Sleeping on a plane can be very frustrating or a very rewarding experience. Your preparation has a lot to do with sneaking an extra days worth of fun out of your trip by returning eastbound on a red-eye flight.
Domestic US carriers schedule many flights with late night departures from the west coast and Hawaii to eastern destinations as they are able to keep their planes working all night long. By leaving at 11 PM to 1 AM the flights can arrive on the east coast for an early morning return west the next day.
On many occasions you will find more availability, lower prices and actually more award availability on red-eyes.
Our recent quickie trip to Hawaii using a red-eye return gave us a full day on Kauai as we did not leave the island until 8 PM to catch our red-eye flight from Honolulu scheduled at 11:15 PM to Denver. I really enjoyed the extra day on the Garden Island and got a full night’s sleep on the 7 hour flight back east.
I have several personal suggestions that work for me.
I look at the flight load when booking my flight. If a flight leaves at 11PM that is fairly full and the next leaves at midnight empty, I’m flying at midnight with an extra vacation hour. If the flight is going out empty and you’re traveling on a wide body jet, there are often many rows of completely empty seats. After takeoff, or even after the boarding doors has closed I grab a seat in an empty row and start to set up my nest. A pillow on one seat, book on another, computer on the end seat, subtly lets the rest of the passengers know you are going horizontal as soon as possible and they won’t intrude. It is a bold move but the attendants don’t care. Before retiring for the evening is sure to buckle a seat belt around your waist and keep it visible or they will wake you if the seat belt sign goes on.
I’m a big guy and need at least a three across empty row to go horizontal. I prefer a four and love a center section five across all to myself. I have even bought chocolates for the gate agents to have them help me find an empty row and they can sometimes steer late arrivers away from your bed in the sky.
If I have a choice of a First Class or Business Seat that does not recline a full 180 degrees, I would much rather have a four or five across row in economy on a redeye.
If I am going to be partially sitting up, a window seat is a must for me. It provides just a touch more personal space and a place to lean your head while sleeping. If you’re asleep and on an aisle the odds are good you’ll get bumped into and awaken.
I cut out all caffeine products no later than 6PM and try to stay hydrated as the planes are so dry at times I wake up just from the dryness.
Noise canceling earphones or ear buds help cut out the distractions which can lead to an easier time falling asleep.
And lastly is a sleeping aid. I am NOT a doctor. I am NOT giving medical advice. That can only be handled between you and your physician.
There are many non prescription sleep aids that work for people.
Tylenol PM, Benadryl and Meclizine, the sea sickness pill often work wonders as a sleep aid.
I fly so often I have a prescription for Ambien regular, (not CR) which works just fine for me. I only take it on redeye flights and personally have had no negative effects. Ambien is a PRESCRIPTION medication.
Again, if you are going to be using these products, consult your doctor before taking any sleep aid medication.
By following these simple suggestions last night’s Honolulu to Denver 7 hour flight lasted about 10 minutes for me. I never heard the announcement allowing the use of electronic equipment when we reached 10,000 feet and was awakened by the announcement of “store your tray tables and electronic equipment. We will be landing in ten minutes.”
Pleasant Dreams Redeye Fans