Most people are quite adept at finding the lowest possible airfare. As a matter of fact, I think that almost everyone on any given flight will tell you that THEY paid the lowest airfare for this particular flight. Travelers seem to put much more importance on price than on any other of the factors that can make a flight enjoyable, bearable, or simply hellish.
This emphasis on price is, of course, normal and to be expected. But did you know that after having found the absolutely cheapest flight, there is still one thing you can do, without paying extra, that could make the difference between having a comfortable or a painful flight? I’m referring to seat selection.
Not too long ago I found myself flying domestically on United and since it was a rather long flight I decided to spring for their Economy Plus cabin which is advertised as bigger, more comfortable seats. I am very familiar with the type of aircraft to be used on this flight, the Boeing 757, so without hesitation I picked seat 7D, the first seat after First Class, on the right-hand side of the aircraft. A seat I have flown on many times on European routes and know to be comfortable.
Well, I was wrong! Seat 7D must have been the most awful seat on that entire flight. There was little room to stretch my legs, there was an equipment box under my seat, and people used the little space I had to “hang out” waiting for their turn in the lavatory or to just chat with each other. One fellow passenger even tried to use my left armrest as a seat! I was upset at having paid the extra money for Economy Plus and ending up with such a bad seat. Awful!
So what went wrong with my seat selection? I had incorrectly assumed that one United Boeing 757 is equal to all other United Boeing 757’s. United operates 4 versions of this aircraft and if I had taken the time to research this particular flight on Seatguru.com, I would immediately have seen that 7D is indeed the worst seat on this particular plane.
Seatguru.com has become indispensible for me when planning a flight and for deciding between which flights to book. This website (also available as IOS and Android apps) allows travelers to find a particular flight by flight number, airline, or departure and destination cities. The website will then show you a comprehensive seat map of the EXACT type of aircraft used for that flight. Seats on this map are color-coded for comfort and factors such as thickness of seat cushions, restricted legroom, restricted recline, availability of in-seat power and proximity to lavatories are all discussed.
Seatguru.com will also show you the pitch and width of the seats in each class of service and information regarding in-flight amenities such as food, internet availability, and entertainment system is also available. You can read seat reviews from fellow travelers or you can post your own review.
All savvy frequent travelers I know use this tool to pick the best seat on any airline/aircraft combination. And if everybody on a given flight has paid the lowest price possible, seat comfort (within a given class of service) is the only differentiator left.