Choosing your seat on a plane is a decision you want to get right. Nobody wants to arrive at what they thought was a great window seat, only to find an in-flight entertainment box taking up half their legroom.
That scenario can be made even worse by the high prices that some airlines insist on charging passengers in order to pre-select a seat before check-in.
Take British Airways (BA) as an example. A passenger without BA elite status can book a £5,000 flexible business class ticket to Los Angeles and still have to pay up to £100+ per person to choose a seat before online check-in. Similarly, a family of four might score a fantastic flights bargain only to find that they have to pay £20-£70 per person if they want to ensure they’ll be sat together.
If you do choose to pay those prices, you’ll want to be absolutely sure that seat will offer the legroom, privacy or quiet you were 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 websites for information:
I searched each of the above websites for seating info about a British Airways Boeing 777-300 (four class) aircraft.
|Seat Expert||SeatGuru||Seat Maestro|
|Photos||Generic cabin images||Yes, but supplied by contributors so not comprehensive.||x|
|Search by route/flight number||x||✓||✓|
|‘Hover over seat’||✓||✓||x|
|Comments||Clean layout, but in serious need of an update to include current planes.||Clean layout, helpful sections for each airline with check-in, baggage and infants info.||Reviews can provide helpful feedback. Decent layout.|
- Latest planes – Do they feature information on the most recently introduced aircraft such as the Airbus A350 or the Boeing 787-10.
- 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 badly in need of an update. In fact, it doesn’t appear to have been updated at all since I reviewed it in February 2018. Planes such as the A380 are hardly new, so it’s a real let-down 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’. They offer a pretty comprehensive selection of airlines and aircraft including Emirates’ reconfigured 777-300 planes complete with new First Class and the Qatar Airways QSuite.
There are also various useful sections with detailed info on check-in procedures, baggage policies, infants, minors and pets. It varies by airline, but they also have a decent mix of reader reviews and comments.
It falls short of SeatGuru (see below) in terms of the layout and feel of the site which I found to be a bit cluttered. The results page after searching by route was particularly dense.
SeatGuru featured the very latest planes and seat maps. This included, for example, Singapore Airlines’ revamped A380 First Class cabin as well as brand-new aircraft such as Virgin Atlantic’s new A350. Rather strangely the BA A350 (which, unlike the Virgin plane has actually been delivered) seat map has yet to be uploaded at the time of writing.
It also allows you to hover over an individual seat and read comments on it, as well as having an impressively uncluttered and easy-to-navigate setup. Details regarding the bassinet positions in Club World were missing but it did redeem itself somewhat by clearly highlighting their positioning 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.
SeatGuru is the clear winner here and remains my go-to site for seat information.
Do you have a favourite resource when choosing a seat?