Southwest Flight Profiles

I guess this belongs in real world aviation.

Does anyone know why Southwest flies much higher than other carriers?

Over the past year or so, I’ve been studying FlightAware charts and data on various flights of many different carriers and Southwest always seem to fly straight to FL400 within 10 minutes. Usually a few thousand feet higher than say United or Delta. Even on an hour flight.

I haven’t tried it yet after new update, but for me to do in game, light on fuel and 80% full of pax, to get at that flight level in 10 minutes I usually in up at 99% n1 and cruise at 91% n1 at M 0.78

I dunno. Been up to 400 and 410 once on Southwest.

I am pretty sure SWA flies at higher cruises because they are a budget airline witch means they have less money to put towards fuel and since the air is thinner at higher altitudes they dont have as much air resistance so they dont need as much fuel

Higher altitudes=better fuel burn=more money in there pockets.

On another note, they are always up there because the -700 climbs a rocket and does best up there

Happy Landings,


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I’m just wondering about engine maintenance on those flight cycles

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Another reason is they typically fly relatively short routes, which would make them lighter, allowing them to cruise at higher altitudes. As @N1RG pointed about, those higher cruise altitudes gives them better fuel burn.


I have noticed this a lot. Especially on routes like KSJC-KLAX. They are lighter meaning they can be higher. Fuel burn is better, more money saved.

Also, one thing I would like to add: You don’t normally see these flight profiles on their longer routes like KBWI-KSJC as they are heavier and need more air density at lower altitudes to remain flying.

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