I rode a smaller twin-tail-engined jetliner for a few short hops last month, and I noticed that their airport approaches are much rougher than the widebody airliners I am used to. I believe that it was an MD-80 with United Airlines.
As soon as the pilot began the descent, it seems like the he/she was going wild with the throttle; the engines would appear to idle for 10 seconds, then suddenly and audibly power to full for another 10 seconds, and the cycle would repeat until we were right above the runway. I know that this was not crew specific because I took the commercial flight on 6 different occasions on three different routes.
Question: Why did the pilots increase and decrease the throttle so rapidly and so many times on descent to the runway?
edit: Terrain: flat, Atlanta area; Meteorological conditions: heavy cumulus, twice during the night and the other four during dusk, light to moderate rain under and in the clouds. The clouds had no breaks and often had a strange formation where in some areas they would rise much higher than others. Imagine a series of mountains and valleys with several? miles of distance between cloud peaks and cloud dips.