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Hey there, you’re reading an outdated post! The updated series from April 2015 can be found here.

This is the seventeenth post in a monthlong series. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Today I’ll be explaining a tool I use every time I book a flight or research an award to ensure I get the best seat possible, Seatguru is an online compendium of airline seatmaps.

Along the left side of the site, you select your airline. If you click on an airline, every aircraft in its fleet will show up. If you click on one, you can see its seat map. The aircrafts are grouped by whether they are being used for longhaul or shorthaul trips and by class. For instance, at the bottom of the United page, you can compare its first class products on its longhaul planes.

I use seatguru in two ways. The first is to figure out the best product on an airline. For instance, if I know that I want to fly in US Airways first, I could look at the bottom of the US Air page and compare the first class product offered on various US Air planes. From comparing them, I learned to avoid the 757, which only has recliners, and to shoot for the A330-200, which has lie flat beds inside their own suites.

I would use this information when booking any paid or award ticket. When booking a ticket, the aircraft is always listed alongside each option. I would make sure if I were booking a business class ticket on US Air that the flight was operated by an A330-200.

The second way I use seatguru is to make sure I get the best seat within my class of service. I have an upcoming flight on a British Airways 777-200. When looking at the seatmap, note that some seats are color coded. Just like driving, green is good, and red is bad. Seatguru shades a seat green if it has more room than normal. It shades it yellow or red if the seat has a defect like a window seat that isn’t aligned with a window. Or a seat that is too near to a galley or toilet. Or the worst of all, coach seats that don’t recline.

From looking at the map and holding my cursor over the map, I chose seat 3E. It has tons of extra space, only one seat mate, and will be easy to enter and exit.

Seatguru is intuitive to use and is a wealth of information. From now on when booking or researching a flight, pull up the seat map and find out where the best seat for you is.