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red-eye flight advice?

I'm back, at work. I would prefer to be in bed, but I want to get some things done before schlepping home again. And I know enough to not mess up my schedule by sleeping all afternoon.

So, part of me thinks taking red-eye flights west-east is the Right Idea. If you get an OK amount of sleep, it works. Time-zone shifts are easier; and you don't lose a daytime-day to travel.

The other part thinks they're from hell. I've taken... a handful now, and a few of them have been miserable. The worst one was on a plane that was so dry the whole plane was sniffling and coughing all night. Last night's was probably the second-worst. I really wanted to get four hours of sleep (from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh).

Instead I had a seat in the next-to-last row on a US Air 757, which I've decided I'll never do again on a red-eye, because the flight attendants sat one row back and were quite active all night long; in the seats and in the service area at the rear of the plane. Plus the service area's lights were on so it was bright as bright could be. Also it was dry, though that was manageable.

I'm not sure what other lesson I should've taken, other than to fly first-class if I can. Which, unsurprisingly, I haven't been able to.

I looked for other empty seats, and there weren't any that I'd feel comfortable asking people about (we were spaced two people in each 3-person set), all the way up the plane.

I had earplugs, ipod, hat (which blocked most of the light), neck-pillow (which helped), and plane-pillow and blanket (which also helped block the light). I also had water, which helped with the dryness.

So, right now my only lesson is, avoid the very rear of 757s (maybe all planes?) over-night. Maybe this should've been obvious to me. It's never actually come up as a problem before (in fact, the very first time I flew internationally, I stretched out at the very rear, and it was totally quiet). Though that was a different plane, and maybe I'm mis-remembering.

Any other red-eye flight advice? Theoretically, I may need it in the future. :) Maybe, don't take red-eyes?..

I considered drinking a few beers, but the one time I tried that, it didn't seem to make me more able to sleep, it just made me need to get up after a few hours to use the washroom. I've also heard of people taking booze with a sleeping pill, which doesn't really seem like a good idea either, since I hate sleeping pills (and Valerian pills don't seem to help in this situation for me, though they do work at home).

...as far as this flight went, I ended up with maybe two hours of sleep on the long leg, followed by an hour (at least) in Pittsburgh, and an hour on the plane to Buffalo. Not as bad as an all-nighter, but I'm sure I'd have been happier with a few more hours of sleep.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 31st, 2006 06:50 pm (UTC)
I avoid the back of the plane just because it's so much noisier back there.
May. 31st, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
Hm, is it much? I mean, apart from the clattering from the galley? I thought planes that large handled engine noise well enough... Though maybe it was quieter toward the middle. I want to do an experiment now, but it'll have to wait two weeks for the next time I'm on a plane.

If the tradeoff were between slightly more noise, and fewer passengers, I'm not sure which would be my choice. I think for me, if I'm going to sleep, leg/arm-room might win, because I don't mind the engine sound while I'm sleeping. At least, compared with the likelihood of somebody jostling me from the next seat over.

It's funny, the calculus of what-works-for-us for sleeping...
May. 31st, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
I really think the mistake you made was in not doing the JetBlue route. SMF->JFK is a real redeye; it's a 5-1/2 hour flight, and you also get on it right when you'd want to be asleep. I think the problem is these dinky "redeyes" like DEN->BWI or the like; LAS->PIT is similarly too short.

When I flew from here to BOS last month, I took the extra leg to LAX just so that I could have a longer redeye. I knew I'd be getting to Boston at the same time no matter what, and it only added an hour to the overall trip. I think it was the right idea.

*hug* I didn't sleep well, either...
May. 31st, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC)
Hm, yes, I agree completely... SMF->JFK would've been a much better choice. Likely, /that's/ the take-home message, rather than whether 757s are less suited to sleeping at the tail.

Hope you can sleep tonight. In all likelihood, it'll be thunderstorming here... the second round just started...
May. 31st, 2006 07:48 pm (UTC)
Sleeping in vehicles sucks, especially if the trip is less than 8 hours. I would only take a red-eye if it saved me significant money, and I could sleep more upon arrival.

