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SeatGuru is a website with the sole purpose of helping you find the best available seat(s) on an airplane. By providing detailed seat maps of hundreds of airplanes the site highlights all the important information pertaining to any given seat on a plane, like whether or not it will recline as you attempt to enter vacation mode at 30,000 feet up.
In an effort maximize my seating arrangement on a future flight I tried the site out. I will be flying United Airlines on an award ticket from Columbia SC (CAE) to Traverse City (TVC) in August for my older brothers wedding. My husband and I are actually traveling together this time so I attempted to get us the best available seats (in coach) I could.
First I went into my United reservation and clicked on the seat adjustment option. This brought up a map of the plane I will be flying on with the option to choose our seats. Important note: this is when you need to obtain the correct flight number and aircraft configuration. In my case a United flight 5701 and the aircraft is an economy CRJ. In another browser I searched the flight on SeatGuru, plugging in my airline and flight number seat guru brought up a list of routes, I selected ours and it brought up a list showing the routes and the specific aircraft. We will be on a Canadair CRJ. Then on the left hand column of SeatGuru I searched by airline. This brings up a wonderful resource page with the airline links and phone numbers but most importantly towards the bottom all the aircraft’s and their seating information.
Here is where you need to make sure you are choosing the correct aircraft to avoid errors in seating charts. Our flight is on the Economy class United Airlines CanadaAir CRJ-200. Once selected SeatGuru does an amazing job of providing all kinds of information specific to this aircraft. Here an example of the write up on this particular plane from seatguru.com:
“This aircraft type is used for short, regional routes. United has begun using this aircraft on flights between 2-3 hours as well. On board this rather narrow aircraft type, there is no audio, video, or laptop power. Most window seats on this aircraft are misaligned meaning that passengers will need to lean backwards to look from the window. Large carry-on bags cannot be accommodated in the overhead compartments or under the seat. Maximum dimensions for overhead compartment is 18Lx14Wx7D. Luggage larger than this may be checked at the aircraft door. The aircraft is noisiest at the rear.”
The site then goes on to provide the seat pitch measurements which is basically the distance from one point on a seat to the exact same point on a seat in front of or behind it. It is kind of a measurement of your “legroom” or the “personal space” you have. Rule of thumb, the more seat pitch space the better.
Then you have seat width measurements and some general seat information such as total number of seats and if they recline. Our flights seat pitch is 30.0″, width is 17.0″, and there are only 50 seats on the plane. Below this the site provides amenities icons showing the amenities such as audio, video, ac power, Internet, food, and places for an infant bassinet. If you click on the amenities available for your flight the site provides additional information specific to your flight. Our flight, as your read above sounds pretty grim. The only amenity available will be food which will consist of a light snack (Peanuts or pretzels anyone?) and a drink.
Below this information is the seat map graphic. My example Flight on Seat Guru. The map includes a key with color-coded seats. In general Green is good, Yellow has some drawbacks, such as; limited overhead space, changes in the placement of the tray tables, or no armrests, and finally Red indicates a poor seat. Hovering over the seat will bring up a specific explanation of the seat, its drawbacks, or its perks. The map also highlights exit rows, blocked or standard seats, TV locations, power ports, closets, crew seats, lavatories, and the galley. You can also submit comments on any particular aircraft to aid other patrons in their pursuit of the perfect spot.
From what I learned on SeatGuru I was able to go back onto the United Airlines’ website and choose some decent seats for our flight.
From the Traveler Tips section I learned that bulk heads are separations among the plane that may divide classes or sections of the airplane. There are many reasons to want one of these seats. No one will be sitting in front of you reclining into your “seat pitch” space, or moving your tray table around spilling your drink. On some flights this actually provides extra leg room for you, or additional storage space if the bulkhead wall does not touch the floor. This info will be highlighted when you hover over these seats on a flight map. You also may actually have your personal television stored in your arm rest allowing for more personal adjustments
Anyone who participates in any sort of awards program should be a member. Go to AwardWallet.com and sign-up. Once you have an account you will spend most of your time under the My Balances tab. This area will hold all of your current awards programs. Click on add a new program and begin to load your awards programs. This area is divided up into eight categories; airlines, hotels, credit cards, shopping, rentals, dining, trains, and surveys. Chose one and it will allow you to search through all the brands they offer in alphabetical order. To the right it will tell you if you have added it to your account already. To add a new program, simply click the +add tab. At this point you will need your login information for the program. Plug it in and Awardwalletwill store the program into your account under my balances. I found the process quick, painless, and worth the time invested.
Awardwallet also allows you to look at all of your awards programs from one page. This page is simple and displays the program, your account number, current balances, and any expiration dates for the redemption of points you currently hold. When you’re working from this page, an added benefit is the ability to click on the program name and have it link you to their page; automatically logging you in.
Along the top column you’ll find a forums tab. This will link you to a few forums on general travel, travel deals, and awards programs. Next, a reviews tab allows you to search the awards programs and read reviews written by other members. I found this section underused. The FAQ tab is also very helpful. Awardwallet also provides contact information and a news tab where the site administrator makes announcements regarding new brands, changes to the site, and other important information for members.
Awardwallet.com is a must for any traveler, rookie or not, and setting it up early will make your lives much easier.
The Rookie, Shannon