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Hey! You’re reading an outdated Free First Class Next Month series. Check out the latest version published in April of 2015 here.

This is the twenty-sixth post in a monthlong series that started here. 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. Previously Planning Awards with Wikipedia and Kayak.

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 top of the site, hold your cursor over Browse Airlines. Select from the list.

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 narrow body (one aisle) or wide body (two aisles.) The latter tend to be used for the longhaul flights on which we are most interested in seat quality.

I use seatguru in three 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 business, I could open US Airways three widebody jets’ pages and compare the business class product offered on various US Airways 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 had a flight on a British Airways 777-200 in business class.

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 2J. It has tons of extra space, only one seat mate, and will be easy to enter and exit.

The third way I use SeatGuru is to figure out whether a business class seat is angled lie flat or true lie flat. Hold your cursor over any seat for that info. A text box will pop up explaining whether the seat is fully flat like British Airways business:

Or whether a seat is angled lie flat like most of American Airlines business:

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.

I rarely actually use the process described in this post to bring up seat maps. An easier way is just to google “[airline] [plane mode] seat map.”

Continue to Using the Great Circle Mapper.

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