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Red-Eye Flights Aren’t Your Only Option to Europe Anymore

Are you among the many travelers who believe that overnight red-eye flights in economy class constitute cruel and unusual punishment? On most routes to Europe, you’re largely out of luck in finding any other option—until now.

The norm for airlines based in North America heading to Europe is to depart in the late afternoon or evening on a red-eye flight, and arrive across the pond the next morning. This way, one plane can easily maintain a daily round-trip with enough time in Europe for routine maintenance and servicing.

Although feasible, only a very few eastbound nonstops operate by day. Among the legacy lines, the only daytime nonstops to Europe are to London: British Airways from Boston; American from Chicago; American, British Airways, Delta, United, and Virgin Atlantic from New York/Newark; Air Canada from Toronto; and United from Washington, D.C.

This year, however, Norwegian Air has apparently sensed an underserved market. The airline added its second daily nonstop to London/Gatwick as a daytime flight. The plane leaves London early enough in the morning to arrive in New York mid-morning, and will return to London before midnight. Moreover, Norwegian’s planned second daily round-trip between Dublin and New York’s Stewart International Airport will leave Dublin early in the morning and arrive back in Dublin late that evening.

So far, nobody flies daytime anywhere else to Europe, but Norwegian is an interesting speculation: With its build-up in Paris, it could easily test the demand for a daytime flight from there to Stewart or maybe Boston.

Domestically, the only routes where red-eyes are the sole option are eastbound red-eye flights from Anchorage to Denver, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis. But if you like JetBlue, your only choice from Portland, Sacramento, or Seattle to New York is a red-eye.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

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