Apptitude: Will SeatGuru’s wisdom result in a more comfortable flight?

Going Out Guide blog editor May 10, 2014

Which seats are the best seats on the plane? Since airlines began charging for everything from a checked bag to a bag of peanuts, the answer is, “Whichever ones I don’t have to pay extra for.” Which puts SeatGuru in a bind — not unlike the passenger in the middle seat on a transatlantic flight.

SeatGuru has provided commercial cabin seat maps on its Web site since 2001, advising travelers which seats in the cabin to select (exit rows) or not select (non-reclining seats in front of exit rows) when booking a flight. SeatGuru’s mobile apps were released in 2012, about the time airlines realized there was money to be made on these prime seats. Want that aisle seat on the exit row that SeatGuru spotted for you? It’ll cost you.

Alex Baldinger is editor of the Going Out Guide blog, which covers food, drink, arts, music, events and other curiosities in the D.C. area. He is forever in search of a great sandwich. View Archive

And there’s the rub: No matter how savvy SeatGuru’s cabin maps may be, the only map that matters to me, as a regular flier, is the color-coded cost one on an airline’s booking page. An extra $25 to sit in the exit row? No, thanks; I’ll stay in the seat I’ve been randomly assigned.

You may want to follow SeatGuru’s wisdom and spend the extra money for a premium seat when booking a long-haul flight, but that makes SeatGuru much more useful as a desktop site than a mobile app. By the time you open your SeatGuru app as you check in at the airport — while balancing your carryon bag, passport, confirmation number and anything else you’re traveling with — the best seats on the plane are likely already occupied. It’s not worth the trouble.

The SeatGuru app offers several other functions, including the ability to check flight statuses. There’s no way to save a flight, however, so you have to enter the airline, flight number and departure date every time you want an update. On one trip, SeatGuru indicated my flight would depart 38 minutes late, which was news to the airline’s gate agents. The flight took off about 15 minutes late, but pushed back from the gate as scheduled. The threat of scurrying aboard a not-actually-delayed flight gave me pause about trusting this part of the app.


(Jon Larson)

SeatGuru’s seat maps would be a nice bonus as an additional feature in a more versatile travel app. It’s no at-the-airport replacement for apps such as FlightTrack or TripIt, which manage such details as confirmation numbers and travel distances, as well as last-minute gate changes and in-flight maps.

As with all travel, it’s always best to pack light, and SeatGuru’s app feels like unnecessary baggage.

More Apptitude.

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Stats

NAME: SeatGuru

COST: Free

OPERATING SYSTEM: iOS, Android

CREATOR: TripAdvisor LLC

USER RATINGS: Apple (34 ratings), Google (1,232 ratings) ★

REVIEW’S BOTTOM LINE: “By the time you open your SeatGuru app as you check in at the airport ... the best seats on the plane are likely already occupied. It’s not worth the trouble.”

NEXT WEEK: Runtastic

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