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Red Eye Flights: Ultimate Tips for Surviving

Red Eye Flights: Ultimate Tips for Surviving

Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
8 minutes read
Last Updated:

Flying through the night can be a nightmare, but red eye flights do offer some definite advantages. They're cheaper than daytime flights, they tend to be less crowded, and you can avoid spending another night in a hotel. If you're on vacation, taking the red-eye can let you squeeze in another full day, but for others, it might be the only way to arrive at your destination.

Red eye flights also allow airlines and airports to operate more efficiently. Planes don’t sit empty overnight, and airports can distribute traffic more evenly over a 24-hour period. But red-eye flights don’t have to be a nightmare. With the right preparation, you can get some rest, avoid jet lag, and arrive at your destination feeling ready to face the day. So, here are a few tips to help passengers make the most of their red-eye flight.

What is a red eye flight

A red eye flight can either be a flight that travels overnight when most people sleep, or a flight that travels during nighttime hours but not long enough to allow for a decent sleep. These trips are called red-eye because they tend to leave passengers weary-looking with red eyes from lack of sleep.

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What to bring on a red eye flight

Neck pillow, sleep mask

Memory Foam Neck Pillow

A neck pillow, especially one made of memory foam, can make all the difference when it comes to drifting off to sleep on a long flight. The memory foam supports your neck and head when you wear it over your shoulders, but it can also double as a pillow so your head will feel more comfortable if you rest it against the window.

Fanny Pack

When you're taking a red-eye flight, you'll want to keep your personal belongings nearby so you won't have to wrestle your carry-on out of the overhead bin. For this reason, a fanny pack will be your best friend. It's a great place to keep your phone, earbuds, eye mask, and other items to help you sleep.

EXPERT TIP: Make sure your carry-on bag fits under the seat in front of you. This will help you get to your personal items more easily and avoid disturbing those around you.

Comfortable Clothes

This might seem obvious, but many business travelers have meetings at their destination early in the morning and like to wear office-friendly attire on red eye flights. The trouble with this is that not only do clothes end up getting creased and wrinkled, but they also keep you from getting comfortable enough to sleep restfully if at all.

Instead, it's best to wear layers of comfortable, stretchy clothing, and don't forget to bring a pair of slip-on shoes. You’ll feel more relaxed, and you can take off the layers to stay warmer or cooler, which will ultimately help you get a better sleep.

Travel Blanket

A travel blanket can be an amazing multi-functional item on an overnight flight. You can put it around you for warmth, use it as a pillow, position it over the armrest so your elbow doesn’t get sore, and you can also tie it loosely around the tray table and put your legs through it like a leg hammock. It might be best to bring your own though. Airlines tend to use blankets all day without washing them between flights.

Air Travel blankets

Noise Canceling Earbuds

While a pair of noise-canceling headphones are a popular choice for comfort during the day, you'll have a better chance of getting a good night's rest by wearing noise-canceling earbuds. The reason for this is that headphones tend to be bulky and uncomfortable if you’re trying to rest your head on your travel pillow or against the window. With earbuds, you can listen to music or white noise without the bulk, so you will be able to fall asleep more easily.

Sleep Mask

A true essential for better rest, a sleep mask will help you by keeping the darkness consistent. If your neighbor opens their laptop or when the flight attendant turns on the cabin lights, you will have a better chance of sleeping through it. Plus, sleep masks work really well with moisturizers to help you look more rested and refreshed when you land.

Compression Socks

Since your goal is to sleep on a red eye flight, you probably don’t want to worry about moving your feet and ankles the way you would during daytime flights. Wearing compression socks will help you get a little shut-eye because they’ll help you avoid the risk of developing blood clots while you sleep.

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Tips for getting better rest

Get a Window Seat

If you're a side-sleeper, booking a window seat can make all the difference in surviving a red eye flight. You can rest your head against the window (or wall), and you don't have to wake up to let your neighbor go to the restroom.

Continue Your Nighttime Routine

Whatever you normally do before bed, you should try to do during your red eye flight. This might mean brushing your teeth, washing your face, stretching, reading a book, watching a particular show, etc. We tend to be creatures of habit, and so following your sleep routine will help you settle in during your overnight flight.

Stay Hydrated

We hear this all the time, but drinking plenty of water during a flight really is crucial for feeling better and getting some rest on red-eye flights. Just don’t drink gallons because then you’ll be going to the bathroom all night long.

Apply Moisturizer

Even if you drink plenty of water, your skin can still take a beating during air travel and especially during red eye flights since you’re not sleeping as well as you normally would. Removing your makeup and applying a natural moisturizer can make a big difference. When your flight lands, your skin will feel better and look better too.

Wear Your Seatbelt

Beyond the safety reasons for staying buckled, keeping your seatbelt fastened while you sleep during the flight will keep flight attendants from waking you up if there’s turbulence. This will also allow you to arrive safely.

carry-on essentials

What to avoid on a red eye flight

Greasy and salty foods

Eating later in the evening has been known to interfere with restful sleep especially when the meal is heavy, greasy, or high in sodium. Not only that, but salty, greasy foods tend to cause gas and bloating especially during flights because of the changes in cabin pressure. If you're traveling overnight, choose a lighter dinner earlier in the evening, or better yet, just bring your own food like apple and cheese - a combination known to support a feeling of drowsiness.

Cocktails

Alcohol, while it might seem to soothe and relax you at first, can actually interfere with sleep. Add to that the altitude and changes in cabin pressure, and you might be dealing with a hangover in addition to recovering from a red eye flight. To help your body adjust and reduce the risk of not sleeping for the entire flight, opt for water or juice instead.

Carbonated Drinks

Cabin pressure can make the carbon dioxide in fizzy drinks expand in your stomach, making you feel bloated and uncomfortable. Not only that, but this gassiness won’t make your fellow passengers very comfortable either.

Aisle Seats

Aisle seats, during a red eye flight, can be a good choice if you really want that extra space and leg room, but the downside is that if the person next to you has to get up, you will too. The other downside is that you might not get much rest with people banging into you as they walk around in the cabin.

Seats Near the Bathroom

Similarly, the seats near the bathroom may offer more legroom, but you’ll have to contend with the bathroom traffic as well as the smell. If the name of the game is rest, you’ll definitely want to avoid seats near the lavatory.

Prescription Sleep Medication

Taking a sleeping pill at the beginning of a red eye flight might seem like a really good idea. In most cases, you will fall asleep for a little while at least. But the problem is that most prescription sleep meds require a solid 8 hours of sound sleep - something you’re not likely to get sleeping in an upright position. So, if you take strong sleeping pills, you’re more likely to be exceedingly groggy when you land.

Not only that, but sleeping pills have been known to increase your chances of developing blood clots - something you certainly want to avoid. A better choice might be taking along a natural sleep supplement like melatonin.

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People Also Ask:

Is a red-eye flight cheaper?

It boils down to supply and demand. More people prefer daytime flights, so they tend to be more expensive. Overnight flights aren’t as popular, so airlines offer lower fares.

Is a pick eye flight the same as a red eye flight?

A pink eye flight is different from a red eye flight. In most cases, a pink eye will travel late but arrive at the final destination around midnight.

What time do red eye flights depart and arrive?

While there are no set times for red eyes they usually leave sometime after 9pm and arrive the following morning between 5am and 7am.

Is a red eye flight dangerous?

When it comes to flight safety, red eye flights offer the same level of safety as a daytime flight. But red eye flights may present more risk for developing blood clots since they are longer and passengers tend to move around the cabin less often.

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