Travel blog by a global nomad

27 Nov

Who takes red-eye flights?

Apparently parents with young families and idiots like me with ‘Use it or loose it’ unrefundable credit with an airline…

But that said, it’s weird that taking a flight for 8, 12 or even 16 hours (as one tortuous flight from Los Angelese to New Zealand once was – yes, I didn’t know planes could stay in the air that long either…) usually entails either a very long day or a very long night. Its endurable and rarely are such long distance flights called “red eye” – probably because they entail crossing time zones – lots of them.

Yet to fly a 3-4 hour flight and arrive tired, tossled and jet lagged from a short night is rough! Such was what I endured on an overnight red-eye flight from Vancouver to Toronto. That means I leave Vancouver at the quite civilised hour of 11pm – just the right time to go to sleep right (unless you are like me and not one who can sleep on a short flight if you haven’t been travelling for 48 hours or more…), but arrive in Toronto a scant 3.5 hours later (because the prevailing winds blew us across at a blistering 620km/hr). And of course, its 6.30am there… the day has begun even though my body is struggling to be awake at what it percieves as being 3.30am…

I blearily walked out of the plane, glanced at the screens – my connecting flight was 4 gates away, except in Toronto that apparently translated as practically the next terminal… I staggered there… got a hot chocolate, and then made the mistake of using the rest rooms.

Surrounded by bright and perky Torontan’s, I looked (and felt) like a wreck! My hair had become limp and greasy (only planes seem to take freshly washed hair and wreck it withing a few hours…). My eyes felt swollen – and to my horror, when I looked in the mirror, they were swollen! Worse, they were red and blotchy! And what people couldn’t see was the constant eruption of red hot sand behind my eyes….

Sighing, I staggered over to the gate. I was the first there and the seats were a very unpromising hard green leather with chrome. I sat down and thought I’d finish my drink playing a game of sudoku, but my mind couldn’t focus and even though the game was marked ‘easy’ I still botched it up twice…

When I looked up from my game (a game which took 3 times longer than usual to work out), I realised the lounge had filled up with frazzled, bleary eyed young parents with anywhere between 1 and 4 kids. They were all in various stages from ordering spread out and fast asleep, fussing over beyond tired kids who were just crying and crying and trying to get them to sleep on the seats, to ordering hyperactive kids to sleep. I hastily spread out my bags to cover 3 seats adjacent to me…

I decided since I had 4 hours to kill before my flight (and only know was it dawning on me.. I was about to leave Canada and I had yet to show my passport to anyone resembling a passport official?). Overhead a TV played something… but very annoyingly, the Air Canada advert jingle that is played on their planes was constantly being played – and I wasn’t even flying Air Canada! It was very irritiating – bad enough I have to hear it every time I start a new program on Air Canada’s inflight system!

At first, I was heavily distracted by the constant noise from people chatting as they walked to their gates, security guards trundling by with carts or in carts, kids giggling and shrieking – and the annoying TV ads… And then magically, it all faded away.

Silence. Black out. For the first time in over 24 hours, I was asleep.

At first I became aware of the annoying ad jingle playing. Then of the incredible volume of people talking all around me. Then the carts of the security guards. I was back in the airport. I raised my arm. 9am. I had managed to grab about an hour of blissful sleep before waking up and still had 2 hours before departure. I tried to return to the land of nod, but I was awake now. Not happily! Body protesting loudly and red hot sand in eyes now almost blinding me! But I wasn’t going back to sleep. I slowly hoisted myself vertical, my thighs protesting heavily from having been pressed against the hard leather seats.

So I sat there like a zombie as more and more bright and perky people arrived at the gate. They squeezed their way between the sleeping families, and as they gradually woke up as well, quickly nabbed the seats formerly taken by their supine bodies.

I guess this is why there comes  a point where people start to ache to fly business class. I’ve long past that point but it still doesn’t seem to be my destiny to fly business class. Worse, even business class facilities don’t necessarily offer beds or even reclining chairs! They just offer more comfortable chairs…

And I can’t believe that later this month, I will be doing another red-eye effort! After years of only long distance flights, returning to shorter hopes with true red-eye horrors, and twice in 1 month!!! Horrors!!!!

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One Response to “Who takes red-eye flights?”

  1. 1
    Meg Says:

    Have you ever had a fly-in-fly-out job? I’ve been doing weekly two-hour flights (either at 6am before a 12-hour day or at 5pm after a 12-hour day) and let me tell you – it is EXCELLENT training for airplane sleep. I estimate that 75% of the time I am asleep before the plane pulls away from the boarding dock. This includes a 4-hour flight to Singapore, in which I dozed off before we pulled away and woke to a “Dong! Attention ladies and gentlemen… we have begun our descent into Singapore…” I followed this up by sleeping through 20 of the next 24 hours of plane time. FIFO! Can’t recommend it enough!

    Good luck with your travels….

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