Why I Prefer a Red Eye Flight (And Maybe You Should too)

A red eye flight is the best flight if you do it the right way. Airports are basically empty when you check-in and more than likely the seat next to you is empty. More room to stretch out. Less hassle and no crowds. Doesn’t this sound like the ideal situation when traveling?

I prefer red eye flights, especially when traveling from the west coast to the east coast and vice versa. You land at your destination early in the morning with a full day ahead of you. Check-in at your hotel early if you can or leave your baggage with the hotel concierge. More time to relax and get an extra day to explore!

You are reading this because you are thinking about taking a red-eye flight or just recently booked an overnight flight. If you have never experienced red eye travel, I highly recommend that you at least try it out. It won’t be the same as to sleeping in your bed, but with these tips, you’ll hopefully look at a red eye flight in a different light.

So, What is a Red Eye Flight or Red Eye Flight meaning?

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

A red eye flight is a late-night or overnight flight on a commercial airline that arrives at its destination the following morning. Typically, most cheaper flights that travel from westbound to eastbound are red-eye flights. There are many business travelers who prefer taking the night flights for work. They leave late at night and arrive early morning. Or, they go straight to the airport after work to go back home. My favorite was seeing a man in his suit sleep the whole time on a 15-hour long flight from LAX to Seoul.

If it is not a non-stop flight, what I don’t like are layovers during the wee hours. Connecting flights can be brutal because the flight time is disrupted for passengers.

Where does the term “red-eye” come from? Just imagine the eyes of a sleepless traveler. More than likely that person will have tired distinctive red eyes.

Reasons to take a Red Eye Flight

There are some people who just absolutely hate flying, who worry about the screaming kid on a flight. However, there are some serious pros. It usually has the most amount of cheap seats left, which means you’ll have a better chance of getting a window seat. Usually, red-eye flights are not completely booked so there is chance the seat next to you is empty. Another pro is shorter security lines. It is way faster, seriously 15 minutes from start to finish. Also, with the change in time zone, there is more time to relax at your destination.

The Best Tips to Survive a Red eye flight

Here are tips from my experiences that will help upgrade your sleep:

  • Choose your seat carefully, location people! You can research the seat map of the aircraft to find the one most comfortable (seatguru.com). I recommend choosing a window seat, so you have something to rest your head against. At all cost, avoid the middle seat or seat close to the bathroom or lavatory in the plane because it can get noisy. 
  • Dress comfortably on the flight. Clothing that is loose, stretchy, and breathable. Take your shoes off and wear comfy socks, a must! (I always bring an extra pair in my carry on). Having a jacket or sweater is nice if you like to stay warm while you sleep.  
  • Invest in noise-canceling headphones to block out the noise. I truly recommend getting the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones, a bit pricey but totally worth it ($349). Or, buy soft foam earplugs as an alternative because the noise disturbance can disrupt your sleep.
  • Use a good eye mask that blocks out any light. If you want awesome sleep with comfort and total darkness, try out the Manta Sleep Mask. It is a modular sleep mask, custom fit to anyone’s face, that has absolute 100% blackout.
  • Avoid watching movies on the T.V. screen. Exposure to high rate blue light will impact our sense of circadian rhythms and can cause insomnia. Unless you have a device that can filter out the blue light or just buy blue light blocker glasses.
  • Use an inflatable pillow or comfortable neck pillow. I have tried numerous travel pillows, and have yet to find my favorite one.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal right before your flight. Avoid the food served to you on board the flight (say no to gastrointestinal distress). Bring your own trail mix if you are a snacker.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. I know it is hard not to have a glass of wine or a beer before departure.
  • Take Melatonin to help you sleep. Also, I like to drink herbal tea blended with chamomile, spearmint, and lemongrass to help fall asleep.
  • Make your own Business Class Refresh Kit and have it handy in your carry-on bag. It can include a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, mouthwash, comb, and a lip balm. When I arrive, I refreshen up first thing in the airport bathroom.


Save money, deal with less hassle, and get an extra day of exploring when you fly a red-eye. Try it out, and if it’s not for you and jet lag sinks in hard, I won’t take it personally.  If you are looking to improve your experience, I listed more than a handful of tips to optimize your sleep if you are a sensitive sleeper like me. This is based on experience from my redeye flights and flight attendants.

If you have anything else to add, please do so in the comment section below. Safe travels!



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