It’s hard to stay productive during a flight. Seats are uncomfortable, there is a lot of background noise, and most flights have no stable internet connection.
That’s why many passengers prefer to sleep on a plane. But sleeping during a day flight, if possible at all, disrupts our usual cycles.
A common solution is to catch an overnight flight, which can help you stay productive during the day and, in some cases, even save money. This article will discuss everything you need to know about choosing red-eye flights.
Why are red-eye flights called that?
The term “red-eye” comes from the eyes of the passengers that use these flights. They take off late in the evening and arrive at their destination early in the morning. While it is a perfect time for sleeping, and many of them do sleep, frequent passengers on such planes face some health risks.
That’s where the “Red-eye” comes from. It’s a signal of tiredness and fatigue that comes with not having a good night’s sleep. Such flights are not for everyone, and you must be prepared to get enough rest.
Veteran passengers of red-eye flights take a number of precautions – they bring their own pillows and head plugs, dress comfortably and eat well before the flight. If nothing else helps, a sleeping pill is the last resort, but it comes with its own health risks.
But the scary name and looks of the passengers don’t mean that red-eye flights aren’t without benefits. If you know where and how to look, such flights are way cheaper than usual ones. It also saves a lot of time as you spend the most unproductive part of your day on a plane sleeping.
Red-eye flights are preferred by travellers who do not fancy crowded airports. Nighttime is usually when they are least busy and less stressful. This fact also explains why they are so cheap – the airport fares are way lower for airlines.
Business or economy class?
There are at least four different types of red-eye flights. As with most types of air travel, you first must choose the class of the flight you will take. Business and higher-class tickets have more appeal to red-eye flight passengers. The convenience they bring is just more valuable at night.
Economy seats are usually placed awkwardly close to other passengers, uncomfortable in their design and there is more noise due to the number of people in these sections of a plane. Choosing a higher class seat is a rational choice, although you might be able to save so much on the tickets.
But I still highly recommend purchasing a higher-class ticket as you will save some money for a hotel while sleeping on the plane. One of the things I like the most during a red-eye flight in a business class seat is the extra care of the flight attendants.
Short haul or long haul?
Depending on your destination, you might also have a choice between long-haul and short-haul flights. If your flight is longer than six hours, it is considered a long-haul flight. If it’s up to three hours, it is a short-haul flight.
Most red-eye flights are long-haul flights as it makes more sense to fly longer hours at night. You can get more hours of sleep and won’t need a hotel room after you land. Short-haul flights might still require you to get some sleep afterwards, and most people want a hotel for that.
If you are having trouble deciding whether to choose a red-eye flight for your trip, consider how long it will take and evaluate it according to REM cycles. One REM cycle takes around 90 minutes, and we need at least three such cycles per night.
You need your flight to be at least four and a half hours long for it to be red-eye worthy. However, realistically, you won’t be sleeping for at least half an hour at take-off and landing. So, I wouldn’t take a red-eye flight of less than 5 hours.
In theory, it’s still considered a short-haul flight, but you can get some decent sleep if you prepare well and purchase a business-class ticket.
Finding Red-eye flights?
As with most flights, red-eye ones can be found posted on Airline websites, plane ticket research engines, or travel agencies.
Most Airline websites will require you to simply filter the departure and arrival times of your flights. The flights that leave late in the evening and arrive early in the morning are red-eye flights. Some Airlines highlight red-eye flights as special deals.
Metasearch engines, such as FareCompare, Momondo, or Skyscanner, can give you better prices and allow you to compare different airlines. However, they frequently don’t show deals on red-eye flights that appear on Airline websites.
Travel agencies can also have some hidden deals for red-eye flights as they book charter planes for their customers exclusively. Sometimes they have some spare seats and provide red-eye flight seats on demand if contacted.
Purchasing red-eye flight tickets is quite similar to catching a normal daytime flight, but there are a few things you must be prepared for. Many airlines, especially cheaper ones, do not provide any flight accessories that are essential during a red-eye flight. You must take your own head pillow, blanket, earplugs, and eye mask.
In my experience, red-eye flights often have two small with small inconveniences that you must know before purchasing a ticket.
The onboard menu is not as broad as during the day. While this is a small inconvenience for most passengers, it can be a huge deal breaker for picky eaters or people with allergies.
Another disturbance is delays in departure. As the airport isn’t working at full capacity, it might take longer to go through security.
Red-eye flights aren’t hugely different from daytime flying, but you still should consider purchasing a higher-class ticket, counting your REM cycles, and looking for better deals.
It will make your red-eye flight all the more satisfying.