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A red-eye flight is any flight departing late at night and arriving early the next morning. The American term red-eye derives from the fatigue symptom of having red eyes, which can be caused or aggravated by late-night travel.
The majority of transcontinental flights are operated during the day, but as of 2010 red-eye flights operate from Perth to Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra and Melbourne, and from Darwin to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Red-eye flights have previously operated from Australia to New Zealand and Fiji. Red-eye flights to Australia operate from various locations in South-East Asia.
TAM Airlines and Gol Transportes Aéreos offer red-eye flights, called Big Owl (Portuguese: Corujão) flights in Brazil, with over 50 different routes throughout Brazil, all departing between 10 pm and 6 am.
A few overnight flights from Europe to the Middle East and to Russia were being operated in 2009, all of which had a flight time of 3-6 hours and departed in mid-evening, arriving around dawn the next day. In 2012, multiple travel agencies offered budget night flights from the Canary Islands to the mainland of Europe, also generally having a 3-6 hour flight time.
Russian airlines operate similar to U.S. airlines by connecting Moscow to Yakutsk, Irkutsk and Vladivostok with overnight red-eye flights. Russian transcontinental flights only last 5-8 hours but due to the northerly latitude the flights can cross as many as 8 time zones during this interval, drastically shortening the overnight experience. The flights depart Moscow around 6 pm and arrive at the eastern cities around 6 am the next day. One of the current examples of red-eye flight is Aeroflot's SU783 from Moscow to Magadan, departing 23:05 Moscow time and arriving 15:00 Magadan time on next day (flight time is 8 hours).
Red-eye flights connect West Coast cities to Central and East Coast cities. These typically depart the west coast around 10 pm & midnight, have a flight time of 3–5 hours but lose 2-3 hours due to time difference, and arrive between 5 am & 7 am. Red-eye flights also connect Hawaii and Alaska with West Coast mainland cities. Furthermore, red-eyes also connect Honolulu with Tokyo, as the flights only depart at night, and arrive around 6 to 7 hours later.
In the 1930s and 1940s, red-eye flights were not possible, as most airports did not have the equipment necessary to work at night. There are still airports that do not function after certain hours, or have curfews for noise reasons, limiting the number of airports from which red-eye flights can depart.