Most people think that living a bi-coastal lifestyle is glamorous. I have lived it most of my adult life and I know better. I just got off the red eye from LA and went directly to work.
Even on the easiest flights this can prove to be a night from hell. Think about it. It's a five-hour trip traveling west to east because of the tail winds. You barely fall asleep in your seat if you're lucky. After a few hours of napping, the flight attendants start to make their "We are about to start our descent" announcements. At best you are in a total fog as you stumble off the plane and search for your driver at the baggage claim. With any luck he sees you first and rushes you to the car. Hopefully you slowly come back to life on the drive home or to your hotel. Even if you make this trip year after year, it only becomes more difficult. Your body does not become used to it. You find that your energy level is low. Emotionally you are drained.
I am not having a pity party. I only want to share the tips I have learned over the years to make this flight more bearable.
Pick your favorite seat. This can make a huge difference in your comfort level, relaxing you and making sleep possible. Some people like to burrow in a window seat. I prefer the aisle because I'm a bit claustrophobic and an aisle seat also makes trips to the bathroom much easier.
Do not wear makeup on the red eye. Blurred makeup is a scary sight in the morning. I suggest wearing only a light moisturizer and if you must, a soft lipstick color. You can always go to the bathroom before you land and add a pinch more if you look frightfully pale.
Try dry shampoo. Airplane air is circulated and dirty. Almost everyone's hair looks greasy after a long flight. Dry shampoo will help to give the illusion of freshly shampooed and styled hair.
Go home or to your hotel and jump into bed. Do not even start to unpack or open your mail. This will wake you up. A few hours of sleep in a real bed works wonders to help you feel back to normal. Two to three hours works best. This will immediately reset your body clock in the new time zone.
Take a long, hot shower. This works like a miracle drug. If you have to go straight to work from the airport, stop at the VIP lounge. You can usually gain entry for a fee even if you are not a member. They all have shower facilities.
Don't forget about your teeth. There are many disposable pre-pasted toothbrushes available at every drugstore. Always keep a few with you. It avoids morning breath and helps you to feel awake.
Eye drops are a must. There is a reason why they call this overnight flight the red eye. Eye drops will almost instantly take away the redness and moisturize your eyes. You will look awake even if you're still half asleep.
None of the tips listed above will make the red eye an easy flight, but they will help to make it manageable. Hopefully you will be able to go about your day looking good and thinking clearly. By the way, if all else fails, you can always depend on a strong cup of coffee and a couple of aspirin to get you through the day.