The Pros & Cons of Taking a Red-Eye Flight

Airport Lounge and airplane take off in the city


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Waiting for a night flight in airport

Red-Eye Alert

Budget-conscious travelers know the struggle of crawling out of bed in the middle of the night with bloodshot eyes to catch a late-night (or is it early morning?) flight. Red-eyes (the name makes so much sense now), are long-haul overnight flights that typically operate between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Though these flights are usually more affordable due to their less desirable travel times, they can be exhausting. If you're considering catching a red-eye, we've outlined the pros and cons so you can decide whether it's worth it. 

Related: The Most Punctual Airline in 2022

Girl holds tickets, boarding passes for a flight.
Zhanna Danilova/istockphoto

Pro: It's Cheaper

Generally, red-eye flights tend to be quite a bit cheaper compared with flights that depart during the day, because there’s lower demand for overnight travel. Airlines will typically also slash prices on red-eye flights as an incentive to get more people to book during off-peak travel times. 

A woman at the airport holding a passport with a boarding pass

Pro: It Allows You to Seize the Day

By taking a red-eye, travelers can reach their destination early in the morning — allowing them to make the most of their time instead of wasting it on a long flight during the day. Just be sure to bring a comfortable neck pillow so you can catch some Zs and wake up feeling refreshed. 

Lisbon International Airport

Pro: It's Less Likely to be Delayed

Since airports are less busy at night, red-eye flights are usually more punctual and less likely to be delayed or canceled; you can also expect a quicker and more seamless process getting through TSA or while checking in. Since red-eyes are usually the first scheduled flight of that day, they are more likely to arrive and depart on time. 

Traffic jam with rows of cars

Pro: You Skip Rush Hour Traffic

Though it can be exhausting waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning, catching a red-eye means you'll likely also avoid the hectic morning rush, which can be especially beneficial for those traveling to and from busy cities. Pro tip: If you're taking an Uber or Lyft to the airport, schedule your ride in advance so you can focus on just getting up and getting going.

Young woman places luggage in airline overhead bin
SDI Productions/istockphoto

Pro: It's Less Crowded

Red-eye flights are often less crowded, allowing travelers more room to stretch out and get some needed rest. (Hooray for extra legroom!) With fewer passengers aboard, you'll also have more overhead bin space and will likely spend less time waiting for luggage to arrive at baggage claim.

Man in private jet airplane

Pro: You're More Likely to Get Bumped to Business or First Class

Since red-eyes are usually less full than regular flights, your chances of getting bumped up to business or first class are also higher. Agents are more likely to give you an upgrade if you ask nicely and look the part (so get those suits ready). Airlines are also more likely to upgrade passengers who have a more flexible schedule and are willing to switch to a later or earlier flight.

Lady traveling napping on a plain.

Con: It Can Be Exhausting

Since red-eye flights require travelers to stay up late or wake up super early, this can lead to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Getting quality sleep on a plane can prove difficult — especially if flying coach, or if there are crying babies seated near you. Lack of sleep and exposure to recycled air can lead to health issues such as severe jet lag, a compromised immune system, and dehydration.

Late Night Flight

Con: Limited Amenities and Flight Options

Some red-eye flights may have limited in-flight amenities and entertainment options, making the flight less enjoyable. Furthermore, not all airlines provide evening flights (some offer only daytime routes), and the number of available flights will be less than during the day.

Exhausted female passenger waiting for her re-scheduled/delayed flight

Con: You Can Arrive Too Early

Arriving at the destination at an early hour may not be convenient for those who need to check into a hotel or have plans that don't start until later in the day. There's nothing worse than having to wait around in an airport — especially if you couldn’t rest during a flight because of passengers talking loudly or using their overheard lights.