In Praise of Seat Guru

Seat Guru is one of the most indispensable travel sites that I have seen, yet the premise is so simple.

Seat Guru has information about the seat configuration of all the planes for most airlines.  Whenever I make a travel reservation and am ready to get my seat assignment, I have Seat Guru open to the plane that I’m taking and look for the seats I want.

Seat Guru is owned by Trip Advisor, a site which certainly will get its own Thursday post at some point in the future.

You may think you don’t need Seat Guru because an aisle is an aisle, and a window is a window.  You may think you don’t need Seat Guru because the web site of your travel agency or airline already has a seat map.  You may think you don’t need Seat Guru because you are flying Southwest and can’t reserve a seat.

Seat Guru's Seat Map for the American Airlines 777

Wrong on all counts.  Seat Guru gives you information that really helps you make an informed seat decision, even if you are flying Southwest or any other airline that doesn’t provide pre-assigned seats.

The seats are colored yellow or red if there are potential problems from limited recline, to limited space under the seat, to a misaligned window and noise from the bathroom.  They are colored green if they are particularly nice for privacy or view or extra leg room.  Just by holding your mouse of the seat, you can learn what the plus or the minus is.

The seat maps also show where the galleys, bathrooms, and emergency exits are and where each cabin begins and ends.

The seat maps show the row number and letter number of each seat.  Airplanes routinely skip row numbers and skip letters in the seats from left to right.  I pulled up the seat map for an American Airlines 777 and added it to this post as a great example.  You will see that first class is rows 1-4, business class is rows 8-13, and coach is rows 20-44.  First class seats from left to right are A, D, G, J, and business class seats across are A, B, D, E, G, H, J.  You need the maps to know that in coach the aisles are C, D, G, and H, and to avoid E at all cost, as it is the middle of 5 seats.  You also need the maps to know that row 43 is the last row, has limited leg room and should be avoided.

Seat Guru also provides you other information about every airplane. Does it have a video or audio system?  Does it have electrical outlets at each seat, and do you need adapters to use the power?  How much does each seat recline?  How wide is each seat and what is the distance between rows (“the pitch”)?  If you are choosing between airlines and are looking for comfort, Seat Guru has a comparison table for each class of service, so you can see which seats are best.

As you peruse Seat Guru, you will learn that an aisle is definitely not an aisle.  Some aisles, such as the coach aisles on the American 777, have one person that would have to climb over you to get out.  Others on other planes have two.  When I’ve flown business class to Asia on a Continental 777, I make sure I get an aisle in the center of the plane, so no one has to climb over me when I’m sleeping.

You will learn that a window is not a window.  Some windows, in fact, have no window and are colored red on Seat Guru’s seat maps.

You will see that the seat maps on airline or travel agency web sites are not nearly as helpful, for they provide no extra commentary about the seats.

And, even you are flying Southwest, I recommend looking at the seat maps to know which seats are best and possibly make plans to go after specific rows.  For example, the maps show that seats in rows 1-3 are thinner have have less storage.  Row 10 doesn’t recline.  Seats 11D and 11E also don’t recline, but are two seats together in a row, and may seem nicer.    The exit row with extra space is row 11, but only on the right hand side as you walk back.  This is all information good to know before you board.

Bottom line is that this a great site.  Next time you travel, go to Seat Guru, enter your airline and flight number and make a good seat decision.

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Even Spidey Can Be Delayed When Traveling to Newark

I’m writing this morning from the President’s Club Lounge in Terminal C at Newark Airport.  I first tried to get to Newark on Sunday night, gave up, and returned last night (Thursday), only to encounter more delays.  My 10:40 arrival quickly became 12:10am over the course of the day.  Thank goodness, however, that I left St. Louis last night, because the flight in from St. Louis this morning is also delayed, and I almost certainly would have missed my flight to Shanghai.

All of this occurred after my adventures on Sunday, when I tried to leave St. Louis for Singapore, connecting through Newark.  In the end, I gave up trying to get to Newark.  Flights were delayed beyond my connection and, since I didn’t want to fly to Newark late on Sunday and wait for an 11pm departure Monday  night, I went back home and reconfigured my trip to go directly to Shanghai today.

As I talked to colleagues, I heard things like “Newark is always a mess.  I never fly through there.”  This was followed by similar sentiments regarding Chicago and Dallas, Atlanta and Houston.  Is there really a place where you don’t encounter delays from time to time?  Snow in Chicago – wind in Dallas — rain in Newark.  Pick your poison and relax.  Nothing you can do.

So I started thinking, given my fascination (obsession?) with Spider Man, whether having Spidey’s superpowers would have made a difference this past week.  I thought for a while and couldn’t come up with a single one of Spiderman’s powers that would have helped.  Spidey doesn’t fly.  He can stick to an airplane as it flies, but he primarily moves by swinging on his web down the Manhattan streets.  I thought about all the comic books I’ve read and I have only some fleeting memories of Spidey outside the U.S.A. (not including space, of course).  To test this, I Googled “Spider Man Airplane” and “Spider Man Travel” and a few others.  I got nothing.

I’ve decided that, despite all his powers, Spider Man would have been delayed along side the rest of us getting to Newark.  However, he probably would have called Iron Man or the Fantastic Four to give him a lift.  Maybe Silver Surfer or Human Torch could have moved the storm fronts or pushed the airplanes a little faster to make up for those delays.  Great to have friends like that.

I did find the picture here of Spider Man climbing the Great Wall of China.  I wonder how he got there?