Why Booking The Red Eye Is The Savvy Traveler's Secret Weapon

While flying to a vacation destination can be exciting, it's also quite stress-inducing for a lot of folks. From shlepping through TSA to waiting 40 minutes for your morning Starbucks pick-me-up, flying can be far from the best part of your trip. Over 50% of travelers are worried about missing their flights, over 60% are worried they'll lose their baggage, and over 40% are even worried about losing their kids (via Forbes). Although it's impossible to make flying a completely stress-free activity, there are ways that travelers can reduce their worry when they're making their way to their final destination.

Some airlines — like United, Delta, and JetBlue — offer meditation content via Headspace on their flights, yet there is one very simple way that passengers can take their flight experience into their own hands (per Inc.). This isn't about saving money by booking months in advance or which day of the week brings cheaper flights. Rather this solution is all about timing your flight just right — by taking the redeye.

Get through the airport faster

Here's the thing: A lot of people don't like taking redeye flights, which is why you will likely experience the airport at its most deserted. In-person check-in takes a lot less time, security lines are much shorter, and you won't have as many passengers to move past while walking through the terminals (via One Travel). Because you'll be spending much less time trying to get through the airport to your gate, you'll be less stressed about missing your flight or getting held up by lines.

For example, at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the TSA wait time data suggests about 32 minutes in line from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. with a 1-minute wait time from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. That wait goes up to 2 minutes from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., and up slightly again to 3 minutes from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Those times are the shortest at the airport all day according to their wait time data. A lot of airports also offer their wait time data online if you're curious about your home airport's information ahead of flying.

Have more space on the plane

Part of the reason why people avoid redeye flights is that they want to get a decent night's sleep. With the space confines of an airplane, it can be difficult or even impossible to get comfortable enough to sleep. Luckily, redeye flights tend to be less crowded, which means you might luck out with more space. You're more likely to get an empty seat beside you on a redeye since fewer people fly late at night (per Cheap Flights). While you shouldn't count on not having a row buddy or two, you can also potentially move to another seat once the plane is fully boarded or during the flight. (It's standard procedure to double-check with the flight attendants before moving.)

You might even get luckier on a redeye with an entire row to yourself, which is fairly common if you book a single ticket, according to Aeroclass. Pro tip: Keep checking your flight app and move yourself to an unoccupied row to help ensure no seatmates for a better night's sleep. The closer you are to boarding time, the more likely it is that no one will be seated next to you.

Save money on airfare

Airlines are well aware that redeye flights aren't as popular, which is why they normally price them lower than other flights. By making them cheaper, the airlines incentivize their customers to book these off-peak flight times, according to Alternative Airlines. You can check the pricing competition by using the sorting option on the airline's website to change the flight list from being listed by times to being listed by price from lowest to highest. While the redeye won't always be the cheapest option, it's most likely to save you money.

Take advantage of that price difference by getting yourself a window seat for even more room and be sure to drink lots of water to cut down on any jet lag, suggests Skyscanner. Redeyes are also the least likely to be overbooked, meaning you're very unlikely to get bumped from the flight. So you're paying less to fly and most likely getting bonus space because so few other passengers are flying then too? That's a win-win.

Save that PTO

A major perk to flying a redeye is that you can still work a full workday before heading out of town. That's one way to save your paid time off (PTO) or vacation days for more fun adventures rather than just another travel day. One Travel suggests this method for a long weekend, so you only have to use one vacation day instead of two by working Friday and taking off Monday. By doing as One Travel suggests — leaving Friday night and returning Monday night — you're maximizing your vacation time from work and maximizing the time you get on vacation at the same time!

Plus, if you work a whole day before a redeye, you're more likely to be tired, and you're going to want to be tired for one of these flights so you can get some sleep even at 20,000 feet. So save your PTO for a non-travel day to wear yourself out.

Don't mess with your schedule

When folks travel really early in the morning, they might eat breakfast hours before they normally would. But with a redeye, you can still eat your meals at all the normal times, keep your wakeup routine at home the same, and even have the same work schedule if you so choose. Anytime you can keep your schedule at its normal pace, the easier it is to acclimate to a new location or destination.

Listening to your body's needs is one way to ensure your redeye doesn't mess you up, says Benjamin Smarr to Self. "Sleep, exercise, and eat on local time before you leave so that your body gets the same time information to all organs, no matter what cues they're sensitive to," he says. "Getting bright light [during] the day is also important, just like making sure it's dark when you sleep." Because you're able to largely keep the same routine until the flight at night, redeyes are a great way to maintain normalcy for as long as possible, which can cut down on jet lag or exhaustion when you're finally at your destination.