My Top 5 Passenger Airlines to Simulate

Yes, another of my top lists related to flight simulation.  This time, this is my top 5 list of passenger airlines I enjoy simulating their operations.  I simply couldn’t narrow my list down to just five and I felt ten was just going to be a stretch.  While I do simulate other airlines than those I’m listing here my typical go to airlines are always pretty much the same. 

Honorable Mention – VLM

VLM was a small Belgian airline based in Antwerp.  It ceased operations on 31 August 2018.  Ironically, my wife and I used VLM in real life to fly from London City Airport to Antwerp when we visited her family.  The last time we traveled on VLM was our return flight from Antwerp back to London City on 31 August 2018.  Yep, that’s right!  We were one of the last passengers.  VLM operated the Fokker 50 turboprop aircraft and it was always a joy to fly both in the simulator and real life.  My favorite VLM route of course is the London City (EGLC) to Antwerp (EBAW) and the return.

#5 – EasyJet

I consider EasyJet (EZY) to be the Southwest Airlines of the UK and Europe.  They fly everywhere and they fly from many locations.  like Southwest’s all Boeing fleet, EasyJet is an all Airbus fleet consisting of A319’s, A320’s and A321’s.  A perfect airline if you have the FSLabs Airbus packages.  While I don’t fly the FSLabs Airbus as much as I fly the Boeing 737, I do enjoy the time I spend in the aircraft.  One of my favorite EasyJet routes is London Gatwick to Innsbruck, Austria (LOWI).

#4 Alaska Airlines

With the merger with Virgin America, Alaska Airlines (ASA) offers a variety of routes and a variety of aircraft to please just about any flight simulation enthusiast.  Once an all Boeing fleet, Alaska Airlines now operates Airbus A319’s, A320, A321 and the fun to fly Bombardier Q400 along with the Embraer 175’s.  Alaska Airlines offer short-haul routes of 1-2 hours up to medium haul routes of 4-6 hours.  My favorite Alaska Airlines route is Seattle (KSEA) to Ketchikan, Alaska.

#3 Southwest Airlines

I absolutely love the Boeing 737 and it’s my all-time favorite aircraft to fly in the simulator.   So simulating Southwest Airlines (SWA) shouldn’t come as a surprise.  What I like most about Southwest is their routes.  While I do enjoy the hub/spoke route model of airlines like American and British Airways, I also like to be able to fly point-to-point and SWA gives me this freedom while still simulating a real-world schedule.  My favorite Southwest Airlines route is Denver (KDEN) to Austin (KAUS). 

#2 British Airways

British Airways (BAW) ranks number two for many reasons.  First, I’ve been a fan of BA for about as long as I’ve been involved in the flight simulation hobby.  I loved flying the Concorde when it was first introduced in Flight Simulator 2000.  Second, they are one of the only remaining airlines to still be flying the Queen of the Skies, the beautiful Boeing 747.  Today I enjoy flying short to medium haul routes out of London Heathrow, Gatwick and London City.  Between BA’s current and retro fleet of aircraft, there are tons of options to simulate.  My favorite British Airways route is London Heathrow (EGLL) to Gibraltar (LXGB).  For long-haul, of course that would be Denver (KDEN) to London Heathrow (EGLL) in the Boeing 747-400.

#1 American Airlines

In my early career, I spent lots of time flying in and out of Dallas/Ft. Worth on American Airlines (AAL).  Back then most flights were either on the MD-80, Fokker 100 and the Boeing 727.  After moving to Denver in 1998, I still flew American every chance I could.  My first trip to England back in early 2001 was on American Airlines and a Boeing 777-200. 

Around 1999-2000 timeframe was when virtual airlines became popular.  Of course, with American being my favorite airline I enjoyed flying for several American Airline VA’s.  I’ve logged many hundreds of hours flying AA aircraft around the virtual skies. 

While I no longer fly for a virtual airline, American Airlines is my most frequently flown airline in the sim. I tend to fly the Boeing 737-800 the most, but also enjoy flying routes on the 787 and 777.  My favorite American route is Denver (KDEN) to Dallas/Ft. Worth (KDFW).  My second favorite route is Miami (KMIA) to Sint Maarten (TNCM).  The approach into and departure out of this awesome airport never gets old.

