The cruising altitude of any airplane (especially commercial) is simply a proliferation of the OPTIMAL height above sea level based on weight. On longer flights, as airplanes use up more fuel, they become much lighter – a lighter airplane has a higher optimal cruising altitude, where a heavier plane’s optimal altitude is lower. Most commercial airlines have fleets of planes that all weigh about the same, thus their optimal cruising altitude is typically the same – thirty thousand feet, or “flight level 300”.
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