At a time when you are probably competing with the rest of the town, if not the country, to secure the best airfares to zip away to your chosen holiday destination, the timing of the flight is probably the least of your worries.
But if you were to show the ‘time slot’ column a little more love, you’d realize one very important thing.
Less convenient flight timings translate into savings, savings that are better spent on tiny indulgences for you or the kids during the holidays.
Less convenient typically means any flight that leaves after the world snoozes and before it drags itself out of bed.
We know just the picture that popped up in your mind and it’s loathsome.
A zombie-eyed you lugging overstuffed bags and half sleepy kids standing in queue to get through security.
But there are rarely serpentine queues at those hours.
Let us explain.
The science behind early morning travelling
Early morning flight-travel is a science. Not everybody gets accustomed to it. But the ones that do rarely book air tickets at normal timings again.
Family time: There’s nothing like a warm evening spent with the family even if it comes at the cost of a few hours of sleep. Travelling early morning gives you the opportunity to spend the night with your family rather than spending it travelling a day early.
Empty roads: How many times have you been able to reach the airport without grappling with traffic snarls? Try early mornings. You do not have to leave home a couple of hours earlier to mitigate bumper-to-bumper traffic and crowds.
Less crowded airports: Believe it or not, you are not the only one who cherishes the few extra winks. So, you’d rarely find company at the wee hours in the airport. Do not be surprised if you zip through security in minutes as compared to the long waiting times in the evenings that most people are accustomed to. It’s addictive.
Less travel time: According to the Air Travel Consumer Report (https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/resources/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/280966/2017mayatcr.pdf), flights operating early morning are most likely to arrive and depart on time as compared to flights late afternoons or evenings. If you hate sitting in an airplane strapped up awaiting anxious minutes for the flight to take off, you’d appreciate early mornings when you are least likely to be the 15th fight in queue on the runway.
Less expensive: Save yourself some Benjamin. Enough said.
Cheerful staff: There’s nothing like unharried, smiling faces at the airport. In the mornings, it is just the boost you need for a cheerful day ahead. And you are most likely to find the TSA staff beaming in the mornings for they are yet to deal with a gazillion annoying travellers and with a cascade of delays that pile up as the day progresses.
Greet the day at your destination: If you fly really early, you can reach your destination just in time for breakfast and have the entire day at your leisure. That, in our opinion, sounds much better than reaching the hotel late night and crashing into bed dog-tired.
Catch up on your lost sleep: One of the reasons why most people dread early morning flights is due to the lost sleep. But, once again, that’s not unsolvable. You can hit the sack early the previous day, grab at least six hours of sleep. With hardly any time lost on the roads en route or at the airport, you can check-in and grab the lost hours in the flight.
The rarest of luxuries: If you travel economy like half of the world does, there are chances that you may land yourself the rarest of rare luxuries, an empty seat next to you in an early morning flight.
All said and done, this article wouldn’t be complete without talking about some of the possible demerits of early morning travel.
Sleep: Sometimes, despite all the planning in the world, you might be able to catch only a couple of hours sleep at best before the alarm rudely wakes you up. That can leave you groggy for a good part of the next day due to the sleep inertia. That’s one of the reasons why a lot of families opt for late evening flights because it’s easier to manage the kids. If you are a business traveller looking to attend a meeting the same morning, you’d hate to find yourself dozing halfway through it.
Concessions might be closed: It’s difficult to find even a newspaper at some airports in the morning let alone breakfast. Most airport concessions might be unopened. You may either have to pack some breakfast from home or at least stock up on a granola bar or something that you can munch on. If you are one of those who cannot do without a morning cup of Joe, then ensure that you drink it before you leave home.
If you travelling from the west to the east, (LA to New York or LA to Toronto), you have the option to choose a red-eye flight. These flights depart late night and arrive early morning the next day. So, you will be spending the night in the airplane. It is aimed at the business traveller who would like to save some dough and reduce unproductive transit time spent travelling. You will also be saving on the money that you otherwise spend on hotel accommodation were you to arrive a day earlier.
However, if you dread sleeping in an airplane, then red-eye flights are a strict no-no for you. There is also the dreaded possibility that you may land yourself a middle seat fighting for that shared armrest while trying your best to catch some sleep.
So, which one of these do you prefer? Early mornings or red-eye flights? We would love to hear your take on it.