In Summary

There you go!  These are my top 5 (plus an honorable mention) of my favorite passenger airlines to simulate.  While this is certainly not an exclusive list of the only airlines I enjoy flying in the sim, these are my most frequent.  But regardless of which airlines make up your top list, I hope you enjoy the time you spend in the simulator as much as I do. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E13

Episode 13 picks up where we left off with episode 12 and is the final leg of our trip.  As always, thank you so much for reading. 

Flight Details

Welcome to Southwest Airlines flight 1031 with service to Atlanta, Georgia.  We’re in the same B737.  Our block time for this flight is 1 hour, 55 minutes with a flight time of 1 hour, 27 minutes.  Our planned fuel is 14,842 lbs. and our take-off weight is 132,041 lbs.  Our cruise altitude is FL380.

Route:  ARKES4 ARKES SEAZY MATLK Q77 WASUL Q77 SHRKS LAIRI LARZZ JJEDI2

1

Headed Back To Atlanta

This the final leg of a three leg journey will have us back in Atlanta before sunset.  We seem to be running slightly ahead of these storms and that’s a good thing.  We’re hoping to get out of Fort Lauderdale before a ground stop ruins our day.  With all passengers/bags loaded, the aircraft is ready to pushback for another on-time departure. 

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Taxing out to 10L.

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Blasting out of FLL

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Making our left turn to join the departure. 

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The view off the starboard side.  The combination of REX SkyForce, REX Environment Force and ActiveSky is doing an amazing job of providing the eye candy for this trip.

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ATC vectoring us around the strongest of storm cells.  We’re keeping the seatbelt signs on until we get above these clouds.  The turbulence is bouncing us around as we continue to climb up to 38,000 feet.

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Between cloud layers things have calmed down a bit.  Just a few more thousand feet and we should be in the clear. 

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Smooth skies at last.  We’ve turned off the seatbelt sign and released the cabin crew to begin cabin service. 

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I quite like the new Southwest livery.

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Beginning our descent into the Atlanta area. 

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Joining the approach for runway 27L

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Clear to land, runway 27L

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Touchdown imminent.

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Parking up at C6 at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. 

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Our day is done and what a day it’s truly been.  Once we turn the aircraft over, I have about 90 minutes to grab something to eat and head to gate C14 to take a jump seat flight to Chicago Midway.  Tomorrow I will serve as Sr. First Officer for a flight out of MDW to Detroit and back.  Then I jump seat out to Oakland where I’ll have three days off before another full day of flights on the west coast.  Fun times ahead. 

Before I close out this report, let me just show my APL progress thus far.  As you can tell from the image below, my total XP is 395.66 and climbing.  I have just over 254 XP to go before my promotion to the rank of Captain and the move over to the left seat.  As previously discussed, I’m earning $40.25 per hour at Southwest as a Sr. First Officer and now that I’m getting the hours I need, I’m content to stay at SWA for the near future. 

3

With the last payday, I purchased a headset which along with the mobile phone and flight bag is earning me an additional 25% XP on each completed flight.  While I really don’t think there is any right or wrong way to build your APL career, in my opinion (at this time) earning extra XP is more important than earning additional money bonuses.  So all my salary earnings has been going to building up the XP bonuses. 

4

See you next time.

Credits

If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-700
Airline: Southwest Airlines (SWA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KFLL FSDreamTeam, KATL Imaginsim
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E12

Episode 12 picks up right where we left off with episode 11.  After a quick turnaround, we’re set to fly the second of three legs today.  Thanks for reading…

Flight Details

Welcome to Southwest Airlines flight 2098 with service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  We’re in the same B737 we arrived in from Atlanta.  Our block time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with a flight time of 1 hour, 43 minutes.  Our block fuel is 15,480 lbs. and our take-off weight is 133,369. 

Route: DCT BLVNS Y290 BAGGS JINGL6

1

Let’s Go

I mentioned last time how quickly the MSY ground crew unloaded bags, they are equally as fast in getting them loaded. 

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With bags loaded, the catering crew is quickly dropping off drinks, ice and some of those wonderful Southwest FREE snacks.  Yum

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Push back underway.  We’ll be in the air again shortly. 

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We’re not wasting any time…..on-time departure? Check!

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Making our turn with the Mississippi River off the left wing. 

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We look to be running from another approaching storm.

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Climbing up to FL370.

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Leaving Louisiana direct Gulf of Mexico. 

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Watching and monitoring a storm over the Gulf. 

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Land ho…That’s Florida down below.

