Book the Best Airline Seat
SeatGuru.com was created to help fliers recognize and understand the differences between airline seats and in-flight amenities. The below guide provides tips to help you secure the best seat on your flight.
Research the options before you book.
There are several tools available to help the airline traveler make informed booking decisions. In addition to providing a list of flight options, most booking engines also provide the aircraft each airline will be flying and what seats are still available for each flight. Taking a few extra minutes to examine all this information can have a significant impact on your travel.
- Look beyond price. While the cost of a plane ticket is certainly important, considering only this factor when booking may cause you to miss out on a better travel experience. While buying a cheaper ticket will save you money, it might cost you a more enjoyable journey with a better entertainment system, a power port, or even a better seat. It's also important to remember that many airlines have started charging for extras, including checked luggage, preferred seating, early check-in, and more. Once you factor in the cost of those additional items, the cheapest flight may be much more expensive.
- Compare the G-Factor for each available flight. You can now search for flights from within SeatGuru, and for each flight option we'll show you the Guru Factor, or G-Factor. We've examined the key elements that can affect your comfort on a flight — including legroom, service and in-flight entertainment — and then rated the flight using a three-point scale: Love It, Like It or Live With It. The G-Factor takes the guess-work out of determining how comfortable you'll be on a flight.
- Compare seat pitch and width dimensions. Seat pitch (the distance from a point on one seat to the exact same point on the seat in front or behind that seat) and width (the distance from armrest to armrest) can vary greatly between airline carriers and aircraft type. While one or two extra inches of pitch may not seem significant, it can make a huge difference in terms of comfort and productivity. It usually means your knees won't be touching the seat back in front of you and you'll be able to fully open your laptop screen. When you're comparing flights, be sure to check out SeatGuru's sortable Comparison Charts to help you identify the differences between seat pitch and width. Select the Comparison Charts section from the left-hand menu system and choose the chart that corresponds to the class of service you'll be flying. If you don't know what type of aircraft you'll be flying, SeatGuru can help you find the type of aircraft and seat map for a particular flight.
- Compare in-flight amenities. Having a personal video screen or power port to plug in your laptop or DVD player can make any trip more enjoyable. It can help you relax, entertain the kids, and help business travelers stay productive. Airline carriers offer very different types of amenities, especially for international travel. When you're comparing flights, be sure to check out SeatGuru's sortable Comparison Charts to help you identify the differences in in-flight amenities. Select the Comparison Charts section from the left-hand menu and choose the chart that corresponds to the class of service you'll be flying.
- Compare seat availability. Most major booking engines allow you to view Seat Availability for flights before you even select them for your itinerary. Be sure to look at these availability maps and compare them to corresponding seat map for that airline and aircraft on SeatGuru.com. If the only seats that are available are Red seats, or bad seats, on the SeatGuru seat map, it may be worth booking a different flight.
Select a seat at time of booking.
To get a preferred seat on a plane, it is extremely important to select your seat as early as possible. Most booking engines and airlines allow you to select your seat at time of purchase. Select the best available seat by comparing the airline or booking engine seat map to the corresponding seat map on SeatGuru. Even if your first choice seat is not available, select another option to ensure you have a seat assignment; it can usually be changed later.
If seat selection is not available when booking online, call the airline directly.
Time is the most important factor here, so call the airline immediately after you have completed your online booking to make your seat selection with a phone agent. Again, if your first choice seat is not available, select another seat and attempt to change it at a later date.
Confirm your seat assignment the week you are flying.
Airlines sometimes switch the aircraft type close to the departure date due to load factors and maintenance. When these changes are made, pre-reserved seats are re-assigned and you could lose the seat you so carefully selected. In addition, airlines will often release seats that were previously not available for assignment. If you continue to check back on your flight and aircraft type you'll increase your chances of keeping the seat you want, and perhaps even grab a better seat when one becomes available.
Many airlines only allow exit rows and bulkhead seats to be booked on the day of flight. Using online check-in, you can secure a better seat without having to arrive at the airport hours and hours before your flight. You can even check-in online if you have bags to check! For more information about online check-in, select the Check-In tab at the top of the Airline's General Information page on SeatGuru.com.
Request a seat when upgrades are being processed at the gate.
If the business and first class cabins are not full on your flight, the gate agents will upgrade passengers who are on the upgrade list. Often, the passengers who are upgrading have elite status or are full-fare passengers. The economy seats these passengers are leaving behind are often preferred seats. If you politely inquire with the gate agent about their availability, you may have the opportunity to change your seat assignment to one of these newly available seats.
Consider obtaining elite status on an airline.
Airlines often allow their customers with elite status to pre-book preferred seats, enabling exit row and bulkhead seating to be secured well in advance of the day of the flight. If you think you'll be flying enough miles in a given year to qualify for elite status, it may be worthwhile to only book with one airline. Follow the Mileage Program links on each SeatGuru general airline page to find out the status requirements for each airline.