A red-eye flight is any flight departing late at night and arriving early the next morning. The term red-eye, common in North America, derives from the fatigue symptom of having red eyes, which can be caused or aggravated by late-night travel. The red-eye flight usually flies eastbound. The flight is usually four to six hours, less than seven-hour full sleep, but due to time differences, a red-eye flight that departs around midnight arrives around 6am or 7am. Westbound flights that depart around midnight and arrive in the early morning are also colloquically called red-eye flights, despite the fact that those flights are significantly longer than seven or eight hours.
A red eye flight is one which is too short to have a full-night's sleep on and thus causes significant distress to optic nerves from fatigue. Flights between Los Angeles and New York are a good example, which are approximately six hours long, depart between 10pm to 1am and arrive between 5am to 7am.
- Japan Airlines used to operate red-eye flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo's Haneda, but they have changed to daytime flights. However Cathay Pacific operates one each to Tokyo Narita and Osaka, All Nippon Airways operates red-eye flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo's Haneda twice a week.
- Asiana, Korean Air as well as Cathay Pacific operate red-eye flights from Hong Kong to Seoul as well as Busan by Asiana and Dragonair. Cathay Pacific used to fly red-eye flight from Seoul to Hong Kong, but the flight is now suspended and operate only daytime and evening flights from Seoul to Hong Kong.
- Cathay Pacific operates many red-eye flights outside of Tokyo and Seoul. These include red-eye flights between Hong Kong and cities in Australia and New Zealand in both directions. Cathay Pacific flights that are red-eye only in the Hong Kong-bound direction include those from Bangkok, Singapore. Cathay Pacific flights that are red-eye only from Hong Kong include those to Seoul and parts of Japan. The Vancouver to New York (JFK) tag flight operated by Cathay Pacific is also a red-eye service.
- Flights that leave India and Southwest Asia around midnight arrive in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore early morning.
- Philippine Airlines also operates red-eye flights from Korea and Japan back to Manila, which also have regular late-night flights from Manila to Singapore.
- Many flights from Southeast Asia to Japan, Korea, and China depart in the evenings or around midnight, and land at the destinations in the early morning. There are also flights that depart Japan, Korea, or China around midnight, and arrive in Southeast Asia in the early morning.
- Indonesian airlines operates overnight red-eye flights from Jakarta to the easternmost province of Papua. With a flight time of 4 to 5 hours and 2-hour time difference, most red-eye flights depart shortly before midnight and arrive around 6 am. Garuda Indonesia also operates daily overnight flights to Beijing, leaving Jakarta at midnight and arriving at around 6 A.M.
- Pakistan International Airlines flies red-eye flights to Lahore, Pakistan from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The majority of transcontinental flights are operated during the day, but as of 2010 red-eye flights operate from Perth to Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra and Melbourne, and from Darwin to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Red-eye flights have previously operated from Australia to New Zealand and Fiji. Red-eye flights to Australia operate from various locations in South-East Asia and North America, such as Scoot's flights from Singapore to Gold Coast, Sydney, and Melbourne. Jetstar offers red-eye flights between Melbourne and Wellington with the flight departing Melbourne at 1am and arriving in Wellington at 6am
TAM Airlines, Azul Brazilian Airlines and Gol Transportes Aéreos offer red-eye flights, popularly known as Owl, because of a film session in a late night broadcast by Rede Globo. (Portuguese: Corujão) flights in Brazil, with over 50 different routes throughout Brazil, all departing between 10pm and 6am. Usually these flights originate in Brasília, Belo Horizonte, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo bound for Manaus, Belém, Porto Velho, Northeast Brazil, North America, Argentina and Europe.
There are red-eye flights out of Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Frankfurt and London to Moscow which have flight time of three to five hours. They typically depart around midnight, and arrive around dawn the next day. In 2012, multiple travel agencies offered budget night flights from the Canary Islands or the Cape Verde Islands to the mainland of Europe, also generally having a 3-6 hour flight time. These were operated by airlines such as Transavia, Thomson & Norwegian. Emirates operates red-eye services from most European destinations to Dubai and vice versa.
- Middle East
Royal Jordanian Airlines operate red-eye flights to and from Queen Alia International Airport to Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur. Emirates & Air Arabia has some red-eye flights (U.A.E to India).
Russian airlines operate similarly to U.S. airlines by connecting Moscow to Yakutsk, Irkutsk, and Vladivostock. They last 5–8 hours but due to the northerly latitude the flights can cross as many as 8 time zones during this interval, drastically enlarging the time difference. 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 14:00 Vladivostok Time on next day (Flight time is 8 hours).
- United States and Canada
Red-eye flights frequently connect West Coast cities to East Coast cities. These typically depart the West Coast between 10 pm and 1 am, have a flight time of 3–6 hours but lose 2–4.5 hours due to the time difference, and arrive between 5 am and 7 am. Red-eye flights also connect Hawaii or Alaska with West Coast mainland cities. Furthermore, flights from Tokyo to Honolulu are considered red-eye flights, as the flights are usually overnight flights that are around six hours.
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, or have curfews for noise reasons, limiting the number of airports from which red-eye flights can depart.
- Harper, Douglas. "Red-eye". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- Gol pede autorização permanente para operar vôo noturno Folha Online. Retrieved on April 07, 2009.
- TAM lança ofertas corujão a partir de R$ 79,50 Rotas e Trilhas. Retrieved on April 07, 2009.