There are many different flights that operate each and every day and there are multiple flight types – whether that’s a flight arriving the next day or even earlier than you depart, flight schedules are complex and are based on a number of different factors like past performance, time zones changes, flying times, and much more.
Airlines constantly adjust their schedules and a flight time is never guaranteed as changes do occur frequently. There are various flight types that are important to understand as you expand your travels as these can help you plan your journey better. Just know that not every city pair will have your preferred flight type and time, the larger the city/airport, the more flights there generally are, and passengers have a larger selection.
The most common flights that exist are those during the day – you depart the same day you arrive, and you usually arrive a few hours later, depending on your flight time. If your flight crosses multiple time zones then you’re either going to gain some time or you’ll land much later – depending on which direction you’re traveling, how long your flight time is, and what the change in time zones is.
A red-eye or overnight flight is a flight that departs in the evening and arrives in the morning on the following day. For example, you depart at 9PM and you land 9AM the following day. These are the most common flights to Europe from the US because of the time difference.
People either love or hate these overnight flights. On one hand, it allows them to have the full day to work or sightsee and then fly through the night, save on a hotel, and arrive the next morning at the destination. On the other hand, most people fly in Economy and not having proper sleep can be tough on the body – and you might feel like a zombie the next day.
Same Day, Earlier Arrival
Depending on which direction you’re flying and if you’re flying over the international date line, you might actually arrive earlier than you departed – on the same day. For example, if you’re flying from Asia to the US, you might depart at 5PM and land at 9AM – on the same day. This is due to you crossing the international date line and multiple time zones.
Some flights are so long, cross so many time zones, and even the international date line that you’ll end up skipping a day. This is common for flights from North America to the South Pacific. For example, if you fly from the US to Australia, you’ll most likely depart at 10PM and land 7AM, but +2 days, so you’ll be skipping a whole day. The plus side is that you gain some of that day back when you fly this route reverse.
Ultra Long-Haul Flights
Ultra long-haul flights like, for example, Singapore to New York, will generally leave you feeling strange.. ultra long-hauls that are over 15 hours can really mess up your body’s clock – no matter what class you’re in.
While it can be convenient to be on the other side of the world by just taking one flight, it can be really tough to then adjust to the local time once you land. Consider breaking up your trip if possible and perhaps have a stopover somewhere along the way to help with the overall travel experience. Different people have different preferences, but ultra long-haul flights are a completely different experience.
Reverse Red-Eye Flights
There are a few flights that fly during the night from East to West and due to the time zone changes, could also be qualified as a red-eye flight, but rather in the reverse direction. Red-eyes from the US to Europe land the next day, multiple hours later – but a reverse red-eye from Europe to the US might depart at 11PM and land at 3AM the next day, due to the flight time and time zone changes.
These flights aren’t the best because you usually land at a really strange hour between 2-5AM and then it’s hard to decide what to do after that if you don’t have an early onward flight connection. So these flights aren’t ideal and there’s not many of them due to their strange timing.
All in All
There are a number of different flight types and while the most common is a simple day flight, the more traveling you do, the more types of flights you’ll experience. Most people have their preferred flying times based on their schedules, but sometimes not all routes have all schedules available and you might have to book something that you aren’t too happy about.
Airlines are constantly changing their flight schedules so even if you book your preferred flight time, just know that flight times aren’t guaranteed – so you never know if you’ll actually depart at the time you book. If your flight time is changed by at least two hours, you can generally get a full refund of your ticket.