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late night flights

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recently i made an overnight trip via airplane. i highly advise anyone here that's considering such a journey to make sure it happens in the daylight.

normally airplanes do not bother me. i've never gotten airsickness or motion sickness in my life, and i've been on some loooooong road trips. but that last flight was the single worst experience i've ever had in a vehicle of any kind.

one of the things that sets off my migraines are strobe-like lights in total darkness. the airline had televisions mounted in the center aisle ceilings, playing various clips from television shows to entertain the passengers. (this was laaaate in the night, around four or five AM, so there were very few people watching.) the shows chosen were peppy upbeat things that cut from shot to shot every few seconds, making the entire interior of the plane flicker with flashes of light.

i tried to look outside to escape it, but the airplane had a flashing yellow light right under my window aimed at the wing, and while it was a different flashing light, it was still bright and bad.

so i put on an eye mask. but my head was already starting to throb, and the heat from the mask was intensifying it, as well as the pressure from the strap securing it to my head. (it was as loose as i could make it without allowing it to fall down over my face.)

and by the time i was done fighting the eye mask, the headache had gotten really bad, and i wanted nothing more than to lay down. but the airplane was tiny, and the best i could do was kind of a half-slouch. and when i closed my eyes, i was so dizzy that it felt like the plane was diving straight down to the ground.

three hours later, we finally landed. i had a plastic cup full of ice on my head, tears streaming down my face, hand clamped over my mouth trying so hard not to throw up (i had two sleeping men between me and the bathrooms, so throwing up was definitely not an option) and all i wanted to do was fall to the ground and let everyone trample me to death as they filed out of the plane.

never fly late at night. or if you must, do whatever it takes to prepare yourself for headache hell. i'd really hate for anyone to have to go through what i did.

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Yes, the strobes can be annoying, distracting and dangerous, even for us pilots.

They can also cause what is called "flicker vertigo" which is a loss of ability to tell up from down. The pilots have to rely totally on the instruments and they turn the strobe lights off.

I've experience both nausea and vertigo from this while flying.

I would also recommend that next time you have to travel at night that you close your window shade for the trip.

good luck,


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