Why do some flights cruise at their assigned altitude for 5 minutes before descending?

One route I know this happens is KSAT to KDFW. The typical cruise I see is FL300. The plane stays there for around 5 minutes before descending. Any reason it has such a quick cruise altitude?

Maybe it’s because of the short time of the flight?

Depends on the cost index of the carrier and the priorities. NAX has flights were they don’t have cruise at all. They go up to top of climb, and then start descending right away. Remember that air is thinner the higher you get, thus you will move faster over the ground


I know the flight is short but don’t know why they need to climb so high only to stay there for less than 5 minutes before descending. Like why not have cruise at a lower altitude around FL260? KSAT to KIAH is a similar distance and has a lower cruise altitude.

The reason is the accounting department crunched the numbers for all the possibilities of flight levels. They determined that it saves the company money to climb that high for cruise, even for such a short period of time.

The margins in aviation are so slim that any money saved is money gained. That’s why (I believe it was United) removed all paper magazines from their airplanes. With the number of flights they operate, the reduced weight from magazines on each flight meant they were using less fuel on each leg, thus saving them money in the big picture.



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