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What exactly is a 'red-eye' flight?

Dear Anita,

I would like some clarification on what exactly constitutes a "red-eye" flight. I opted for a red-eye option at Hotwire, under the assumption that the flight will depart during or later in the night. But I was very surprised to find the flight time at 2:30 a.m. on the same date, which cut short my family visit by approximately 12 to 15 hours. Even the agent I spoke with agreed with my interpretation, but said that he could not do anything about it. Any suggestions?


Shiva K.
Winchester, VA

Dear Shiva,

This is a lesson to everyone using online booking to understand the rules before booking. Understanding the "interpretation" of the rules can save one a lot of disappointment. Hotwire's definition of a red-eye flight is as follows:

" …flights that depart between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. local time. Flights that arrive after 12:30 a.m. local time are also considered red-eyes (regardless of what time they depart). Red-eye flights generally fly during the night and arrive early the next morning. "

Hotwire's rules aren't hidden, and are clearly marked so users can readily find them.

Hotwire's definition is no different than the major airlines or their competitors (Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz). For domestic flight searches, Hotwire offers you the option of taking a red-eye, which offers greater savings. The key to getting these online travel deals is flexibility and understanding what exactly you are purchasing.

I hope I've been helpful. Happy travels!

Anita Dunham-Potter

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