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Jan 23, 2013

SeatGuru New: The Apple Maps of airline seat maps?

It won't direct you to into the middle of the desert while driving to a country town, like Apple Maps, but SeatGuru has just relaunched a guide to airline seats that could give you a rude shock if you rely on it to compare airline cabins or choose a seat.


SeatGuru’s new look website is so spectacularly unreliable that it could have been brought to us by the same people who committed the Apple Maps atrocity.

Let’s give some examples, by cross checking the seat width dimensions it quotes (all in quaint ye olde english measure) on Boeing 777s.

On the new American Airlines 777-300ERs, which are to drool over, it quotes the cushion width as being 17 inches in ten across economy, and also 17 inches across in its nine across economy.

So, it looks like American has gone with wider aisles in main cabin extra, its name for premium economy, which you can suck up from the discomfort of the same butt crushing cushion width as ordinary economy.

But then the inconsistencies begin. Go to the Emirates seat map representations  and we get 17.5 inches width in its 10 across 777s, but which is the same value quoted for its 10 across A380s, and its eight across A340s.

Surely this can’t be right in the Emirates A380s, which seem so comfortably wide as the same 10 across seats in a Singapore Airlines A380 which it quotes more plausibly as being 19 inches wide, which is also the width of an economy seat on a Singapore Airlines nine across 777?

Turning to premium economy in A380s it quotes the seven across upper deck cabin on the Air France jet as being 26.6 inches wide, yet for the same general seven across layout upstairs on the Qantas version of the big Airbus it quotes premium economy as 18.5-19.5 inches.  While there may be a difference in cushion width between the premium economy seats installed by each airline, it isn’t as much as 8.1 inches.

On its map of a Virgin Australia A330-200 in the seven across layout in business class SeatGuru assigns a cushion width of 23 inches, yet on the six across business class cabins on the Qantas A330-200 it quotes a mere 20 inches across.

You can go through SeatGuru any which way and cross check how they treat different airline cabins with the same seat geometry and find glaring discrepancies that can’t all be accounted for by differences in seat manufacturers or aisle widths.

It is an exercise which will destroy any confidence you might have had in SeatGuru, and like Apple Maps, it is inexcusable.The error rate is way above anything that should be acceptable to regular flyers.


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