Flight plan

My flight plan....

This blog is to inspire and motivate those pining for the skies. I will also virtually open the flight deck door and allow a peek behind the scenes.

If for any reason you have an issue found within, send an email and I will ratify it!

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Flying the "red eye"

I took this picture while flying from CYYC (Calgary) to EDDF (Frankfurt -FRA) on the Airbus 330 (big bus) six years ago.. This is the terminator- where night meets day. It's also called the "grey line" or the "twilight zone." Note the moon in the top right corner. This picture is found in my book.

Here's Wikipedia's definition: A red-eye flight is any flight departing late at night. The term red-eye derives from the fatigue symptom of having "red eyes" which can be caused by overnight travel. A red-eye flight typically moves from west to east during the overnight hours. It departs late at night, lasts only about three to five hours, an insufficient period to get fully rested in flight, and due to rapid forward time zone changes the aircraft lands around dawn. As a result, many travelers are unable to get sufficiently rested before a new day of activity. From a marketing standpoint, the flights allow business travelers an opportunity to migrate eastward without having an impact on a full business day.

Most eastward transatlantic crossings from North America to Europe are operated overnight, but are generally not viewed as red-eye flights since they depart early in the evening and last at least seven hours. A full night's rest is theoretically possible.

I'll be departing in a few hours for a flight to Calgary. We have a 90 minute pit stop and then it's back to Toronto on the "red eye" landing at 6:07 a.m. (Unfortunately, all the coffee shops close by then so I have to rely on the on-board 'gut rot'). Toronto Pearson has a curfew from 12:30 to 6:30 a.m so this flight, and a few others, are exempt. Air Canada flies daily red eyes from LAX, SFO, YYC, YVR and YEG (Edmonton).

The chatter on the radios this time of night is minimal and now and again you will here a pilot querying ATC whether they are still there. (Especially after the recent Minneapolis incident). As well, you know you are up late when you hear the nocturnal cargo crowd checking in on the airwaves.

I'll be home by 7:00 a.m and I doubt I'll be playing Air Canada pilot hockey at 10:00 a.m. I'll have to rest up for a flight to YEG in the evening. The good thing about "red eyes" is we are paid about 10 percent more for night flights. Night as far as pay goes, starts from 6:00 p.m local and ends 6:00 a.m departure airport time. At Air Canada most if us are paid by formula pay, and this is one part of the equation.
Gone flying
Captain Doug


Chris N said...

Hey Doug,
Just wanted to thank you for coming in and teaching the icing class at Brampton the other day. Its good to get an airline pilot's perspective on it.
One question for ya, do you prefer the night flights/red eyes flights over the morning or afternoon flights and why or why not?

P.s. Hope the weather out in Calgary was better then here!

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Chris. It was a pleasure teaching you guys. Too bad the class wasn't a little bigger.

I prefer not to be flying the "red eyes" because they knock you out for a couple of days. Having said that, some pilots fly them regularly.
I forgot to bid "avoid night flights" so the computer threw a few in. The Caribbean flights are nice because you are not crossing time zones.
I still like - one leg out and one leg back. For that reason, I miss the overseas.

Just checked the Calgary weather and it looks good. Looks like the cold front swept through Toronto as forecasted. And as promised cold temperatures, gusty winds and higher pressure ensued. Of course, also came the localized snow showers formed from moisture being scooped up from Lake Huron. The trials and tribulations of flying VFR.

Thanks for the post and spread the word about my blog at the Brampton Flight Centre.

Captain Doug

Anonymous said...


Have a safe flight tonight, at least there isn't any FZFG in the forecast that had been plaguing us several days days last week and causing a few diversions and cancellations.


whywhyzed said...

I tell ya... if I had a nickel for every redeye I've ever taken from SFO or LAX, I'd be retired by now. ;-) If I'm tired enough from meetings and jet lag, I've been known to sleep right thru the takeoff, but then the "sleep" you get during the flight is really restless and when you land you're just a zombie. Then I go to work :-( Don't even ask about the middle seat thing.......

Question from the previous blog -- what's a "flat bid"?

2whls3spds said...

We have several FA's (flight attendants) in the family. One actually prefers the red eyes due to that fact they are easy to work, minimal customer interaction, and decent pay. My bride does not, they wipe her out for at least a full day after flying one.


From the Flight Deck said...

Aaron. I agree. Many can handle a regular dose of "red eyes" while others loathe them.

I tend to side with your wife - they tend to knock me out for the day.

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Whywhyzed. That's what my passengers (and me) looked like this morning, "zombies." :)

A flat bid refers to our equipment bid (promotions). By contract we must have an equipment bid twice a year. But flying is down hence no growth or promotions. Growth is "flat" as a pancake or things have "flatlined" on a EKG i.e dead.

It might be an overstatement on my part, but things are status quo.

Capt. Doug

From the Flight Deck said...


Yes, thankfully the weather in YYC last night was not an issue. We did get a light spray at the gate to rid of frost on the spoilers.