Why not fly when you're awake, and bring a book or project that requires a few not-very-interrupted hours?
May. 31st, 2006 08:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, I don't mind sleeping in vehicles. I have always found car-travel to be soporific, especially if it's dark out. Planes are less so, mostly due to seat-angles and random disturbances like aisle-mates... I guess I'm perfectly happy to nap on a plane, if it's sufficiently calm; trying to get a full night's sleep is of course tougher.

You're right that I could've rearranged work/fun projects. I don't have any work-work that goes on a plane (it's all live computers/network stuff) but I probably could've found something useful to do that didn't require network.

It's remarkable to me to realize how my time-spending decisions would be different if we had wifi in the air. I could basically do most of my job from a laptop, then.
May. 31st, 2006 08:57 pm (UTC)
Lufthansa has wifi. It's US$25, I think, for the duration, or $10 for an hour.
May. 31st, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
They're even Star Alliance.

*thinks up excuses to fly to Europe again*

May. 31st, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
I think I'll be flying them at the end of the Barcelona/Moscow trip...

Oh, shit. I need to do some futzing for that. *sigh*
May. 31st, 2006 08:57 pm (UTC)
They're not all that awful, as long as you can get to your hotel immediately.

I can't work on planes; there's no space to sprawl out, no refridgerator, and I actually find being on a plane really exhausting, so I never can get anything done.
May. 31st, 2006 10:47 pm (UTC)
Heh. Could you work in first class? Apart from interruptions asking you if you want more food/drink...
May. 31st, 2006 10:52 pm (UTC)
Probably. But that's expensive. Better to sleep...
Jun. 1st, 2006 03:46 am (UTC)
ugh.. flights
hey there D... welcome back!

Thought I'd try out the openID thingy I created and hooked to my own and hardly ever posted to blog.

Yuck on flights and sitting around airports. Though for your next redeye I might suggest one of those eyemasks if you end up in the back again.. the kind that feel good on the face and make everything dark. That and some good soothing sounds on the ipod maybe? Like ocean waves or other sleep inducing noise. (in the music category, perhaps some good 'new age' space type music?)

Looking foward to seeing you in a few weeks. Oh.. and waving hi to Dan!

Jun. 1st, 2006 03:51 am (UTC)
Re: ugh.. flights
I'll be darned, open ID actually works. ;)

Actually, i've found the music that puts me to sleep the best is Laurie Anderson. New age just makes me bored. :)

I'd try out one of those eye-masks. The gel-filled ones? I don't know anyone who's used one, and the one time I tried putting one to my face, in a store, it felt weird 'n gel-like.
Jun. 1st, 2006 04:29 am (UTC)
Re: ugh.. flights
Wow! You! So cool!

When are you visiting my sweetie?
Jun. 1st, 2006 11:49 am (UTC)
Re: ugh.. flights
June 18th, when our conference at Ryerson is done with. :-) I'm so looking forward to Toronto, I haven't had a good road trip in a while!

hey.. and congrats ahead of time for Canada Day! Hopefully we'll get to see you one of these days too! So when you guys are home and rested later this year, think about a visit to the lower 48 and southern Vermont!

Daniel.. re the eye covers.. I wasn't necessarily thinking of a gel one, just one that darkens everything, for sleeping.

Jun. 1st, 2006 03:03 pm (UTC)
Re: ugh.. flights
Hm, I wonder if you get an email note when I reply here. If so, openID's pretty cool.

I think I tried regular eye-covers once. Didn't like the feeling of them over my eyes... Though, they might be worth another shot.
Jun. 1st, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
In addition to the "must wake up enough to whiz" effect of a few beers, alcoholic beverages tend to be dehydrating. I find building a base level of hydration for a few days before anything that I know will me feeling low on oil works much better than non-diuretic drinks in the few hours before the flight (or party or phase of the moon).

You probably shouldn't take advice from someone who drinks hot tisanes and teas on miserably sticky days to cool down.
Jun. 1st, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, dehydration on planes == not good.

You probably shouldn't take advice from someone who drinks hot tisanes and teas on miserably sticky days to cool down.

Hm, not my choice, but reminds me of a science-teacher I know, whose son (12ish) took long hot showers on sweltering days. So when he got out of the shower, it was an improvement.

(See what happens when you teach a kid the scientific method? They go and think for themselves. And we know how much trouble that'll make).
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )