What's the best way search for airplane lie-flat seats ?
One of the biggest factors especially for long haul flights is what type of seat you're travelling in with "lie-flat" being by far preferable over recliner and angle-flat somewhere in between.
I find it extremely tedious to do these type of searches since many airlines these days fly both configurations on the same aircraft types on the same routes on the same day. Here what I have tried so far without much success
- Airlines: most airlines do both. There are few "recliner-only" airlines left (like Icelandair), but even COPA is now flying some lie-flat.
- Aircraft type: doesn't seem to help either. Even many narrow bodies do have lie-flat versions and plenty of wide bodies have recliners. Many airlines mix on the same aircraft type.
- Route: Doesn't help either. For example United daily flights from BOS->SFO are half recliner and half lie flat.
- International Business: All over the place. Example United to South America is completely hit or miss. Iceland Air and Azores on transatlantic is recliner only.
- International long haul Business on a classy airline: Doesn't work either. I just booked Tokyo to Jakarta on ANA and found to my great disappointment that these are "cradle seats". Not remotely close to lie flat. Turns out ANA flies 4 versions of the 787-8: recliner, cradle, 2xlie-flat.
So the best I've come up with is do "normal" search and than check each of the more interesting options with seatguru.com and/or Google Flights. Seatguru can be dicey and typically gets the aircraft type correct, but not the specific version. If that doesn't pan out, I actually have to book the flight to the point where I get to seat selection (if offered) and try to identity the specific version from there. Google flight does typically gets it right, but not always and it doesn't also provide seat info.
All of this is extremely tedious and time consuming. Are there better ways of doing this, especially if you are looking at a range of possible destinations and dates?
Note: I understand that aircraft can be swapped and that seat type when booking is not guaranteed to be the same seat-type when flying. That's fine. This happens rarely enough that I'm happy to take this risk.