Choosing your seat on a plane is an important decision. Nobody wants to select what they thought was a great window seat, only to end up with a bulky in-flight entertainment box blocking their legroom.
This situation is exacerbated by the sky-high prices that many airlines insist on charging passengers in order to pre-select a seat before check-in.
Take British Airways (BA) for example. A passenger without BA elite status can book a £5,000 business class ticket to Los Angeles and still have to pay up to £95 per person to choose a seat. Similarly, you might find a really cheap economy sale price to Johannesburg only to find that you have to pay anywhere up to £56 if you wish to pre-select a seat.
If for whatever reason you do choose to pay that price, you’ll want to be absolutely sure that seat will offer the legroom or privacy you’re hoping for.
Where to find the best information
I thought it would be beneficial to review some of the best ‘seat info’ tools available online and see how they compare against each other.
For this analysis, I looked at the following free sites:
I searched each of the above websites for seating info about a British Airways Boeing 777 aircraft.
(If you’re viewing this on a mobile you may have to zoom out to view this table).
|Seat Expert||SeatGuru||Seat Plans||Seat Maestro|
|Photos||Generic cabin images||Yes, but supplied by contributors so not comprehensive.||x||x|
|Ability to search by route/flight number||x||✓||x||✓|
|‘Hover over seat’ for info||✓||✓||x||x|
|Other features/comments||Clean layout, but in serious need of an update with latest plane types.||Clean layout, helpful sections for each airline with check-in, baggage and infants info.||Reviews can be helpful. Clunky layout.||Reviews can provide helpful feedback. Decent layout.|
- Latest planes – Do they feature information on the most recently introduced aircraft.
- Search by route/flight number – Some sites allow you to input details of a flight you are going to book/have booked and see which plane will operate that route.
- ‘Hover over seat’ – Allows you to move your mouse over a particular seat and view comments on it without clicking on it.
Seat Expert is clearly long-overdue an update. Given that planes such as the A380 were first flown by BA more than four years ago, it’s disappointing that seat information for this aircraft and others such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are still not available.
Seatmaestro has to settle for the title of ‘best of the rest’. It has a more sophisticated look than Seatplans and therefore just shades it as the better option. They both offer a decent mix of reader reviews and comments. If it is user reviews you are after I would recommend checking both of them.
SeatGuru is the clear winner here. Not only does it allow you to hover over an individual seat and read comments on it, it also has an impressively uncluttered and easy-to-navigate setup. While it was missing details regarding the bassinet positions in Club World, it did redeem itself by clearly highlighting where they are located in the World Traveller cabin.
The various sections with details of check-in procedures, baggage policies, infants, minors and pets are all helpful resources that add value to an already excellent service.
It is my go-to site for seat information.
Do you have a favourite method of choosing a seat?