What to Do When the Only Nonstop Flight is a Redeye


What Do You Do When Your Only Nonstop Flight Option is a Redeye Overnight Flight? This is our clients' situation, on a flight we booked months ago, when it was a daytime flight. The flight has now changed to depart about 11 hours later, on a flight that's between 5-6 hours, so their arrival time at the destination will be ~4am based on their origin city. The flight is operated by Alaska Airlines, which of course doesn't offer any flat bed seats even in business class, so needless to say, they're not thrilled.


Are New Flights Cheaper? Receive a Refund and Rebook

Airlines have been changing many of their flights, not only for this past summer, but also for the remainder of 2022 (also see PSA: Monitor Your Flights for Time and Aircraft Changes). Fortunately, if the airline significantly changes your flight time or aircraft type and thus seating, you can cancel the flight and have the cost refunded back to your original form of payment. Naturally you'll want to check if ticket costs have increased or decreased; if they've increased since you originally purchased your ticket, you'll want to keep your original fare and have the airline move your flight to one that works for you.

But if fares have decreased, as they had in our clients' case, you're best off cancelling and getting refunded, then repurchasing at the lower fare.


Getting Rest on an Alaska Airlines Redeye

In our experience, Alaska Airlines has friendly staff, but terrible seats, even in “First” Class, as the seats have little recline. We recommended that the clients instead try to get some rest in “Poor Man's Business Class” by booking one row of seats per passenger to stretch out on. As we noted in How to Buy a Second Airplane Seat on U.S. Airlines, Alaska refers to an extra seat as a Comfort Seat, and you must call Reservations to reserve; they cannot be booked online. When calling Alaska, we recommend requesting a Supervisor, because in our experience, regular call center staff may not be familiar with how to

Note that because these seats are only reserved with the passenger's last name, it's not possible to include an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan number when booking, even though purchased seats are eligible to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles. Instead, save your boarding passes for the extra seats and request your missing Alaska miles after the flight.


Making Your Row of Seats More Comfortable

If you're going to reserve an entire row, you may as well make it as comfortable as possible. We recommend bringing a small travel pillow as well as a Thermarest mattress pad (the kind used for camping, that roll up into a small stuff sack) with you. While these fit better on a business class flat bed seat, the shorter ones can also help make an economy row more comfortable. Just keep it from extending into the aisle, so you don't hamper passengers passing by.


The Upshot

Almost no one likes a red eye flight when there's no possibility of a flat bed seat, but booking extra seats so as to have a row to oneself can help make it more comfortable. And with many flights flying fuller, we don't recommend leaving it to chance as to whether there will be empty seats next to yours–reserve the extra seats at time of booking to ensure availability.

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