Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru
Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - What is SeatGuru and How Does it Work?
SeatGuru is a website that provides detailed information on airline seat maps, seat reviews, and tips for finding the best seats on planes. It has become an invaluable resource for savvy travelers looking to maximize their in-flight comfort and experience. But what exactly is SeatGuru, and how does this nifty tool work its magic?
In a nutshell, SeatGuru is a massive database that compiles information on specific seats across hundreds of different aircraft from various airlines. It provides graphics showing the exact layout of cabins and diagrams indicating where each seat is located. You can view at a glance which seats have extra legroom, where the bathrooms and galleys are situated, whether seats recline, and other key details.
The key feature that sets SeatGuru apart is its color-coded system for ranking seats. Each seat is given a color indicating how desirable it is, based on feedback from thousands of travelers:
By clicking on an individual seat, you'll find specifics on the width, pitch, proximity to lavatories, absence of windows, presence of entertainment equipment, and other fine points. Travelers who have sat in that seat before provide reviews highlighting the pros and cons. It's an invaluable sneak peek at exactly what you'll experience once on board.
You can even enter your flight number to pull up the aircraft model and layout for that exact trip. This makes it easy to strategize how to get the best seat possible, whether booking directly through the airline or using your favorite travel app.
The information is continually updated, so you'll get a real-time look at aircraft layouts and seat quality. SeatGuru draws data from its global team of editors, contributors, and feedback from people who have traveled in those seats before.
What else is in this post?
- Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - What is SeatGuru and How Does it Work?
- Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - The Ins and Outs of Seat Dimensions
- Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Exit Row Seats: The Pros and Cons
- Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Bulkhead Seats: Not Always the Best Option
- Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - How to Avoid Uncomfortable Seat Features
- Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Using SeatGuru to Get the Most Legroom
- Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Picking Seats to Avoid Flight Disruptions
- Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Tips for Using SeatGuru to Your Advantage
Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - The Ins and Outs of Seat Dimensions
When it comes to airplane seats, size matters. Understanding the nuances of seat dimensions can make all the difference in determining which seats will leave you feeling cramped and uncomfortable. Seat width, known as seat "pitch", is one of the most important factors. This refers to the distance between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front of it. Seat pitch ranges from around 29 to 35 inches for standard economy seats. Exit rows and bulkhead typically offer the most legroom with 35 inches or more of pitch.
You'll also want to look at seat width, which can range from 16 to 22 inches between armrests depending on the aircraft. Again, exit row and bulkhead seats tend to be wider. However, the caveat is that exit row seats often don't recline and bulkhead seats may have restricted legroom due to the wall in front. It's all about tradeoffs.
When researching your seat dimensions on SeatGuru, be aware that airlines sometimes fudge the numbers to make seats seem more spacious than they really are. It's best to add an inch or two to the listed width and pitch just to get a more accurate feel for the tight squeeze you may experience. Tall travelers over 6 feet should especially take note of cramped seat dimensions to avoid being folded into a pretzel during long flights.
In premium cabins, you'll be treated to substantially increased width and pitch. For example, premium economy may offer around 19 inches width and 36 inches pitch. Business class seats are even more indulgent with lie-flat beds and width over 20 inches in many cases. But you'll pay for the pampering through higher fares.
Don't assume all airplane seats in the same class are created equal in size, even on the same aircraft. Due to the curve of the fuselage, seats at the back of the plane and in certain rows or columns will have slightly diminished width. SeatGuru's color-coded maps make it easy to pinpoint the most constricted seats to avoid.
When it comes to families, understanding seat dimensions is especially critical. You'll want to find seats that don't require climbing over strangers to access the bathroom. Reclining abilities also impact the experience of those seated behind you. And don't assume your child's safety seat will fit in an airline seat - always check dimensions first.
In the battle for elbow room, choosing a window seat gives you one less person to infringe on your precious personal space. Just be aware that window seats may have cramped foot space due to the curvature of the plane. If you're tall or broad-shouldered, an aisle seat may be the way to go.
Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Exit Row Seats: The Pros and Cons
Scoring an exit row seat can feel like winning the jackpot, with the holy grail of legroom beckoning temptingly. But before you get too excited about that azure ocean of space, it's wise to weigh the pros and cons. Exit row seats giveth, but they also taketh away.
First, what's so great about exit rows? The defining feature is the increased legroom, generally around 35 inches of pitch compared to a cramped 30 inches in regular economy. We're talking an entire laptop of gloriously unobstructed space to stretch out those gangly gams. Exit rows are also wider since they have just two seats per row rather than three. For tall or broad-shouldered travelers, this can make a huge difference in comfort, especially on lengthy flights.
Another major perk is that exit row seats often come with unlimited recline ability. Say goodbye to the kneecap massage from the person who insistently slams their seat back every five minutes. With no seat in front of you, recline to your heart's content and get your beauty rest. Exit rows also provide easy bathroom access without climbing over strangers, which is a major plus.
Now for the downsides. That cavernous legroom comes at a cost – exit row seats universally do not recline. So you gain wiggle room but lose the ability to snooze comfortably. This can be a tough tradeoff on red-eye flights. Exit rows also lack storage space in the seatback in front of you, so your laptop has nowhere to go but your lap. Say goodbye to watching movies on it hands-free.
Many exit row seats don't align with windows, so forget gazing dreamily at clouds or snapping pics of stunning vistas. Claustrophobes may feel trapped without their Outside peek. Exit rows are also cold real estate, directly exposed to chilly air from the doors and galley. Definitely pack a sweater.
Don't assume exit rows have more amenities either. In fact, they often lack USB ports or AC power outlets other seats may offer. And the bigger bummer: many airlines now charge extra fees to book exit row seats, even in economy. We're talking up to $150 each way, wiping out much of the savings from that super-cheap ticket you scored.
Booking an exit row also comes with responsibilities which some travelers may not want. Passengers must be over age 15, able-bodied and willing to assist with opening doors in the (unlikely) event of an emergency. If you don't meet these requirements, exit row seating can actually be downright dangerous.
Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Bulkhead Seats: Not Always the Best Option
At first glance, scoring a bulkhead seat can seem like a major win. With no seat directly in front of you, that legroom looks oh-so-tempting. But before you get too excited about the extra breathing room, it pays to look before you book. Bulkhead seats come with some distinct disadvantages that can seriously diminish the in-flight experience for many travelers.
While bulkheads do offer extra legroom, it's often much less than exit row seats. We're talking just 31-32 inches of pitch compared to a glorious 35+ inches in exit rows. And that "extra" room can be deceiving. Bulkhead walls frequently have intrusive metal brackets or housing for entertainment screens that can further constrict the space. Trying to stretch your legs out straight can be an exercise in frustration.
Storage space is virtually nonexistent in bulkhead seats since there's no seatback in front of you. Your laptop, water bottle or magazines end up on your lap or jammed under the seat, limiting your ability to work or relax comfortably. Trying to juggle your stuff while seated is a losing battle. And good luck finding a place to rest your head if you want to nap. That window will have to do.
Many bulkhead seats also lack tray tables, or have fold-out trays that are tiny and wobbly. Forget balancing your drink and snacks in flight – you'll be stuck holding them in your hands or your lap. And changing a baby's diaper on a teensy pull-down shelf? No way. Parents may want to steer clear of bulkhead seats for this reason alone.
Entertainment is often lacking or poorly positioned. Without a standard seatback screen, you may need to crane your neck at odd angles to see monitors further down the aisle. If the bulkhead is behind a wall, you may have zero entertainment options. And bring your own device, because power outlets can be scarce too.
Even worse, some airlines have begun installing entertainment boxes in bulkhead seat footwells. These large metal boxes house wiring and equipment but make stretching your legs virtually impossible. Nothing like a bit of metal crunching your shins to improve your flight!
While bulkhead seats offer the benefit of easy bathroom access, the downside is they are situated right next to galleys. That means smells wafting from the bathrooms and noise from carts and doors opening and closing. For light sleepers, bulkhead proximity can be disruptive and annoying.
In the battle for elbow room, bulkhead seats are often some of the narrowest on planes due to the flat wall next to you. And the tradeoff for extra legroom is often no recline ability too. So if snoozing in flight is important to you, bulkhead seats can mean being bolt upright for many uncomfortable hours.
Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - How to Avoid Uncomfortable Seat Features
The airplane seat you choose can literally make or break your in-flight experience. While a few inches may not seem like a big deal when booking, small seat features add up to huge discomfort over the many hours spent in transit. Avoiding the most painful seats can help you arrive refreshed and ready for adventure.
Seat pitch, width, and shape all impact comfort. Seats with limited recline abilities force you into an upright and rigid position that strains your back and legs. Narrow seats smash your hips and shoulders together so you are squeezed for hours in an unnatural posture. The famous 17 inch width is a true torture test for larger travelers.
Protrusions like metal boxes and braces poke into your footwell and can leave you with bruised legs or aching knees. These painful obstacles are common in bulkhead seats or exit rows. Entertainment equipment crammed under seats also limits legroom. You end up in a fetal position just to fit.
The curvature of the airplane can cause serious squeeze points. Seats at the very back or near the wing fold are narrower with highly angled and restrictive walls. Window seats in these areas put you in a literal triangle of pain.
Location is also key to avoiding discomfort. Sitting too close to bathrooms or galleys means odors, flushing noises and bumps from carts will disturb light sleepers. Crying babies, tapped on your nerves all flight long if you are stuck next to the bulkhead bassinets.
Look at online seat maps before booking to pinpoint seats with maximum comfort. Trust traveler reviews on sites like SeatGuru to expose problem seats. Avoid anything described as cramped, slippery, saggy, hard, or having limited recline. Seek out roomy, well-padded seats positioned away from footwell intrusions and noisy areas.
Premium cabins pamper with plush cushions, extensive recline, and extra side storage nooks. Look for business class “pods” that cocoon you in comfort or lay-flat seats ideal for sleeping. It is money well spent if you can afford it.
Don’t overlook the tray table size and position, which impacts your ability to comfortably work or eat. Avoid seats with no or tiny tray tables that force you into strange postures.
Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Using SeatGuru to Get the Most Legroom
Scoring a seat with ample legroom should be a top priority for any traveler, particularly on long haul flights. Nothing can ruin a trip faster than arriving with your knees jammed into your chin after being folded up in a cramped seat for endless hours. But not all seats are created equal when it comes to precious legroom. That's where SeatGuru comes to the rescue. This indispensable tool can help you land the most spacious seat for your body type and travel needs.
SeatGuru's color coded maps make it easy to zero in on the seats with the most wiggle room. Look for exit rows bathed in glorious red, indicating plentiful legroom. For Economy, seats with a 32 inch pitch or greater will prevent your knees from bumping the seat in front. Exit rows can have up to 40 inches between seats, which is practically paradise. But remember that exits rows don't recline, so pick carefully based on whether snoozing or stretching is more important.
Check SeatGuru's aircraft diagrams to find "Economy Plus" or "Preferred Seats" in the first few rows of Economy. These seats often have 2-4 inches extra legroom over regular seats and still recline. Well worth paying an upcharge for, if available. Bulkhead seats show up in blue on SeatGuru maps, but beware - the legroom advantage over regular seats is minimal on some aircraft. And walls or metal equipment can limit foot space.
If you need serious wiggle room, consider splurging on Premium Economy. These seats are shown in an elegant cream color on SeatGuru. The pitch runs 35 inches or more, and many seats have extendable leg and foot rests. You'll pay more, but your body will thank you after sleeping reclined instead of scrunched. Just avoid the front couple of rows where the bulkhead wall limits stretch-out space.
For long-legged travelers or those with knee issues, SeatGuru can help identify seats with the most pitch and foot room. Look at the actual pitch and width listed - don't just rely on the color coding, which is general guidance. Read user reviews to hear experiences from tall travelers. Pay more for the seat with those precious extra inches of space if needed.
Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Picking Seats to Avoid Flight Disruptions
No one wants their flight to be disrupted. But between weather delays, maintenance issues, and good old fashioned airline incompetence, things don’t always go as planned. The estimated 10,000 weather-related cancellations that plague the industry each year are out of your control. However, proactively picking the right seat when booking can help minimize disruptions and make the inevitable ones less painful.
