Every day, more than 2.5 million people travel on airplanes. Whether you’re going to a conference or a sunnier destination, you naturally want to get there as quickly as possible.
One answer is to take late night flights, also known as red-eye flights. You might not want to chance it if you have young children, but for conferences and regular vacations, red-eye flights can be affordable and efficient.
We’ll take you on a tour of red-eye flights and help you figure out which late-night flights work best for you.
Advantages of Red-Eye Flights
What a lot of airline passengers don’t know is that late-night flights are cheaper – much cheaper. If you leave at 11 pm and arrive at 8 am, your ticket could be 50% cheaper than traveling by day. Saving half your ticket price is ideal if you’re traveling with a large group.
When you’re reading flight listings, you’ll see a small “+1” next to the arrival time. That means that your flight will arrive the next day. Keep in mind, though, that flights leaving after midnight will show up on the flight list for the next day.
Taking red-eye flights also means speedier check-in times and shorter lines. If you’re traveling with a baby who’s a great nighttime sleeper, you should take the risk and travel by night. Fewer passengers also means that you have more room to stretch out on — and sleep on — the seats around you.
Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll be well-rested and ready to travel to your hotel or conference center. You’ll probably land well before morning rush hour, and you’ll actually be able to score a taxi outside of the airport.
Just keep in mind that there is a list of things you can’t bring onto a plane. The list includes alcohol, sharp objects, and protein powder for some reason. Before you pack, check out our definitive list of how to get through the gate.
How to Prepare for a Red-Eye Flight
When you’re booking tickets for a late-night flight, you might want to book flights that leave closer to midnight. You might have trouble falling asleep on an earlier flight, so try to buy tickets for flights that leave at 11 pm or later.
The best thing about flying at night is that you can wear your pajamas. If you’ve got children with you, make sure they wear their pajamas, along with a coat or sweatshirt that’s appropriate for the weather. You don’t want them to lose their socks or shoes, so do a final check before you disembark.
Make sure that you pack any essential stuffed animals and blankets for kids. You want to make them as relaxed as possible so that they can go to sleep in an unfamiliar environment. If they’re restless, there should be enough empty seats that they can sit by themselves and watch a movie on your tablet.
Try to remember to pack a neck pillow or travel-sized pillow, and book a window seat so that you can get some comfortable rest on the plane. Nothing ruins your sleep like someone climbing back and forth over your legs, trying to get to the bathroom.
To find airlines with late-night flights, contact a travel agent or do an online search. Book well in advance to get the lowest prices. In general, Wednesdays are the cheapest day to travel.
Packing for Domestic and International Travel
Once you’ve booked your red-eye flights, it’s time to plan what to take with you. There are a few essential carry-on items that you don’t want to miss.
At the top of the list is bottled water. You will always need water on an airplane trip: something about the recycled air makes everyone dehydrated. You can always buy water at the airport terminal, but they tend to overcharge.
You’ll need to empty your water bottle before you go through security at your destination. If you can find a collapsible water bottle, you can save space and stay healthy while you travel.
You should also bring your laptop or tablet. They really make the time fly when you’re waiting for a flight, and you want to stay in touch while you’re on vacation. Unless you’re trying to get away from social media, make sure you post an update once you’ve landed.
It’s not really necessary to take a hard-sided piece of luggage as your carry-on. You might want to opt for a tote bag that is easier to fit into tight spaces. You will find that it’s easier to find what you’re looking for in an open, roomy backpack or tote.
Finally, bring some food with you on your flight. Peanut butter and jelly is the classic, but granola bars can work too. Bring some baby wipes or individually-wrapped wet wipes along with you as well. Just avoid meat, mayo, and fruits and vegetables that can spoil or leak juice onto your personal items.
Are Late Night Flights for Me?
If you’ve never taken a red-eye flight before, it’s a great way to avoid the crowd. You’ll also get your luggage more quickly and get your vacation underway. Tickets are cheaper, and you can stretch out on an uncrowded airplane.
But red-eye flights are only a good deal if you enjoy traveling at night. If you’re a morning person who goes to bed before 10 pm every night, you might want to stick to your daytime routine. Nighttime travel can be exhausting and disorienting if you’re not a night owl.
If you’re going to be arriving in a new city early in the morning, check with your hotel to see if you can check in before 3pm. That way, you can take a nap and be ready for anything!
Traveling at night is an option on all major airlines. As long as you book your ticket a few months ahead of time and plan accordingly, your late night flights should work out wonderfully.