Here’s The Surprising Reason That Planes Actually Fly Very Close To Each Other

If you’ve ever looked out your airplane window and thought you’d spotted another plane whizzing by, it may not have been your imagination.

It turns out that passenger planes don’t fly nearly as far apart as most people think. In fact, planes are sometimes only about 1,000 feet apart vertically. That might seem like a lot, but it’s only about three football fields. Considering that planes are cruising at hundreds of miles per hour in a wide open space, why do they get so close to each other?

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Additionally, all eastbound flights fly at “odd” flight levels (3,000 feet, 17,000 feet, 33,000 feet, etc.) and all westbound flights fly at “even” levels (2,000 feet, 10,000 feet, 30,000 feet, etc.). This means that planes headed towards each other will always have at least 1,000 feet between them.