Red Eye Flight Tips: How to Survive?

There are quite a few reasons you might take a red-eye flight. Some routes are commonly red-eyes. Are you planning to take a red-eye flight? Take a look at this list of three of my top tips for this experience, and learn how to survive a red eye flight.

A red-eye flight is one that takes off after 9 p.m. and arrives by 5 or 6 a.m. 

Red Eye Flight Survival Tips

One example is Las Vegas of where you might have a red-eye flight. You’ll often see your return flights out of Las Vegas are available primarily in the late hours of the evening.

As a result, many travelers will check out of their hotel and store their bags, and then enjoy essentially a full day before they have to hop on their flight. 

Red-eye flights are common not just out of Las Vegas but many flights going from west to east, like Los Angeles to New York. This allows travelers to arrive in an earlier time zone with a full day. 

European itineraries from the states overseas are often red-eye as well, which can work out well for travelers because you land in the morning and you haven’t wasted any daytime hours in the air. 

Some people prefer to book red-eyes when they can because the tickets are usually cheaper, you can check-in faster and the flight is going to be nearly empty in some cases. 

When there are fewer people on your flight, you can stretch out or maybe get an upgrade, and you’ll have more overhead bin space. If you take a late-night flight you can also work during the day before you head out and avoid rush hour traffic. 

So, how can you survive a red-eye flight?

Red Eye Flight Tips

How to Prepare for a Red-Eye Flight 

A few things to keep in mind to prepare for a red-eye include:

  • Book a window seat. No, you won’t have aisle access, but if your primary goal is to sleep on your flight you’re going to have a better chance of doing that successfully if the person next to you isn’t stepping over you to get to the bathroom. 
  • Take the flight that’s closest to your actual bedtime. This will help prime your body to be ready for sleep. 
  • Bring your own blanket and pillow. Even in premium economy seats, what they provide you typically isn’t the best. If you like to be cozy while you sleep, you might also want a nice soft sweater and some comfortable socks too. 
  • Bring your sleep essentials so you can keep up with your pre-bed routine as much as possible. If you don’t want to do it on the plane, do it at the airport. If you have lounge access, many will even offer showers if you like to do that before you go to bed typically. 
  • Make sure you have a high-quality set of earplugs and a good eye mask. 
  • If you can avoid connections, do. If you have a nonstop red-eye, it’s going to be easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Eat Dinner Before Your Flight

If your airline is going to serve dinner, you can have that, but unless it’s a long-haul flight if it’s a red-eye they probably won’t. Whether at home or at the airport, try to have a satisfying but healthy meal before you’re in the air. 

Once you’re in the air, maybe have a glass of wine (although drinking too much can interfere with sleep), or some tea that will help you fall asleep. You can bring your own teabags and then just ask for hot water. 

Don’t drink too many liquids, though, because it can keep you up. 

How to Wake Up

How you wake up can be just as important on red-eye as how you fall asleep. Set a gentle alarm about 45 minutes to an hour before you’re set to land. You want to give yourself time to get acclimated. 

Once you are awake, have plenty of water to rehydrate and a healthy, balanced breakfast. 

You might want a bit of caffeine, too, since the goal is probably to go through your day on a somewhat normal schedule. 

When you first wake up you might want to open your window shade to get some natural light to help your body adjust. 

Before you get off the plane, or as soon as you land, wash your face or at least use a facial wipe and maybe spray some dry shampoo. You might also want to change your clothes because these are things that will cue your brain that it’s time to start the day, even when you don’t necessarily feel like it. 

Last Updated on October 23, 2023

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