Traveling Executive, blog, CEO, travel, road warrior, frequent flier, business travel

Red-Eyes: Masochistic or Multitasking?

Forget religion. Forget politics. I have found that one of the more polarizing topics among travelers is red-eye flights. People either love them or hate them. It’s rare to find a person who is ambivalent on the issue.

On one hand, they’re torture. Packed into tight quarters with complete strangers, crying babies, and startling cockpit announcements. The not-quite-sleep that most humans experience sitting up for hours at a time leave most weary travelers stumbling off the plane dazed and confused.

Still, the allure of red-eyes is sometimes hard to resist. For traveling executives, late-night departures offer the ultimate multitasking scenario. You can finish a full business day, grab a real dinner (as opposed to faux airport food), launch some emails in the club lounge, and then take a snooze while a team of trained flight professionals safely guide you toward your destination.

I both love and hate overnight flights. I do my best to avoid them but sometimes they make the most sense. In fact, I’m writing this blog at 12:02 a.m. PST/3:02 a.m. EST, somewhere over Oklahoma, according the the flight tracker on my airline app.

If I’m going to commit to a red-eye, there’s a few rules of thumb I follow in order to minimize the discomfort of the process:

  • I make sure I have enough points to upgrade to First Class for that portion of the itinerary. It’s worth the investment for a bit more elbow room.
  • I make sure I pack a casual outfit. Sleeping in a suit and heels is not ideal.
  • Water, earbuds, and MINTS.
  • In my younger years, I’d hop off a red-eye in Dulles and head to the office or schedule meetings as soon as I get through customs in London. I no longer have that much faith in my tired brain’s abilities. Block your schedule, take a nap and a shower, and prioritize moving swiftly back into human mode.

And if you happen to stir at the right time, it’s pretty stunning to see the sun rise or set from the sky. The colors just feel a bit different up there, don’t they?


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