the calendar), and comparing the flight map pop-up to the same flight map searched on SeatGuru.com (Seatguru differentiates between angle lie flat and fully lie flat beds, and the View Available Seat link shows you the seat layout). Here’s how to use SeatGuru. […]

  5. […] To give you context, I was searching for award space for two people in February, which is the peak tourism month in Brazil. I was also hunting for totally flat bed Business Class. American Airlines planes that fly between Buenos Aires and the United States feature flat bed Business Class. Check. The other carrier they could potentially book with their American Airlines miles, LATAM, also features a flat bed Business product. How do I know that? You can use seatguru.com to double check. […]

  6. […] You can check the aircraft type by clicking the View Available Seats link (on the flight schedule results page when you click a specific day from the calendar), and comparing the flight map pop-up to the same flight map searched on SeatGuru.com (Seatguru differentiates between angle lie flat and fully lie flat beds, and the View Available Seat link shows you the seat layout). Here’s how to use SeatGuru. […]

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