Yesterday I flew on Southwest 903 from FLL to AUS. It was a short 2.5 hours flight, but it was interesting. The plane changed altititude several times to find smooth air (see the bottom of the page in the link below where the altitude/speed charts are). We hit mild to moderate turbulence immediately after take off and it got worse over the Gulf of Mexico. The captain first went up briefly to 40,000 after leveling at 38,000 I believe to find smooth air. No luck and back to 38. No luck again, and kept searching for stable air until he found at around 30.
It was great that the captain would keep us fully informed as to what he was doing. My question is that for such a short flight, why not just ride the bumps out? Is this pretty normal procedure? I really appreciated his effort. I have been on long hauls flights that have been choppy for hours. So, I was a bit surprised. Any response will be appreciated.