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With all the new technological advances happening nowadays and rules changing for flying all the time, it can get a bit confusing what you can and can’t use on a plane. I’ve flown more than the average person in my lifetime, and I even find myself questioning every so often what is allowed on a plane, especially regarding wireless connections. So can you use AirPods on a plane?
Bottom Line Up Front
Yes, you can use AirPods on a plane because small Bluetooth devices, such as AirPods, cause minimal interference to the aircraft. Each airline has its own set of rules for use, like some airlines don’t let you use Airpods during take-off and landing. If you aren’t sure when you can use your AirPods during your flight, a flight attendant will be able to let you know.
What are AirPods?
AirPods are wireless earbuds that use Bluetooth to connect to a device you want to listen from. Apple released Airpods in 2016, the first Bluetooth earbuds to have no wires. They come with a hard case that is also the charging port for your AirPods and has nearly 24 hours hour of battery in it. There are two different versions of AirPods that are listed below.
These are the original AirPods and are unique in that the inner earpiece is a hard plastic rather than a silicone earpiece. They more or less sit in your ear instead of being jammed in there, which some people find much more comfortable. If you are looking for a more affordable version of Airpods that still has incredible sound quality, these are the AirPods for you.
Apple AirPods Pro
The main advantage of having AirPods Pro over the original version is their noise-canceling abilities. With these noise-canceling earbuds comes spacial audio where the sound moves around you and conversation boost, which helps you hear people talking to you better. They are also slightly different with water resistance, customizable silicone earpieces, and a pressure valve, so your ears don’t build up pressure with the earbuds.
Can You Use AirPods on a Plane?
AirPods are short-range Bluetooth devices that are allowed for use on a plane. Bluetooth devices cause little to no interference with the plane’s communication system as some other wireless connections do. You can use your Airpods with almost any device and on any airline.
What Devices Can You Use with Airpods
There are a few different devices that you are allowed to use with your Apple AirPods, and these include:
- Cell phones
Whenever I fly, I mostly use my earbuds for listening to music or watching movies. Therefore I mostly use my cell phone over anything else, but I like to get out my laptop for long flights where I may decide to watch multiple movies. AirPods also work best with other Apple products, such as Mac or iPhones, because they are easier to connect, and you can use Siri through your AirPods.
The Rules of Use
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) decided that it was safe to use most Bluetooth devices during your flight, including take-off and landing, back in 2013, such as your AirPods. Any device you are using your AirPods with must not have a cellular connection or must have the cellular connection turned off with airplane mode. Even with your device in airplane mode, you can still use Bluetooth capabilities.
However, it is up to individual airlines on what rules they want to set for using Bluetooth devices during the flight. Some airlines do not allow you to use your AirPods during take-off and landing because they want you to be able to hear any important announcements. I’ve listed below some of the most popular airlines that do not allow AirPod usage during take-off and landing:
- American Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- British Airways
- Easy Jet
- Allegiant Air
- Emirates Airlines
- Qantas Airlines
Some airlines allow you to use AirPods during your entire flight once they have reached 10,000 feet or once they have finished the safety briefing done before take-off. Some of these airlines are as follows:
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Air Canada
- West Jet
A few airlines even let you use your AirPods from the time you enter the plane to the time you exit the plane. I do recommend pausing what you are listening to or watching during safety briefings or if you may hear anything come over the intercom throughout the flight. Some popular airlines that allow usage during the entire flight are:
- Air France
- United Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Jet Blue
- Spirit Airlines
When You Can Not Use Airpods
The only thing you will not be able to use AirPods for in a plane is the seatback screens available in some aircraft. These entertainment systems include movies, music, games, and so much more, completely free of charge. Most seatback screens have an auxiliary plug for you to plug in wired earbuds, and very rarely will you be able to find an airline with a seatback screen that has Bluetooth capabilities.
Although, you could try to use a couple of workarounds for your airline’s free entertainment. One way is to use it through the airline’s app, which usually has the same entertainment selection found on the seatback screens. The downside to this option is you may have to purchase your airline’s in-flight wifi, and it is not free, costing anywhere from $7 to $10.
The second trick that you could try to use the seatback screens with your AirPods is using a Bluetooth auxiliary adapter. This is a device that you plug into the auxiliary plug on the seatback screen, and it Bluetooths the audio to your AirPods. Some great adapters that you can try are Comsoon 5.0 Reciever, Anker Soundsync, and Kromen adapter.
How to Use Airpods on a Plane
Using AirPods with any Apple device is some of the easiest Bluetooth earbuds to use on a plane. This is mainly because Apple devices don’t automatically turn off Bluetooth when put into airplane mode like every other device. Once you connect your AirPods and turn on airplane mode, all there is left to do is pop your earbuds in and listen away.
Connect Your Airpods to the Device
The process is extremely simple if you have an iPhone that you are setting up your AirPods with for the first time. Open your AirPods charging case lid with the AirPods inside and set it next to your phone. The iPhone will automatically pop up a screen to connect the Airpods. You must do a bit more for all other devices to connect your Airpods.
- Open your Bluetooth settings. On a Mac, this is as simple as tapping the Bluetooth Icon in the upper right corner of your screen and tapping Bluetooth preferences. For other devices, go to your usual Bluetooth settings. Make sure your Bluetooth is on.
- Open the lid of the charging case. Ensure that your AirPods are inside the case and that your Bluetooth settings page is still on your device.
- Hold down the setup button. There is a small button on the back of your AirPods case that you need to press and hold down for a couple of seconds. Keep holding the button until the status light flashes white.
- Select AirPods on your device. Your AirPods should show up in the Bluetooth settings list. Click connect, and you are ready to listen to anything on your device.
