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Not a fan of that seat next to the lavatory?

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(CNN) -- Good luck trying to open your laptop to prepare for a meeting while wedged into a middle seat near the engine in economy class or on the aisle by the restrooms.

CNN spoke with Matt Daimler, founder of SeatGuru.com, for some inside advice on securing an airline seat that's comfortable for you.

SeatGuru.com provides seating maps and aircraft information for 29 airlines, with comments and observations from users about specific seats and charts that allow travelers to compare seating options across multiple airlines.

Armed with this information and some simple strategies, you should be able to fly to your next business meeting with ease.

Act quickly

"Make your seat selection when you book, as far in advance as possible," Daimler advised.

Business travelers don't have as much flexibility as leisure travelers for planning, but choosing a seat as soon as you book is the best way to assure a comfortable flight.

Check in online

Checking in online is a good idea for last-minute seat selection, Daimler said. It saves travelers the trouble of arriving very early to get some of the choice seats that open up just before the flight.

"Most carriers will allow you to select the exit rows or the bulkheads. Those seats become available on the day of travel or via the 24 hours in advance when you're allowed to check in online."

Suit yourself

The height of comfort and convenience for one traveler will make another frequent flier squirm. SeatGuru.com provides specifics on seat width and available legroom and color codes seats that might present problems for some travelers, as well as seats that are considered poor across the board.

Seats near the lavatories generally receive poor reviews from SeatGuru.com users, but some fliers like the easy access.

"Nine out of 10 people say 'I don't like sitting next to the bathroom,' but one out of 10 says, 'Hey, that's great. That's my favorite seat,' " Daimler said.

The flat seats some carriers offer in first and business classes also receive mixed reviews. Often the flat seats are positioned at a slight angle, making it difficult to get and stay situated, Daimler said.

Consider your own requirements for comfort and select a seat accordingly, Daimler advised.

Ask away

Inquiring with a gate agent may yield some extra space.

"You might be able to do that before you get on the plane and get your own row because it's an empty flight," Daimler said.

"These days it's not happening quite as often because the airlines are filling planes better than ever before," but Daimler said it's still worth a try.

Traveling companions may also want to try reserving a window and an aisle seat in the same row in hopes of keeping the middle seat empty.

"That strategy has limited success, but when it does work you're happy to have that extra seat between you to stretch out or put something in," Daimler said.

Stay loyal for best perks

"If you're flying with frequency it does make sense to try to pick an airline and stick with it," Daimler advised.

"It will pay off in getting better seats both in economy and also potentially getting upgrades."

This story first appeared on CNN.com in May 2006.

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