Frequent and casual travelers have come to rely on industry seat map first mover SeatGuru for advice on avoiding bad seats on airplanes. But is there a SeatGuru alternative? In fact, there are several Seatguru competitors that also provide varying levels of airplane seat maps. We highlight the top competitors to Seatguru and pick the best SeatGuru alternative.
While SeatGuru still remains the top dog in this niche part of the travel industry, there are several other seat map competitors that have hit the scene. We highlight a few of the key players here.
Note: as part of my informal analysis I used 3 real flights I have booked in the months of January and February on both United, Delta and Southwest as well as 2 fictional International flights on Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. I was using a Chrome browser.
SeatLink [Rating: Not Great Yet, but Promising]
SeatLink.com is a newer entrant on the seat map scene and still note they are operating in beta. And after attempting to query a few seat maps on both real and fictitious flights it’s clear beta is the appropriate word.
For example, I attempted to view the seat map for a United Airlines flight from ONT to DEN on 1/7 and the site didn’t work correctly. Instead of getting a view of the seat map (like you do on SeatGuru) I was taken to a generic page explaining United Airlines (pictured below) with the option of clicking on a couple of different planes. I don’t know what specific plane I am on…you tell me! Once you click on a plane you get a more traditional seat map that seems to work ok.
When I switched to search for the same flight by flight number (instead of destination and date) the site literally did nothing. Nada. It literally did nothing. Ugh…
When switching to another impending real flight (this one Southwest) again, same behavior. I was taken to a generic page explaining Southwest instead of the actual seat map of the actual plane for my flight. Not a great experience.
It is worth noting that once you select the plane for your flight you get a pretty decent seat map experience. The seats are clickable and useful information is provided (see pic, below):
I tinkered around a bit more and while the bones are there, SeatLink has got a ways to go to even come close to what SeatGuru is doing, although they are probably the most credible SeatGuru alternative.
Recommendation: Take the user straight to the seat map for the actual plane being used on the flight.
SeatMaestro [Rating: Promising, but still a LOT of work to do]
The searching experience on SeatMaestro.com was better than SeatLink, but I was still left having to KNOW what aircraft I am flying on to pick a seat map to view. Ugh…
Why do I still need to know what plane I am flying on? Why can’t you go look that up for me and TELL ME.
Additionally, unlike other SeatGuru alternatives SeatMaestro’s seat maps are not clickable. Meaning you cannot get a detailed opinion of a specific seat. While they are color coded it simply doesn’t live up to expected experience.
Recommendation: Make seat maps clickable.
SeatExpert [Rating: Not Good]
SeatExpert.com does not appear to be taking this space seriously (anymore, anyways). Upon visiting their site (which, by the way, does not use HTTPS…strike one!) travelers must select their airline from a massive list then select their plane.
There is no correlation between a real flight number and plane and no ability to search by route or flight number. Instead it’s just a literal list of non-clickable flight maps for planes. There is no ability to click on a seat and learn more information about, or read reviews, etc.
Or in other words, it’s not helpful.
Recommendation: Step up.
ExpertFlyer [Rating: Hard to Say]
ExpertFlyer.com is a travel booking service that I don’t have a lot of experience with (admittedly). They appear to offer seat maps for searchers beyond their pay wall (and provide a sample link to them here). If you look at the link I provided you will note their seat maps appear to be as a result of a partnership with SeatGuru…so there you go.
I have to a little cautious here because I really wasn’t able to evaluate this service all that well (I am not signing up for a subscription). SeatMaps are not their primary focus. My initial thoughts, however, is that the site, in general, is in need of a face lift.
SeatPlans [Rating: Closed]
Business Travel News juggernaut BusinessTraveller.com explored this space for a time with SeatPlans.com, but that website is now shuttered with users being redirected to a long form post about picking seats on planes. So long SeatPlans, we hardly knew ye.
Maybe Standalone Seat Map products aren’t that useful any more
One theory I am still rolling around in my head is that perhaps standalone seat map products are simply not as valuable or needed anymore. Many airlines have improved seat map products these days and perhaps airlines themselves are pushing seat map companies into irrelevance.
Additionally, travelers are more savvy these days and often know how to pick the best seats on planes anyway. While I prefer SeatGuru I probably only use it 3 to 4 times a year and primarily when I am flying on a plane I’ve not flown or an airline I fly rarely (both of which are rare cases in and of themselves).
I am curious what readers think. How about you? Are standalone seat map companies going the way of the dodo?
Best SeatGuru Alternative – probably SeatLink.com
While the SeatGuru competitors are still pretty slim pickings, who is the Best SeatGuru alternative? After examining several of the competitors there really isn’t ANY site that jumps out at me as a truly worthy competitor NOW.
The site that shows the most promise is SeatLink.com which has got some front end work to do on making sure it’s search interface works as desired (and all the time) as well as figuring out what plane is being used on the flight as opposed to making the user pick the plane. Additionally, SeatLink needs to take its users DIRECTLY to the seat map like other sites do.
If SeatLink can do those three things I believe they can compete with SeatGuru. Let’s hope they listen.
Why not just stick with SeatGuru?
TripAdvisor.com purchased SeatGuru a while back and there’s been some drop off since the acquisition including some delay in updating current aircraft configurations and lots old or outdated data. However, for my money, SeatGuru.com remains THE gold standard in seat map comparison.
As a frequent business traveler they remain my go-to website for seat map analysis and after testing of competitor sites it is clear that SeatGuru.com remains THE best seat map product on the market.
Author note: I received no compensation for this article, nor have any financial stake in SeatGuru or any of the other seat map websites. Full Disclosure: SeatExpert is apparently owned by the same organization that owns the BoardingArea network (of which this blog is a part of), but I have no actual contact with them nor was influenced one way or the other about their site or my comments. In fact, I didn’t even realize they were owned by the same company until after I’d written it.
Thanks for tuning in to this brief discussion of SeatGuru alternatives. Who’d we miss? Drop us a comment or tweet us with any seat map sites we might have missed or counter points to our findings. As always, Happy Traveling!
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