A Guide to Parallel Runways (L, R, C)

Sometimes the airport you are flying to will have multiple runways, but which runway should you land on? The obvious answer is “Whichever one the ATC tells me to”.

Many large airports are designed the with multiple parallel runways. Typically the “inside” runways will be used for departures while the “Outer” runways are used for arrivals. This makes traffic management easier for the controller and allows for faster departures while keeping arrivals on a separate runway. It also allows for runway crossing to occur further down on the runway instead of at the runway threshold.

At KLAX, I typically use 24R and 25L as the arrival runways (when the wind is right)

Some airports have three runways, like KSEA has a Left, Right, and Center runway. The same logic holds true with the runway closest to the terminal being the departure runway. But as always, please follow your ATC instructions.

In summary, please pay attention when you are given a L/R/C designation and make sure you are lined up with the correct runway. I cannot count how many times I ask someone to land on 25L and they end up lining up on 25R. This can cause unnecessary go-around commands, crashes, or more.

I hope this helps. Again, please follow your ATC instructions.

Thank you in advance for your time and happy flying!

Mods… Wasnt sure if this should go in live or atc. Please move if needed.


It also helps checking which runway is in use for landing on your destination airport.

I think #tutorials ?
Moved there, anyway, it can be corrected .


Nice explanation! Just a note on top of this:
PIlots, be sure to re-check the ATC log a few times, as explained it’s easy to mix up the runways so there is no harm in checking the log for confirmation while on final approach that you’re heading for the correct runway

1 Like

What you mean by “log” ?

There is a log under the ATC tab that shows all previous messages between you and ATC


I’ve only ever landed at the wrong runway once (on solo). I ended up at the wrong airport too. Oops

1 Like

Ah I remember messing up my runways at Denver…

Apologies to that controller-thankfully he caught me in time and told me of my mistake.

1 Like

if they say continue taxi, its incorrect. They should assign you a runway or you request them which one you want to taxi to

Denver? That’s nothing…try Edwards (KEDW) 😂


No worries, real-world commercial airline pilots even land on taxiways sometimes. Luckily no one got hurt in the incidents I heard of.

1 Like