Cruising Altitudes

Can anyone please tell me how to calculate the cruising altitude of a flight according to the distance


Use - it will give you sensible altitudes based on weight, aircraft, winds, etc…


Actually you would want to step climb up to your cruise altitude. Distance has a little affect, but the main thing you want to consider is weight and ETD

I suggest you check this out as well!

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Just remember:

If you are traveling south or west, you should be cruising at an even altitude (ex. FL280, FL300, FL320 and so on)

If you are traveling north or East, you should be at an odd altitude (ex. FL270, FL290, FL310, and so on)

This is just a good rule of thumb to remember. Now to answer your question, I usually either go to FlightAware and type in the route I’m flying and see what cruising altitude was used, or I use FPLtoIF and it’ll automatically give you a cruising altitude for your direction of flight.

I would say generally, a good cruising altitude would be FL380 or FL330 depending on direction and distance. But I would recommend one of the two resources I have listed to find cruising altitude.


Yes, read @VulicityHD s comment. He explains the IFR altitudes. Basically if you are flying west, pick an even and for east pick an odd altitude.

Other than that, just use some common sense. As an example you don’t want to climb to FL420 for a 1 hour flight. You also don’t want to cruise at FL380 if you are heavy plane.

If it is a long haul flight, step climb. Start of with FL300-330, climb 2000 every 3 hours or so. You will gradually be at around FL360-FL420 towards the end of the flight.

Hey buddy !!
You can use simbrief or fpltoif for calculating cruising altitude and step climb.
Hope this helped you :)

A quick advice to add: unless you are controlling thrust manually, it is usually a bad idea to cruise at FL280 especially in aircraft that ae known to bob up and down.

Thank you for this mini guide as i was struggling to find an topic that discussed this well. Thank You !

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You are welcome and welcome to the community!

Dang it I have been doing it backwards


FL420 is not valid. It would be FL430.

Made me look up why you said that and it taught me something. Can you elaborate on the why of this, if you know? Thanks!

passing FL410 the IFR altitude rules change.

  • 000-179: FL410, FL450, FL490, etc
  • 179-000: FL400, FL430, FL470, FL510
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Before RVSM airspace was introduced cruising altitudes above FL290 (iirc) were in steps of 2000 ft, so 310 350 390 430 going west and 290 330 370 410 going east. RVSM ends at FL410, so above FL410 flight levels are still separated by 2000ft. Only relevant if you fly the C750 or military really.


Thank you!

Along these same lines, do I have any business flying an A350 up in the FL400’s? I usually start out in the low to mid 300’s and step up every 1,000 or so nm’s. Is this similar to real aviation? I know 787’s fly in the 400’s frequently. Does the rule “higher burns less fuel” ever invert?

The A350 can cruise high - I’ve seen it regularly at FL410 and even FL430 on FR24.

Even at 100% load, the A350 can theoretically cruise at FL350 due to its fuel efficiency.

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Thank you!!

Not in IF

In IF you start rocking back and forth

Except in IF the A350 is never more fuel efficient above FL350 than below lol (not at M.85 at least)

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