Pourquoi devriez-vous toujours voler les yeux rougesjuillet 29, 2019
Everyone who hates flying has their own way of mitigating airport stress, from delicious snacks to heavy-duty anxiety meds to showing up 8 hours before takeoff. Mine is a little unusual: as a card-carrying Nervous Wreck, if I have to get on a plane, it had better be a red-eye—especially if I’m crossing multiple timezones.
There are several reasons for this, but the biggest one is simple: I suck at sleeping in my own bed, let alone in a cramped seat in a noisy, claustrophobic metal tube hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet. Red-eyes leave my body no choice but to get some sleep, so I feel a little bit less like death warmed over when I land. (It also increases the likelihood that I’ll adjust to a new timezone sometime before I leave, which is always a plus.)
But maybe you’re the type of person who can nap anywhere, anytime, and still fall right asleep that night—or who understands jet lag only in the abstract, because it’s never been a problem. Although I certainly can’t relate, red-eyes offer plenty of perks unrelated to sleep. In my opinion, they’re the flight for people who hate flying. Here’s why.
Sleeping is easier at night
Napping is, without question, the best way to pass the time on a long flight. Even if I have a great book or infinite podcasts to distract me, I always end up looking at the time and getting pissed off at how many hours there are between me and getting off this goddamn plane. If I’m fast asleep, I have no way of knowing how slowly time is passing—but I can’t sleep on a plane unless I’m completely exhausted.
Flights that take off at—or well past—my usual bedtime make it possible for me, a lifelong insomniac, to actually fall asleep. By the time I’ve dragged myself all the way to the airport, through security, and onto the plane, chances are good that total exhaustion will win out over my anxiety jitters for once. It’s not exactly high-quality sleep, but it sure beats the alternative. This isn’t to say that a red-eye will never disrupt your sleep schedule, just that it’s easier to fall asleep on a plane at 11 P.M. than 11 A.M.—not to mention less jarring when you wake up.
Red-eyes are less likely to screw up your schedule
Obviously, going to sleep in one place and waking up in another will always be a little disorienting, especially if you crossed several timezones to get there. But the less a flight disrupts your normal daily schedule, the easier it will be to adapt on the other side.
If you usually start your day at 7 A.M., getting off a plane around then gives you the best possible shot at having a relatively normal day—especially if you slept for most of the flight. A relatively normal first day in a new timezone helps you delay your first jet lag nap as long as possible, which in turn makes it easier to maintain a relatively normal schedule for the rest of the trip.
They’re usually cheaper and less packed than early flights
Red-eyes are usually low on most people’s list of flight time preferences, which means that airlines need to provide incentives to get travelers to book them anyway. They usually do this by lowering fares, which could mean that a red-eye is the cheapest way to get where you’re going. Another neat little side effect is that red-eyes are rarely overbooked—the chance of getting a whole row to yourself is higher on a red-eye than any daytime flight.
There’s less stress on both ends
Even if you’re a freak of nature who sleeps like a rock on planes and has never had jet lag even once, there’s a good chance you don’t love participating in the increasingly elaborate performance art that is airport security. Red-eyes make that part a lot easier, too. Most people book daytime flights, especially if they’re traveling for work, which means that airports calm down significantly at night. For people who find the airport way more stressful than the flight itself, this is a pretty significant advantage.
Traveling during off-hours makes every other part of your trip easier, too. Getting to the airport on time for a 10 or 11 P.M. flight is very low-stakes because rush hour has long since ended—and once you get there, TSA and checked baggage lines will be short and move quickly, at least compared to earlier in the day. Then, depending on timezone changes, you’ll arrive at your destination well before the morning rush. The end result: red-eyes let you spend less time waiting in TSA and customs lines and more time doing literally anything else. If that’s not enough to convince you, I don’t know what will.