Travel News Everything You Need to Know About Red Eye Flights

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Everything You Need to Know About Red Eye Flights

What is a red eye flight? Should I take one? What can I do to prepare for one? These are all common questions when it comes to travel, and we've got the answers you are looking for.

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The term ‘red eye flight’ is pretty common in the travel world. But if you aren’t familiar with it, you may be wondering what it is. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here is everything you need to know about red eye flights, and why they may be a good (or poor) choice of flight to book for your next vacation.

What is a Red Eye Fight?

A red eye flight is a flight that leaves in the evening or at night, and arrives at the end destination during the day (normally in the morning). Essentially, it’s when you take a flight at a time when you would normally be sleeping. Most red eye flights leave late at night after around 9:00 pm and arrive early in the morning around 5 or 6 am.

The term ‘red-eye’ came about because of the sleepy passengers who would disembark the plane at the end location. Not everyone is able to sleep on planes, and those that can’t tend to stand out with their tired, dry, red eyes.

Common Red Eye Flights

Red eye flights are quite common, but they don’t exist for every route. The most common red-eye flights are longer flights that go from west to east. For example: Los Angeles to New York or New York to Europe. Red eye flights are usually a minimum of four hours, but often closer to six hours or more. Sometimes you are able to choose a red eye flight, however in many cases (especially fights over to Europe) red eye flights may be the only option available.

How to Prepare for a Red Eye Flight

Red eye flights tend to be quieter than the usual day time routes, but they can still be very noisy making it difficult to sleep. However, there are a few things you can do and bring to help make it more comfortable:

Wear warm, comfortable clothing: Forget looking good on the plane, you want to wear something warm and comfortable on a red eye flight. If you are worried about appearance- pack an extra outfit in your carry-on to change at the end. But nobody wants to spend the night trying to sleep in jeans and a blouse or dress shirt. Loose fitting clothing is your best bet.

Consider bringing an extra blanket or scarf: blankets and pillows are provided on some (but not all) red eye flights, so be sure to check ahead of time. Keep in mind they can be quite flimsy though, so if you like to be snuggled up and warm when you sleep, bring something extra.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Don’t drink coffee, alcohol, or caffeinated beverages before your flight. It will only make it harder for you to sleep.

Book a window seat: Sure, you won’t get much of a view when flying through the night, but you are much less likely to be disturbed when sitting by the window.

How to Look and Feel Good After a Red Eye Flight

Believe it or not, you can look and feel your best after you’ve survived a red eye flight. These tips can help you reduce or even eliminate any jet lag so you can thoroughly enjoy your trip.

  • Take a walk outside: Once you get off the plane, take a short stroll outside. The sunshine is sure to give you an instant pick-me-up while the fresh air will boost your energy and alertness. 
  • Change into fresh clothes: Hop in the restroom and swap your wrinkled clothing into fresh, clean attire. 
  • Slow things down: Be realistic about what you’ll be able to do the day you arrive. You may want to save a 5 mile outdoor hike for a few days into your trip. 
  • Stay hydrated: Dehydration can make jet lag worse so it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water after your flight.

Red Eye Flight Essentials

There are several items that can make your life easier on a red eye flight and the day you get off one. No pressure, but we urge you to pack these essentials:

  • Earplugs: The best way to block out all the noise on the plane and ensure you get some shut eye is to wear earplugs.
  • Cashmere socks: Invest in a pair of cashmere socks for your flight. If you’re not feeling that fancy, a pair of fluffy socks will do the trick. Pack two pairs so you can dirty one during security and have a fresh pair when it’s time to get on the plane.
  • The right playlist: A classical playlist can get you in the mood for sleep and help you doze off during your flight. You can also download a noise app so you can really focus on getting some zzz’s. 
  • Facial cleaning wipes: Facial cleaning wipes can unclog your pores and remove any grime and oil that has made its way onto your face during your flight. Using them can help you look and feel refreshed.
  • Dry shampoo: Since your hair may get greasy after a red eye, it’s a good idea to slip some dry shampoo in your luggage. It’ll whip your hair back into shape ASAP so you don’t have to hide in a hat or updo.

How to Take a Red Eye With Kids

If your family vacation calls for a red eye and you have a young child, you’re in for a real adventure. Just kidding! With a bit of planning and preparation, you can ensure your flight goes smoothly for you and your son or daughter.

  • Schedule an earlier nap time: It’s a good idea to move your child’s nap time earlier the day of the red eye. This way, they’ll be more likely to sleep on the flight. 
  • Serve a filling dinner: Give your son or daughter a hearty, filling dinner two to three hours before the flight. They’ll likely get tired and in the mood to sleep once they’re on the plane. 
  • Go through a normal bedtime routine: Before you board the plane, brush your child’s teeth, wash their face, get them into their jammies, and even read a bedtime story before takeoff. Doing so will let them know it’s time for bed even though they’ll be on a plane.
  • Pack first aid items: Cold meds, a teething ring, and diaper rash cream are a few examples of the many first aid essentials you don’t want to forget. 

Taking a red eye with a kid can be a great way to save money on a family vacation and give you the chance to go through airport security with less chaos. It can also reduce your risk of a delayed flight, which can be a real hassle when you have a young one. 

Are Red Eye Flights Better?

While the idea of sleeping on a plane isn’t the most ideal, red eye flights definitely have their perks. To start with, by taking a red eye flight you aren’t using your vacation days on travel time. An overnight flight means you land in the morning, getting a full day to explore. A second benefit is that it helps save on costs. 

By spending the night on the plane, you are covering transportation and accommodation fees all in one. Finally, in cases where you may have a choice to take a day flight or a red flight, the red eye flight is often the cheaper (and less crowded) option.

That being said, red eye flights aren’t the best choice for everyone. If you can sleep anywhere, then it’s an easy pick. But, if you can’t sleep on planes, you will likely land at your final destination completely exhausted and in need of a nap. Which not only cuts into your exploring time but also could make it harder for you to adjust to any time differences. If this is the case, it’s best to stick with day-time routes when available or talk to your doctor about a sleeping aid.

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