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Red-eye flight: Wikis


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A red-eye flight is any flight operated by an airline departing late at night. The term red-eye derives from the fatigue symptom of having red eyes, which can be caused or aggravated by overnight travel.

A red-eye flight typically moves from west to east during the overnight hours. It departs late at night, lasts only about three to five hours, an insufficient period to get fully rested in flight, and due to rapid forward time zone changes the aircraft lands around dawn. As a result, many travelers are unable to get sufficiently rested before a new day of activity. From a marketing standpoint, the flights allow business travelers an opportunity to migrate eastward without having an impact on a full business day.

Most eastward transatlantic crossings from North America to Europe are operated overnight, but are generally not viewed as red-eye flights since they depart early in the evening and last at least seven hours. A full night's rest is theoretically possible as this is close to the seven to nine hours of nightly sleep recommended by the US National Sleep Foundation.



  • Asia. All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines operate red-eye flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo's Haneda. Asiana, Korean Air as well as Cathay Pacific operate red-eye flights from Hong Kong to Incheon near Seoul. Cathay Pacific also operates such flights from Hong Kong to Sydney, and many flights from Southeast Asia to Japan and Korea. All depart during evenings or around midnights, and lands at the destinations in the early morning. Flights that leave India and Southwest Asia at night between 11 P.M. and 1 A.M. arrive in Singapore, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur between 5 A.M. and 8:30 A.M.
  • Australia. The majority of transcontinental flights are operated during the day, but as of 2009 Qantas was operating one red-eye flight each from Perth to Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Melbourne.
  • Brazil. TAM Airlines and Gol Transportes Aéreos both offer red-eye flights, called Big Owl (Portuguese: Corujão) flights in Brazil, with over fifty different routes throughout Brazil, all departing between 10 pm and 6 am.[1][2]
  • Europe. A few overnight flights from Europe to the Middle East and to Russia were being operated in 2009, all of which had a flight time of three to six hours and departed in mid-evening, arriving around dawn the next day. A good example are Malév Hungarian Airlines' Beirut, Damascus and Larnaca flights, which all leave around 23.10-23.35 from Budapest local time, arrive in the Middle East around 3:30 local time, then turn around, and finally arrive back to Budapest around 6:00 in the morning
  • Russia. Russian airlines operate similar to U.S. airlines by connecting Moscow to Yakutsk, Irkutsk, and Vladivostok with overnight red-eye flights. Russian transcontinental flights only last 5 to 8 hours but due to the northerly latitude the flights can cross as many as 8 time zones during this interval, drastically shortening the overnight experience. The flights depart Moscow around 6 pm and arrive at the eastern cities around 6 am the next day. One of the current examples of red-eye flight is Aeroflot's SU783 from Moscow to Magadan, departing 23:05 Moscow time and arriving 15:00 Magadan time on next day (flight lasts 8 hours, and so is time difference).
  • United States and Canada. Red-eye flights connect West Coast cities to Central and East Coast cities. These typically depart the west coast around 10pm to 12am local, have a flight time of 3-5 hours but lose two to three hours due to time zone changes, and arrive around 5 am- 7am. Red-eye flights also connect Hawaii and Alaska with West Coast mainland cities.[1]

Other meanings

The term can refer to any overnight flight which travels in the opposite direction to the Earth's rotation, i.e., east to west. The term may also be used to refer to many long-distance international flights which are long, even though the aircraft may never travel through a time zone that is in darkness.


In addition to allowing passengers to have a full day at both the departure and destination city and travel by night, red-eye flights operate for the following reasons:

  • Repositioning aircraft and flight crew for the following day's schedule
  • Increasing the utilization of aircraft in a company's fleet
  • Providing additional service to lower cost markets
  • Allowing the airline to advertise lower fares to some destinations
  • Allowing passengers to connect to morning flights

In the 1930s and 1940s, red-eye flights were not possible, as most airports did not have the equipment necessary to work at night. There are still airports that do not function after certain hours, so red-eye flights can take off only from those airports that are operational after midnight.


  1. ^ Gol pede autorização permanente para operar vôo noturno Folha Online. Retrieved on April 07, 2009.
  2. ^ TAM lança ofertas corujão a partir de R$ 79,50 Rotas e Trilhas. Retrieved on April 07, 2009.


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