SeatGuru: How to Get the Best Seat on the Plane

Plus a Special Bonus Trick that I Love

Whether flying in economy, business, or first class, you want the best seat for the money you spend. Some seats—such as those near the bathrooms—you know to avoid choosing. But how can you know in advance which seats don’t recline or which have misaligned windows? On the other hand, how can you know which have extra leg room or AC power so that you can charge your device in flight? The answer is SeatGuru.

Exit row seats

I’ve used SeatGuru for many years to help me get the best seat for the money. In this post I will explain how SeatGuru works and show you how to use it to get a great seat on the plane.

What is SeatGuru?

Simply put, SeatGuru provides considerable detail about almost every seat on any aircraft you are likely to fly.

As an example, let’s say you will be flying on a Boeing 777-200 on American Airlines. (I’ll show you later how to determine what specific plane type will be used for your flight.)

You can view SeatGuru’s map of that specific plane here. Here’s SeatGuru’s display of the economy-class cabin for that aircraft:

Map showing good and bad seats

The seats shown in white are standard. The seats in green are good. Those half green and half yellow have mixed reviews. Those in yellow demand further consideration. And those in red are bad.

By hovering your mouse over any given seat, you can get more information about that seat.

Close-up Look at Seat 31a

Look, for instance, at seat 31a. I think most people who choose that seat while buying a ticket would assume it is a good seat as it is in an exit row. Certainly, I can’t imagine they would think it much worse than seat 32b next to it.

According to SeatGuru, however, 31a is a bad seat whereas 31b is a good seat. 31a gets a bad review because:

  • That seat is missing a window (which you would expect it to have).
  • The curvature of the exit door protrudes into your legroom.
  • Under-seat space is limited due to an entertainment system box.

This particular aircraft is used primarily on long-haul international routes. It would be disappointing to spend 8+ hours in a seat with limited legroom and no window, especially when you would have expected the opposite. It would be worse if you had to pay extra to “upgrade” to this seat due to its being in an exit row.

For the same money or possibly less you could choose a better seat. After 8+ hours of flying, you’ll probably thank yourself for having taken 2 minutes during the flight-booking process to pick a good seat.

Other Information SeatGuru Provides

In addition to the type of seat-related information mentioned above, SeatGuru will tell you:

  • Seat pitch: the distance between two rows of seats
  • Seat width: the distance between the armrests
  • Video type: personal TV, overhead TV, or none
  • Laptop power: which seats, if any, have it
  • Wi-Fi: whether the plane has it


How to Find the Seat Map for Your Flight

SeatGuru provides two easy ways to determine the specific kind of plane—and therefore seats—that will be used for your flight.

Using Flight #

If you know the flight number for your flight, you can enter it, along with the name of the airline and date of the flight, in the following search box on SeatGuru’s homepage:

Find seat maps by entering airline name, flight #, and date

When booking a flight, the flight number is always shown before you have to choose your seat. You may not have noticed it before, but if you pay attention you’ll see it.

If You Don’t Know Your Flight #

If, however, you don’t know your flight number, just click on the “I don’t know my flight number” link:

Highlighted "I don't know my flight number" link

You will then be able to find the SeatGuru seat map for your flight by entering the airline name, date, and “from” and “to” cities:

Find seat maps using airline name, date, and "from" and "to" cities


Some people never pay for seat upgrades. For them, SeatGuru can help get a great standard seat without having to pay extra.

Others do pay for seat upgrades. For them, SeatGuru can help ensure they maximize their upgrade.

So the next time you go to book a flight, take a quick look at the SeatGuru map for your flight just before choosing your seats. Your pocketbook may thank you. Your future self, sitting on the plane, definitely will.

Question: What is your favorite type of seat on a plane and why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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