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Old 07-15-2014, 11:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Smile Low crusing altitudes 737-700?

Hello, I just flew on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Chicago Midway (MDW), and I had a cruising altitude of only 19,000 ft....then continuing on from Midway to Ft. Lauderdale at 14,000 ft. Why so low? Is it just traffic?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-01-2014, 04:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't know what was the reason. It might be related to a short distance between those destination so they decided to select a low cruising altitude or simply there was a technical issue that it was not critical and they decided to remain low. Another possibility is that wind at low altitude were much more favourable than high altitude winds, if you were taking into account the route you had to follow.

Last one is possibly the most reliable option.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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19,000 and 14,000 are REALLY low cruising altitudes for those distances. Considering you had to cross the Rockies to go from LA to Midway!!! Heck, with a light C-17, I've routinely have cruising altitudes of FL340 planned for a one hour flight that was like 500 miles as the crow flies.

Can I ask what source you were using to see that you were at those altitudes?

The fuel efficiency is way off flying at normal cruising speeds that low. No airline I know would do that. They always want you to climb as high as you can go, for as long as you can stay there in the name of fuel savings, and time. In fact, your best ground speed for altitude (with constant indicated airspeed) doesn't start until around the mid to high 200's (i.e. FL 260 - 280) or something like that. Meaning, an indicated airspeed of 310 KIAS at FL190 will give you a much lower ground speed (Mach) than cruising at FL280 at an indicated airspeed of 310 knots (the same speed). Plus, the power required to make that speed in the lower, "thicker" air will burn more fuel at FL190 than FL280, thus killing your fuel efficiency.

I'm not calling you a liar, but just wondering if maybe your misread or misheard something. Because I can not think of a single reason why SW would fly a 737 on a 3 hour flight THAT low.

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Last edited by Sirecks; 09-04-2014 at 01:56 AM.
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