Nerd Alert: Airline Management Simulator Games

Lucky is a self-described AvGeek, but even he has his limits. He makes fun of me for playing an online airline management simulation called AirwaySim. But in my opinion, this computer game is great fun for anyone who loves airlines, even if you moved out of your mom’s basement years ago.

What is an online airline management simulation game?

Basically you run your own imaginary airline, typically competing against other players who are managing their own fake carriers. You buy or lease aircraft, establish routes, set fares, hire staff, advertise, and even make fuel hedging contracts.

There are variable weather and economic conditions that add another dimension of complexity to the simulation.

AirwaySim Manage Routes

You can pick how many economy, business, and first class seats you want in each individual aircraft, and even whether the seats are fully flat, angled flat, or high-density.

And, if you want, you can even design a company logo and aircraft livery.

AirwaySim Seats

In my most recent game, I chose LAX as my home base airport, and eventually had a fleet of 170 aircraft.

AirwaySim Fleet

The game advances in real time: one day in the game takes about 25 minutes of actual time, and the games have a start and an end year (for example, a game will begin in 2010 and end in 2020, which will take a few weeks in real time to play – and you can join the game anytime after it has begun).

AirwaySim is the only online airline management simulation I have experience with, but there is also AirlineSim and Airline Empires, which seem very similar.

Does it cost money to play?

Yes, but not a lot. AirwaySim, for example, gives you a free one-week trial, and after that it only costs a dollar or two per week to play.

A better long-term investment than buying stock in a real airline, in my opinion.

Is it realistic?

Of course not.

There are a lot of complexities that actual airlines contend with (like labor relations, regulatory restrictions, and co-branded credit cards) that the game doesn’t take into account. But probably the closest I’ll ever get to the real thing.

Bottom line

If you love airlines and think you can do a better job than Doug Parker, give it a go.

Does anyone else play airline management simulations?

About Andrew

Andrew's work as a government employee has forced him to learn to find humor in every situation, which he believes is the key to enjoying travel. An aviation geek who had never flown in a premium cabin prior to winning a trip to Finland from One Mile at a Time, Andrew now uses miles, points, and elite status to up his globe trekking game. His favorite animal is the golden retriever.

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Comments

  1. Looks good, will have to give it a go! When I was younger, I always played a computer game called “Airline Tycoon”. That one was definitely a lot more cartoony, with sabotage and colorful characters and the like. But the routing and scheduling mechanics were all there, and it was definitely a lot of fun.

  2. They are fun, and I love playing as well. And really, most could do a better job than Doug Parker, lol

  3. Have been looking for a good one, thanks!

    Any readers remember Aerobiz and Aerobiz Supersonic on Sega/Super NES? I played the hell out of those games when I was 10-11 years old!

  4. Air Tycoon 2 (online & offline version) looks to be be at more detailed and also has the labour, salary point you mention missing in this game. Give it a shot guys, been addicted for many years now.

  5. Try airlines manager 2, it’s a mobile and pc game (creating an account on one will let you manage it on the other) one day is one day in real time and it’s basicly like any tycoon game where you set up your routes buy your planes and all. The mobile version is a bit simplified (no hiring staff and all) but it’s not bad. Advancing in the game can be quiet slow though since it is real time.

  6. Airlinesim’s passenger flow feels more realistic of these games (but the UI was even less graphical), and one minute in real world is one minute in the game. That’s why I stick with them. All great games for aviation geeks!

  7. Great…thanks Andrew, you home wrecker.

    I spend half the year working overseas. During the months I’m home, I do prefer spending time with the husband. But now, thanks to Andrew, I’m going to be glued to a computer screen playing with my imaginary airline. I’ll become addicted and husband will leave me for some tall, twentysomething Fabio-type.

    My fate is sealed. Oh, well. Husbands may leave but imaginary airlines are forever. When I was a tyke back in the 60’s I had an airline named Montego Airways. It will now soon be a simulated reality. I hope one of these sims will allow Montego to have a fleet of Lockheed Constellations and Tupolev Tu-114s. So exciting!

  8. Airlinesim is much more challenging and thus really really interesting. The passenger demand is unpredictable and depends on competition. You get to grow your airline empire on a hub and spoke model, as well as with interlining partners. It’s all real time. You have to pay though, like 2 euros for a week or so. But it’s all worth it. This game taught me hundreds of IATA airport codes.

  9. They are lots of fun and can be VERY addictive!

    I’ve done airlinemogul.com but airlinesim.com is by far perhaps the most realistic (albeit complicated).

  10. A dream come true! I’ve literally been looking for something like this! So far I’ve. Been playing airtycoon 2 on my iPhone and it’s cool and all. But not as good as this sounds.
    Thank you for the post!

  11. AirlineSim is definitely the most realistic airline management game. I’ve been playing it for years. Guess it can be quite hard for beginners, though.

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