What is the best seat on British Airways?

I have never looked at ‘seat plan’ websites before, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the three main alternatives.   If you are looking for the best British Airways economy seat or the best Club World seat, are they a real help?

I looked at three of the seat plan websites – Seatplans.com (owned by Business Traveller), SeatExpert (owned by Milepoint / Boarding Area / Inside Flyer) and SeatGuru (owned by Tripadvisor).

I thought I would compare what each suggested for someone flying a British Airways 747 in Club World (the 52 seat variant).

Seatplans.com

Seatplans has a relatively cluttered layout.  You can search by flight number or airline.  The site also includes flight reviews both from Business Traveller magazine and from commentators – the only site to feature ‘official’ reviews. The latest BA news stories from the magazine are also linked in.

Looking at their World Traveller description, it has not caught up with the 787 and A380 launches.  However, when you click the next page the seat plans are there.

Unlike other sites, Seatplans.com outlines its recommendations in article format.  This seemed more reader friendly and allows them to discuss issues such as the position of Club World behind World Traveller Plus.  (It doesn’t mention that the World Traveller Plus people will steal all the snacks from the Club Kitchen though!)  Other sites just show a seat map and make you hover over seats with your mouse to find the best option.

There was no mention of the baby bassinet seats in Club World – I would personally want to be as far from those as possible.  It does say “remember that if there are children in Club World, they will be on the lower deck” which is generally true but not a BA rule.

Upstairs, 64K / 64A were not specifically mentioned even though they are generally preferred by people who want absolute privacy.

There was no mention of the fact that the middle rear-facing seat pairs are effectively a double bed which you may not want to share with a stranger – although there is a photograph.

The inclusion of photos is one of the strong points on Seatplans.com.  Overall, I liked their editorial approach but you may want to use it alongside one of the other two ‘hover your cursor’ sites.

SeatExpert

SeatExpert loses points instantly for not having the BA A380 or 787 seat plans available.  They may be new aircraft, but it is unfamiliar aircraft where you are more likely to want guidance.

It was also behind the game when I looked at the 747 seat map, with the commentary not reflecting the fact that many of these planes now have the new First Class seats (“First Class has older (but still very nice) demi-suites with lie-flat beds”).

When you turn to the seat plan itself,  the paucity of commentary makes it hard to differentiate between good and bad.  The worst seat upstairs is still better than the best seat downstairs, in my opinion, but you would not know that from looking here.

64A / K upstairs are dismissed for being close to the toilets, despite their popularity as very private seats.

More importantly, the seat diagram shows all seats facing forwards – you need to hover over a particular seat to discover which are rear facing.

Downstairs, the middle pair are described as having ‘increased privacy’.  This is true for a couple, but not for two single travellers!  No mention of the baby bassinet positions.

Seats on the wings are marked ‘obstructed window view’ which is not really true unless you consider the wing to be obstructing the view!

In general, I got the feeling that the commentary had been written by computer which assigned fixed comments to bulkhead, aisle and window seats.  With no photos, you had little idea what you were getting.

SeatGuru

SeatGuru was up to date with the 787 and A380 BA seat maps, which was a good start.

The seat map for the B747 was easily the most impressive of all three sites.  It was the only one to show a detailed graphical representation of both First Class and Club World – the diagram made it very clear how the seats were laid out.

British Airways 747 seat map 2

There were some photographs, but all had been submitted by TripAdvisor users.  There was no sense of curation – shots of plane exteriors, for instance, were not very useful!

It scored well on being the only site to recommend you ignore the middle seats if travelling alone.  Yet again, there was no mention of the baby bassinet seats.

Unlike SeatExpert, SeatGuru did not find the existence of the wing outside the window to be a problem!

Upstairs, 64A IS recommended as being especially private.

Conclusion

My review is obviously based on a very small sample of one plane type flown by one airline. However, with that caveat, SeatExpert is clearly behind the game in terms of missing new aircraft types, having no photos and giving the feeling that the comments are computer generated!

Both SeatGuru and Seatplans.com had good features.  I would recommend using both together.  Read the editorial at Seatplans.com for an overview of the cabin and to see actual seat photographs, and then visit SeatGuru to check out their graphically impressive seat plan and the individual seat comments.

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Comments

  1. Richard says:

    The best seats are going to be the ones furthest away from the toilets at the back of economy if this Tesco points drought carries on.

    • MrHeckles says:

      Wise words.

      Raffles – would be interested in your thoughts on the current Tesco drought (certainly compared to last couple of years), and also with relation to news today that Tesco is planning to allow exchange of Clubcard points for fuel discount. There does seem to be a strategic change of direction on providing opportunities to amass points.

      • We have had these Tesco droughts before. Their situation is becoming more critical, though, if you look at their falling sales. It is odd that they really don’t see Clubcard points as a sales driver otherwise you would permanently have 20 products in-store with bonus points.

        • Richard says:

          From my last Tesco shop of about £130 I got discount vouchers of almost £13 off my next bill. I’d much rather they gave me that amount in Tesco points or let me exchange them for such. As I use the resulting Avios for annual long haul first class tickets they are worth much more to me than the value Tesco puts on them. If they allowed the exchange they could keep all parties happy, which I’m sure would keep sales higher. It certainly wouldn’t do any harm or cost them anything extra.

