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Question about the time of day you get into Europe from the US

Has anyone taken an early morning flight from the US and arrived in Europe late at night on the same day? I am thinking about a flight from Chicago at 8:30 am getting into London about 10:30 pm. I realize it would be around midnight before we got to our hotel but would this help with jet lag? Or would it not be any different then getting there in the afternoon and staying awake until a normal bedtime?

Posted by
5688 posts

Yes. I LOVE the daytime flight. There is no need to try to sleep in a cramped airplane seat. I arrive and head to the hotel, have a glass of wine, and am usually asleep by about 2am. I’m tired from getting up early in the morning to get to the airport. The next morning, I set my alarm for 9am so I sleep in a little late. I find I feel great on my first full day and have very little problem with jet lag.

I took a daytime flight out of Dulles just about every year and would purposely start my trip in London so I could take advantage of this flight. Unfortunately, United canceled the only daytime flight out of Dulles this year; I am very unhappy about this.

With one exception, I was always able to get the tube to my hotel. I typically stay along the Piccadilly line. Take a note of the last tube, Elizabeth line, and HEX departures on your day of travel so you know what your options are. One time, my flight was delayed 3 hours and the tube and HEX had stopped running so I had to take a taxi.

Posted by
8239 posts

The arrival time is more important to us than departure time. We like to get into Europe around noon. (Many flights get you in there early a.m. and getting into a hotel that early is just about impossible.)

We never take flights arriving late at night.

On return flights, many cities have 6:00 a.m. flights that we avoid. Those flights just take travelers to big city airports where they end up sitting around until mid day or shortly there after to leave for North America. We try to stick to 8l30-9:00 a.m. flights out of the smaller cities into connecting airports.

Posted by
4012 posts

It’s a GREAT IDEA & one we’ll be doing in September when we take an AM flight from JFK to CDG.

We hate the overnight flights as neither of us can ever fall asleep on a plane even when we are sitting up in first class.

Posted by
1808 posts

Day flights just push jet lag/sleep deprivation off a day. You can't fool your body in one day. If you get a lot of sleep the night before your flight, your body will just assume it is another Chicago day on the day you fly.

At midnight London time, your body will think it is 6:00pm Chicago time. At 2:00am London time your body will think it is 8:00pm. Question is for you, how many hours sleep do you need not to drag the next day and what is the earliest time can you fall asleep for the night? The clock won't fool your body rhythms in one day.

You can always prepare in advance by getting up really early in the morning Chicago time and going to bed real early as well. About a week of this in advance. Otherwise, just accept you will be dragging the day after you arrive if you try to get on London time right away.

Posted by
4474 posts

We love the day flights from Boston and NYC, but those do get in a few hours earlier. I can't sleep on the overnight flight so don't miss a night's sleep when I take the day flight and get to London close to bedtime.

Posted by
960 posts

I am a fan of the route you are considering. I stay at an airport hotel on arrival, have a relaxed early AM, then make my way to central London. I’m much happier with that timing than other departures the get into LHR at 7 AM or so.

Everyone is different. What works for me may not work for others.

Posted by
11368 posts

We have done day flights from NY and Boston to London several times. It was basically always 7am -7 pm so never arrived late at night. Would arrive and have a nice dinner at the SofitelLHR. Then go to bed and wake up in the morning without jet lag.

Posted by
8875 posts

The flight time from Chicago to London is only 7.5 hours.

So I’m completely confused by referencing a 10:30pm arrival if you leave O’Hare at 8:30am

Aren’t you taking a direct flight?

Posted by
11505 posts

Claudia -- add in the time difference ( 6hrs) and it works out

chicago (o'hare) to london (heathrow) on AA

7 hours 40 minutes
Dep- 08:30 ORD ( 1430 London)
Arr- 22:10 LHR

Posted by
2112 posts

I’ll be leaving LAX at 5:30 PM and arriving in Gdańsk at 4:30 PM. I hope to stay up until 8 or 9 PM that night. I avoid arriving in Europe before 2PM, as I never sleep on a plane. Jet lag and I do not get along very well. My first trip to Europe arrived at 7:30 AM. It was a miserable first day.

