I've noticed that (long-haul) airliners sometimes travel at as high as 1000 km/h (I believe I've even seen 1040 km/h), but usually they fly closer to 800 km/h, for most of the trip. This seems odd to me.
I would understand this if it was due to wind speed; however, usually those that travel slowly seem to do so for most if not all of the journey, regardless of the direction of travel (e.g. even if they are going up to the north pole and back down, and whether the net direction is west or east). I find it nearly impossible to explain this using wind speed.
Similarly, given that the speed of sound is around 1,060 km/h at 12 km above sea level, I find it equally uncompelling to reason that they need to go at less than mach 0.8 due to the speed of sound. I would understand it if they limited themselves to (say) mach 0.95 (obviously you don't want to do mach 0.99 due to variability etc.), but I routinely see top speeds that are around mach 0.8 for cross-continental flights, and I don't understand why.
So, what's the real reason?