This week, we’re diving into something a little different. Once upon a time, SeatGuru (a TripAdvisor product) was the only website that gave travelers any truly useful information about airline seats. We’ve recently learned about a new seat adviser website, and it’s giving SeatGuru a run for the money—it’s called aeroLOPA.
Fun fact: LOPA is an acronym for Layout of Passenger Accommodations. It’s the aircraft’s interior configuration, an engineering diagram that certifies the interior components and installation.
Why it matters: A LOPA doesn’t just show seats, it’s a detailed schematic of the passenger cabin and it’s drawn to scale.
Using the flight information for an upcoming trip, we decided to put both websites through their paces. There’s plenty to work with too. This trip is across the US from one small-town airport to another—three flights each way!
We’ll leave the airline name out of the equation and focus only on the planes for this article (although you may be able to figure it out).
Our first flight is short on a Bombardier CRJ-900. We used both websites and looked up this plane to see what we could find out about the seats selected when the tickets were purchased. This should give us some useful info to see if we want to change our seats on check-in.
SeatGuru has been around longer, so their list of airlines and seat maps is larger than aeroLOPA’s. I found it odd, however, that with SeatGuru it was necessary to type the exact name of the airline (using initial capitals, not lower case letters).
To see the seat map on SeatGuru, you have to type the airline, the flight date, and the record locator. Once you scroll past the ad, you can click View Map.
The aeroLOPA website was definitely quicker to find the aircraft and seat. It was also clearly apparent when the diagram had last been updated on this website (this fact could not be found on SeatGuru).
Here’s a screenshot of the seatmap on aeroLOPA:
Given how often airlines do make updates to their planes, this was nice transparency on aeroLOPA’s part.
Here’s what we could find out about our seats in the main cabin on the Bombardier CRJ-900 on SeatGuru:
There’s no power or TV in the area where our seats are located, but notice the spacing between the rows? It looks exactly the same and that’s misleading.
See what the same seat map looks like on aeroLOPA:
Notice, there’s a lot more legroom in rows 15 and 16 than in the rows before and after. That’s a seat-specific detail SeatGuru doesn’t offer. Also, aeroLOPA tells you: “seats in row 15 are limited to a 3″ recline.” That’s an important detail to your comfort on this flight depending on your preferences.
One of the advantages to using aeroLOPA is knowing where the windows are located relative to the seat position (no more picking a seat where the window is positioned behind your ear!).
Window position is not clear on SeatGuru. If you dig you’ll find: “Every other row on this aircraft has misaligned windows.” Not sure exactly what that ‘misaligned’ means or which row the misalignment applies to.
If you’re traveling with a little person who really wants to see outside, window position is important. It’s also important if you’re traveling with someone who wants to curl up and sleep through the flight.
Both websites told us whether our seats would have power and entertainment. I found it hard to trust SeatGuru’s information given I couldn’t tell when their seat map had been updated.
AeroLOPA was the clear winner on this one—making the information quick and easy to find (with no extra clicking):
The aeroLOPA charts are more visually appealing and easier to read. The spacing between rows is more visually accurate and the window position is a helpful bit of information.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.