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SeatGuru has finally released an iPhone app to make it easier to choose the best seats -- and avoid the worst ones -- on your next flight.
It's a welcome advance on trying to use the SeatGuru website on your smartphone, and it works in much the same way.
You can search by flight number and date, by route, or by airline:
And you'll get the seat map for your flight:
Tap on a group of seats for information on why they're good (green seats), bad (red) or a little bit of both (yellow).
If you're wondering how well the tapping would translate from the hover-based pop-ups on SeatGuru.com, the answer is 'reasonably well' -- you don't need especially narrow fingers or accurate aim
But the app has some significant flaws, especially for Australian passengers.
For a start, it's out of date. The Virgin Australia section still shows the Virgin Blue logo (which isn't a deal-breaker) and hasn't been updated with Virgin Australia's business class layouts (which definitely is a deal-breaker).
Only two Virgin Australia 737-800 maps are available, one with premium economy (stretching back three rows, so it's not just mis-named business class) and one without:
Eagle-eyed frequent flyers will note that Virgin Australia's old premium economy used to go A-C-D-F rather than A-B-C-D too.
The information SeatGuru gives for one of our upcoming Qantas flights also contradicts the seat map on Qantas' website, which shows a different seat configuration.
Here's SeatGuru -- note the lack of row 18 on the right-hand side:
And here's Qantas, which has row 18 on the right:
And don't think that looking up the correct seatmap by the airline's name, like you can on the website, is the quick fix. For some reason, Qantas isn't even listed in the app's master list of airlines.
Plus, on the seat maps we checked, there's neither words nor image showing where the bassinet cribs for babies are located, so that you can avoid them. And some noisy galley kitchens aren't marked either.
Regional Express (REX) isn't included on the airline list either, and with a relatively sizeable fleet of nearly 50 planes, that's an annoying omission for Australians -- especially when some smaller airline are featured.
Another shortcoming is that none of the SeatGuru seating charts are contained in the app itself.
They're all pulled down over your mobile Internet connection, which makes the app entirely useless unless you're connected to the Internet (and painfully slow if you've roamed onto a 2G network overseas).
That isn't very helpful if you're standing in a foreign airport after a delay trying to figure out which seat to pick.
I'll probably keep the SeatGuru app on my iPhone in case I get stuck on an unfamiliar airline and have nothing else to refer to, but we'd suggest starting with our own series of articles explaining how to pick the best seats. In all honesty, SeatGuru is too often inaccurate and inconsistent, so you rely on it at the risk of missing out on the best seats and ending up in one of the worst.