First, avoid connecting flights when possible, especially with tight layovers under two hours. Every connection doubles your odds of a misstep messing up your journey. Budget airlines are notorious for skimping on turnaround time between flights. And smaller regional jets used for connections break down more often. Nonstop flights let you skip dicey connections and potential cascading delays.
If you must connect, tools like SeatGuru can help. Opt for seats near the front of Economy to deplane first and give yourself padding to make a tight connection. Being trapped in the back when there are only 30 minutes until your next flight can cause serious stress. And leave checked bags at home – lost luggage can doom even the best-planned connection.
For the flight itself, scrutinize the aircraft diagram. Sitting right by the lavatories or galley means disruptions from flushing, chatting flight attendants, and the bump of carts. For an infant, choose bulkhead seats so their crying disturbs fewer folks. But for adults, bulkhead proximity can make an already noisy flight even more disruptive.
Research enzymatic reviews carefully as well. Electrically faulty seats may have no power ports or entertainment. And seats tagged as inconveniently close to screaming babies or “chatty” seatmates can drive you bonkers on long flights. Pay a few bucks more for a sure thing seat if needed.
When delays happen, your seat location really matters. Exit rows let you dash off the plane to make a tight connection. But when stuck on board for hours, exit rows lack entertainment screens for distraction. Regular economy seats keep you entertained but can leave your legs throbbing without room to stretch.
If you end up delayed on the tarmac or at the gate, SeatGuru is invaluable to assess amenities. See which seats have in-seat power so you can fire up your laptop to work or watch movies. Locate the increasingly rare seats with USB ports to charge your devices instead of relying on overhead screens for entertainment.
For epic flight disruptions, don't discount good old fashioned chutzpah. Kindly requesting a free upgrade to business class if you get involuntarily rebooked can work if seats are available. Bonus legroom and lie-flat beds make even the worst delay almost tolerable. And elite status or airline credit cards can bump you to the front of rebooking lines, getting you back on your way faster.
Choose Your Destiny: How to Pick the Perfect Airplane Seat with SeatGuru - Tips for Using SeatGuru to Your Advantage
Knowledge is power when it comes to getting the most out of your flight experience, and few tools empower travelers with more useful intel than SeatGuru. Learning how to wield SeatGuru’s trove of insights will transform you from just another hapless passenger into a savvy in-flight warrior. Follow these tips to hack airline seatings like a pro:
The site’s color-coded maps are pure gold for pinpointing some of the best (and worst) seats on the plane at a glance. But don’t let the colors do all the thinking for you. Click on specific seats to get the nitty gritty details on dimensions, amenities, and user reviews that tell the real story. You may find “green” seats with rave reviews or discover “yellow” seats are perfect for your needs despite their generic “average” rating.
Cross-reference diagrams and reviews between multiple aircraft used by the same airline. Just because a seat is cramped on a Boeing 737 doesn’t mean it won’t be comfy on an Airbus A320. This extra step prevents you from unfairly blacklisting what could be a great seat option.
Compare similar seat types across different airlines as well. Big variances exist in quality and dimensions between brands. For example, United’s Economy Plus seats have as much as 5 inches more pitch than American’s Main Cabin Extra - a huge boost in legroom for long haul flights.
Trust but verify the dimensions listed. Inches stated by airlines are notoriously unreliable, sometimes making seats seem roomier. Add about 2 inches to pitch and 1 inch to width estimates to get a more realistic feel for the squeeze. That 32” pitch may feel more like 30”, so adjust expectations accordingly.
Take user reviews with a grain of salt. Some complaints are subjective or reflect bad attitude vs. actual seat flaws. But consistent red flags around space, padding, or functionality warrant heeding. Weigh both negative and positive commentary to get a balanced view before deciding to accept or avoid a seat.
Don’t fixate so much on picking “perfect” seats that you lose perspective on the goal of choosing any seat at all. A poorly located seat you reserved is better than getting stuck with the last bad leftovers. Utilize SeatGuru insights to narrow down top choices but make booking them a priority over agonizing for days.