      • squills says:
        • squills says:

          This will combine well with 3Vs – there ARE still useful ways to churn them eg SouthWestWater 😉

          However, you do need to be near a Tesco fuel station. My nearest is about 10 miles away = c.£5-6 there and back.

          A 20p/ litre saving x 60 litres = £12, so just about worth it if you can spare a few minutes extra. But not much point on half tanks.

        • MrHeckles says:

          Interesting to see the detail of fuelsave. Nice that it is additional to Clubcard points at the moment, but how long until it becomes an either or??

        • Thanks for this. I like that it means small shops can also count towards receiving a discount rather than always requiring a big shop. Luckily where I live there are plenty of Tesco stores and lots with petrol stations, all of which have pretty good prices compared to nearby competitors.

  2. I have used all those sites. What I wanted to know was which airline/ seats are best if travelling with 3 young children….. I didn’t find the answer

    • squills says:

      Depends how young, really. The bassinet seats are a godsend on long haul when you have a tot in tow.

      My 3 kids are older now (1 teen & 2 pre-teen) and when we travel short haul as 5, we nowadays usually get 3 or 4 window seats in a column, ie either 2-2-1 or 2-1-1-1 etc.

      Might sound odd but it cuts out all the squabbling so everybody gets a more peaceful flight.

      Obviously you are thinking: what are the better seats in principle?, though: ie location. That’s pretty individual. Often I’m more concerned about which side of the plane will give the best views taking off or landing, so it’s more a left/ right decision. We’re not allowed the emergency exit seats so that bit is irrelevant for us. In any case, these days those seats often get pre-paid/ pre-booked way out.

    • Raffles says:

      For Club World, I would say a full centre row plus one of the aisle seats adjacent. One adult in the far seat in the middle block, one adult in the aisle seat in the window block and the 3 kids inbetween you, two in the ‘double bed’.

      For 4 of us, we always take a row across the middle and put the kids in the ‘bed’.

  3. Another option is http://www.thebasource.com which has all sorts of information about the fleet, with seat maps of all possible aircraft seating configurations including the new aircraft.

    Worth checking out.

    • Chris Sutter says:

      I’m also surprised you didn’t mention the BA Source. Its plans are hands down *the* most accurate.

      • True. I wanted to look at the broader sites that cover most airlines – I only used BA as an example so that readers would be able to follow what I was saying.

  4. I have used SeatGuru for many years and, when combined with a bit of common sense, it is very helpful indeed. We all have our requirements and preferences. In my case, I am 6’4″ and like to seek out seats with extra legroom which are not charged for as such – e.g. behind bulkheads or simply with a seat ‘missing’ in front. Seatguru also influences my choice of flight according to aircraft type and layout.

  5. Thanks for the helpful information! However, I am little surpsrised that seats 62A and 62K in the 747 upper deck are not mentioned. These are the single best seats on any of BA’s 747z, since they are the only window seats where you will not have to jump over the feet of other passengers. Absolutely recommended. You can read my review on a recent trip (LHR-PHX) in Club World in seat 62A here: http://theluxurytravelexpert.com/2014/03/05/flight-review-british-airways-in-club-world-from-lhr-to-phx/

    • JoshBosh says:

      You don’t have to jump over anyone in 64A and K either, and you have the benefit of being totally hidden away. These both face the bulkhead, and have sufficient room for the FA to stand in the same area as you’re sitting.

    • Most of the sites do mention these seats as being good, albeit rarely explain why. It often says they are exit row seats but that probably confuses readers since they think ‘I have a flat bed, what difference is the exit row?’.

  6. Thywillbedone says:

    Can someone tell me, in terms of seeing what aircraft type will be used for a BA flight, if http://ftdashboard.net/ is accurate? I have a redemption flight on 5 Sept on BA283. When booking (and looking at it on screen now) it shows A380 but all recent flights on that route show the 747? I thought the ‘red carpet’ route was exclusively A380 or have I missed something? I appreciate it is some time away.

    Thanks!

    • LA is currently a mixture but should be twice daily during the summer 2014 period (April-October). So, as it is telling you, it should be an A380 barring any equipment changes.

    • ba.com is the best place to look. Do a dummy booking, and click on the flight number on the flight selection page. It shows the aircraft type and, if these things interest you, the ticket class (eg A, D, J, I).

      • the ba source also is pretty good for this, I think you can go down to aircraft reg when it gets closer to departure

        • The ba source only shows history. For planned aircraft & specific configurations on future flights expertflyer.com may be useful. That also shows available, taken and blocked seats for future flights which is sometimes useful; BA will only show seats as currently available or not (so it’s not possible to see which seats are currently blocked say for Gold status holders or travellers with infants and may be released closer to the flight), and requires you to do a dummy booking unless you’ve already booked.

  7. sam wardill says:

    I am also 6’4″. I would love a map that showed which Club World seats had extra legroom (i.e. no barrier at the end of the bed). It really makes a difference to my ability to sleep. Even BAsource (which I had not heard of before) doesn’t have this

    • Flyertalk can also be a good source of information if you’re willing to sift through posts on a subject. There is, for example, a whole thread on the best A380 seats that includes the recommendations for those who need extra length.