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More lightning down below.  Shouldn’t be an issue on the arrival.  However, this storm might be a consideration for our third leg up to Atlanta.  Time will tell….

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On final approach

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Short final for runway 10L

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On the ground in Ft. Lauderdale. 

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As was the case in New Orleans, we’re on a tight schedule to deboard our passengers and get the aircraft turned around and headed back to Atlanta.  Tune in next time for the 3rd leg of this journey.

Credits

If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-700
Airline: Southwest Airlines (SWA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KMSY LatinVFR, KFLL FSDreamTeam
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E11

As a beta tester for A Pilot’s Life, I needed to change airlines to test new features which debuted with version 1.33 which was released in late June.  These new features (including multi-hub and multi-leg routes is a very nice addition to an already wonderful add-on application.  If you’re not a user of A Pilot’s Life, I encourage you to check it out.  You won’t be disappointed.  Links can be found below.

Present Day

I hit the breaking point with Alaska Airlines.  While I truly enjoyed my time both in Seattle and San Francisco, I just wasn’t getting enough flight hours.  I’m hoping to eventually make Captain and  of course I still need to earn a living.  After arriving back to SFO from Palm Springs, I was told my next flight wouldn’t be for another week.  So I went home and called the recruiter which had contacted me with an offer from Southwest Airlines. 

At this point I was getting pretty desperate.  While each of my career moves have been working my way up both the career ladder as well as the salary scale.  I just wanted to work and fly.  Southwest Airlines wanted to meet with me and they flew me down to Dallas.  Things just clicked and soon I was offered a position as Sr. First Officer and they even bumped by pay rate up to over $40.00 per hour.  WOW. 

While I still hope to land a job with American Airlines (at some point), I’m willing to wait until I reach Captain if necessary.  Southwest has assured me that if I’m willing to work, they’ll certainly keep me busy.  The other exciting them I’m looking forward to with SWA is their multi-leg route structure.  I’ll be honest, after a while of flying hub/spoke flights, one gets a little bored.  While some SWA flights are hub/spoke, the majority are multi-leg routes and I’m really looking forward to this.  So for now, I’m going to keep my apartment in San Fran and see how things unfold over the coming weeks. 

Flight Details

Today we’re operating the first of three flights out of Hotlanta (Atlanta).  Yes, it is HOT, HOT, HOT today.  Our first leg will have us flying down to the Big Easy (KMSY) then over to Fort Lauderdale (KFLL) then back to Atlanta.  I guess when Southwest said they could keep me busy, they actually meant it. 

For the first leg, we’re operating Southwest Airlines flight 5716 with service to New Orleans, Louisiana in the Boeing 737-700.  Our block time today is 1 hour, 45 minutes with a flight time of 1 hour, 10 minutes at a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet.  Our block fuel is 12,736 lbs with take-off weight of 126,715 lbs.

Route: ATL5 POUNC DCT GRGIA DCT SJI SLIDD2

1

It’s Time to Feel the Love

I’ve gotta say, I enjoyed my time with Sun Country (gosh that feels like ages ago) and I did enjoy most of my time with Alaska.  But I must admit that the folks at Southwest are some of the friendliest I’ve met. 

After a quick walk-around inspection, we’re all buttoned up and ready to roll out of here.  I think the captain knows what might happen with these storm clouds and he’s not wanting to waste anytime. 

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The Atlanta airport is HUGE and a very busy place.  Usually….

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Taxing out to our active runway 27R. 

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Cleared for take-off, 27R

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Wheels up, my inaugural flight with Southwest Airlines is underway. 

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Making our left turn direct POUNC and climbing up to 10,000.

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Cleared up to FL380

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After a relatively short cruise, we’ve started our descent.  The Gulf of Mexico is just in the distance. 

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The Gulf of Mexico is normally not this blue. 

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Nice clouds

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The Huey P. Long Bridge which spans the Mississippi River and the New Orleans skyline. 

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Lake Pontchartrain just off the right wing.

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Clear the visual for runway 29.

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Seconds from touchdown

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The ground crew and baggage handlers working hard to get us turned around quickly. 

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This was a wonderful first leg of what I’m sure will be a fantastic trip.  I’m really excited about the opportunity fly for Southwest and build my career. 

Credits

If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-700
Airline: Southwest Airlines (SWA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KATL Imaginsim, KMSY LatinVFR
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

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