Posted by
15694 posts

I fly to Europe 3-4 times a year. I only take the morning flight from JFK to LHR.

And I do exactly the same as ORDTraveler when I arrive.

Posted by
2899 posts

One advantage we find when arriving at our European destination late in the evening is that when we do finally retire for the night we're doing so in a real bed versus the ordeal we experience by trying to sleep on an overnight flight. Even though our body clock is insisting that it's only mid-afternoon, we're usually tired enough from the long travel day (and in our case a poor night's sleep the night before) that it doesn't matter - we're comprehensively bushed enough upon arrival that getting to sleep typically isn't an issue.

Posted by
1101 posts

Yes! We did it JFK to LON in 2023 and just did it JFK to CDG a couple weeks ago! Love, love, love the day flight - cuts jet lag in half. No pressure to sleep on the plane.

Posted by
129 posts

I'm not sure what the best time to arrive is, but the worst time for me, is early morning. Arriving before a hotel room is ready, and having to tuff it out most of the day, is difficult. I fly from the west coast so it's generally a 9 hour time difference.

Posted by
2243 posts

I am by far the minority here, but I actually like arriving early in the morning. We just drop our bags at the hotel, and venture off. Staying outside and waking around, then an early dinner. My husband crashes immediately after dinner, but I usually head back out for an hour or two. By the morning we are both adjusted.

Flying home, I really dislike the very early flights as that means the airport is packed. I prefer to have a flight that leaves after noon sometime.

We fly from Seattle, so our options are somewhat limited in terms of schedules.

Posted by
1808 posts

Even though our body clock is insisting that it's only mid-afternoon, we're usually tired enough from the long travel day (and in our case a poor night's sleep the night before) that it doesn't matter - we're comprehensively bushed enough upon arrival that getting to sleep typically isn't an issue.

Good point I did not think about. If you have an 8:00am flight, you are going to be getting up pretty early in the a.m. to get to O'hare to Board for an 8:00am flight. Lot's to do before leaving the house and a commute to O'Hare during rush hour. Just be careful not to nap on the flight over so you won't catch a second wind. Not matter how you slice it, I still say the following day will have some adverse affects, but not as severe as arriving at 8:00am. An 8:00am arrival day, unless you can get into a hotel ASAP to nap, is brutal. I wish there were more flights that arrived later in the day. Its just that some direct flights are limited as to when they arrive. Either way, a few stops at some pubs in London should take the sting out of the day. Cheers!

Posted by
4630 posts

I have taken the early arrivals twice, before 7 am, and really hated them. They maximize the torture. I would take a day flight if I could, well there is a connection to that O'Hare flight that leaves home at 6 am, so I could get a day flight that way, although wouldn't really sleep the night before in that case so not much saved.

When the option is a day flight or an overnight flight to a destination in the same time zone, say Peru or Chile, choosing the day flight is a no brainer.

Posted by
3260 posts

I have taken the day flight for years, Boston to London. I do as Suki does. I stay at T5, where I've arrived, at the Sofitel Hotel and order room service. I head into London or onto my next flight the following day. I have a good night's sleep in a wonderful bed. I avoid most of the pitfalls of jet lag. No fatigue at all. No pain. I do find on day 4 I have just slightly less vim and vigor, but not so you'd notice.

Last year I deviated from this system of many years and took and overnight to Madrid. I splurged on Business class flat beds. I found this useless and had horrible jet lag for at least 5 days. So, give me the wonderful day flight anytime!

The other benefit is that as I am not hoping to sleep, I just fly economy and read my book for the duration. It's a win, win.

Posted by
8875 posts

joe32F …..

I’m a math atheist ….

Hopefully the OP has enough responses to make a decision…so they can book their flights

Posted by
10401 posts

Unfortunately flying from the west coast gives us limited options.

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you all for the replies. We are going to buy the tickets for the 8:30 flight from Chicago. I will let you know how it works out sometime in the fall. Two years ago we took the Queen Mary 2 over and didn't have to worry about jet lag.