I’m back! Maybe. Hopefully. I have several posts banging around in my head and think I have time to write again. So let’s get on with it. . .
Last week I took a red eye flight from San Francisco to Atlanta to present at a conference. This was my first time on a red eye and my first time flying across that many U.S. time zones in one go (international travel doesn’t count, as it’s a whole other ballgame). It wasn’t quite what I expected.
Red Eye Misconception #1: The flight wouldn’t be as full.
I’d always heard that late night flights were appealing because they weren’t as packed. Boarding would be smoother and empty seats would leave room for spreading out. Nope. This flight was 100% full even after bumping a few volunteers. Coming home, I landed at the same gate at 11pm and saw a similar crowd waiting to fly out.
Red Eye Misconception #2: The flight would mostly be adults.
Again, nope. Lots of kids, several toddlers, and even one infant. We didn’t board until 11:30 and those toddlers were in that extreme-hyper-to-avoid-sleep phase. You parents know what I’m talking about. This might have been a product of the flight distance – I can see the appeal of taking my kids cross-country during a time they would easily fall asleep once belted into a seat. And – despite the nervous energy at the gate – they were quiet on the flight.
Red Eye Misconception #3: The flight would be cheaper.
And another nope. This flight was the same price as daytime options. It was about $20 less than other non-stop options; that is a plus, but not a huge one. I mean, $20 is $20, but that isn’t enough of a discount to compensate me for the inconvenience (if price was the only reason I was flying at midnight).
That brings me to a big plus of this flight – it was nonstop. I’d gladly fly out at any time to go 2500 miles without having to change planes. Living in Little Rock, it was next to impossible to go any large distance nonstop. I’m enjoying this big city perk.
And of course, you take the red eye so you can sleep. That was nice, but my internal clock lost four hours so it wasn’t quite as helpful as it might had been if I was traveling the other direction. Overall, I’ve always enjoyed evening flights more and the red eye was no exception.
Another plus – congestion at the Atlanta airport at 7:30am was well above manageable. I stopped to go to the bathroom then picked up a coffee and by the time I reached baggage the first class* luggage was already taking a ride on the carousel. No line for a taxi either. I was at my hotel downtown within half an hour of walking off the airplane.
In this case, I picked the red eye because I needed to make it to Atlanta with enough time to take a short nap and put in a full day of work in my hotel room. I could have worked all day Wednesday in my office and traveled to Atlanta that evening, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t as jetlagged for my Thursday morning panel. That went great, by the way. Standing room only for our session and excellent feedback afterwards. I was talking about a couple of projects I worked on at my last job and it was a really nice send-off for something I’m passionate about and hated to leave behind.
*I’ve mentioned this before, but when I fly alone I like to fly first class so I have room for my fat ass.