Put Your Device Into Airplane Mode
On any device, you should be able to turn on airplane mode quickly by sliding down from the top of the screen and hitting the airplane icon. If that is not an option on your device, you must go to its settings and find airplane mode, usually in a network or connection folder. Below is how to put any apple device into airplane mode.
- Open the control center. You can do this on your iPhone or iPad by sliding down from the small horizontal line in the top right corner of your device’s screen. Multiple boxes should pop up with different icons in them. To exit this screen, slide up from the bottom of your screen.
- Click on the airplane icon. With the control center open, find the bubble icon with the picture of a plane on it. Once you have tapped on this icon, it will turn orange, meaning airplane mode has been turned on.
- If you are using an Apple Watch, turn on the mirror iPhone. This will make it so every time you turn your phone on airplane mode from here on out, your watch will automatically go into airplane mode as well. You can do this by going to the Apple Watch app on your phone and clicking general > airplane mode >mirror iPhone.
Best Alternatives to Airpods
- Adjustable active noise canceling
- Wireless charging
- Auto play/pause
- Bulky case and earbuds
Bose Quiet Comfort earbuds have some of the best active noise cancelations on the market. Whenever I see noise-canceling earbuds, I’m usually pretty skeptical because a tiny earbud can only do so much. Still, these are shockingly good, especially for the background engine whirring in an airplane. They also can let some ambient noise in and makes peoples’ voices sound pretty good through everything.
These earbuds are highly versatile and helpful in the office, gym, or when you want to completely zone out into your music. They are water-resistant, able to withstand any sweat or water that may come into contact with them, and can be as transparent with ambient sound as you want or completely cut it out. They also have an auto-play or pause feature that works when you take the earbud out of your ear so you can give full attention to whoever you’re talking to without missing anything you were listening to.
The one thing I hate about the Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds is that they are much bulkier than the AirPods. The earbuds themselves are flat, making them comfortable, but they are wide, protruding quite a bit outside the ear. The case is also much larger than the AirPods case, probably a third more significant.
- Outstanding battery life
- Active noise canceling
- Auto play/pause
- Tiny case
- Bulky earbuds
- Relatively expensive
The one thing that really stands out from the AirPods with Sony’s earbuds is their battery life. You can get a remarkable eight hours of listening time with noise canceling on, whereas AirPods only get five or six hours of listening time. The case of these Sony earbuds gives an additional sixteen hours of battery life on top of that.
Nearly everything else with these is about on par with the Apple AirPods, except the case is slightly smaller. The active noise canceling is great, and you have the option to adjust it so you can hear ambient sound. One thing I like about these earbuds is they can tell when you’re talking to someone with bone conduction and will automatically pause, adjust ambient noise, and play again without you having to take them out of your ears.
Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds are relatively bulky compared to the AirPods, filling up the entire canal of your ear. They are also a bit more expensive, costing around $40 to $50 more than the AirPods. The price of these earbuds does tend to fluctuate quite a bit, so I recommend keeping an eye on the market over time if you do plan on purchasing these.
- Works with Alexa
- Adjustable noise cancelation
- Light and small
- The active noise cancelation isn’t the best
- No wireless charging
If you are looking for a pair of noise-canceling earbuds that won’t break the bank, look no further! Amazon has released a set of earbuds that nearly matches all of Apple’s Airpods features for roughly half the price. For the low price of $119.99, you get active noise cancelation, ambient noise enhancement, and a highly customizable fit.
Like you can use Siri with your Apple Airpods, you can use Alexa with your Amazon Echo buds. Instead of tapping the outside of the earbuds or using your app to make adjustments through your earbuds, you simply ask Alexa to do it for you, like turning on and off noise cancelation or answering basic questions. These earbuds are also very comfortable compared to others, being very light and smaller in size.
The sound these earbuds create is about equal to the AirPods, but the noise cancelation is slightly lacking. This could be because they are not using the most up-to-date active noise cancelation technology, but it is good enough for the price. You will also not get the wireless charging feature in Amazon Echo buds and slightly less battery longevity.
Answer: Apple AirPods Pro is far better than the original Apple AirPods because they have active noise-cancellation, a more customizable fit, water resistance, and spacial sound. However, they come with a heftier price costing you about $100 more than the original AirPods.
Answer: Yes! You can connect them to your android device the same way you would link it to any other Bluetooth device. Once you’re in the Bluetooth settings of your Android device, flip open the lid of your AirPods case and hold down the button on the back of the case to make it discoverable. Click connect on your Andriod device.
Answer: AirPods will still function as expected without wifi, as long as you have something downloaded on your device to listen to or watch. If you would like to know more about how to listen to music without wifi, read my other article, “How to Listen to Music on a Plane.” The only thing you can not do without wifi is use Siri through your AirPods.
Answer: You don’t technically need your phone to listen to music through your AirPods, but they need to be connected to another device with music on it. This could be your Apple Watch if you have an internet connection or your Macbook if you have downloaded music or a music streaming service. AirPods do not store their own music.
Answer: You can control your AirPods by double-tapping the outside of your earbuds, allowing you to pause or play what you’re listening to and answer or end calls. You can also use Siri to control your AirPods, but you do need a wifi connection for that to work, so you can’t use it on a plane.
AirPods are extremely easy to use on a plane, especially if you are using them with other Apple devices. I recommend using the AirPods Pro on a plane because they have noise cancellation. I love using earbuds with good active noise cancelation on a plane because it eliminates that horrible humming noise that the plane makes throughout the journey. I’ll even sleep with my noise-canceling earbuds playing tranquil music, and it’s a much better rest than without them.
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