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.