Can You Use Bluetooth Headphones on an Airplane?

Alex | Last Updated On December 30th, 2021 | This post may contain affiliate links.

Travelling can be stressful, especially by air. During air travel, you have to sit still for a very long time. Therefore, one of the few comforts available to you is the ability to listen to music or watch movies.

Headphones can be a great asset whenever you are boarding a flight. It keeps you engaged with a movie or podcast while you’re traveling long hours on a flight.

So this raises the question: Can you use headphones, or more specifically, Bluetooth headphones (see also the best bluetooth headphones under 100 here), on a plane?

The short answer is: Yes, you can wear Bluetooth headphones, and they will work without any issue. However, certain airlines do not allow you to use your Bluetooth headphones all the time, and there are specific issues that you should consider when boarding a plane with a pair of Bluetooth headphones, such as:

  • Can you use any wireless device inside airplanes?
  • Headphones VS Earbuds, what’s is better for air travel?
  • Which airlines allow Bluetooth headphones?
  • Will Bluetooth headphones work with my smartphone during airplane mode?
  • Can I charge my Bluetooth headphones during the flight?
  • Can I use Bluetooth headphones with the inflight entertainment system?

So, with that said, let’s get into it.

Table of Contents
+

Can you use any wireless device inside airplanes?

Youn boy sitting in airplane sit watching digital tablet and wearing headphones

A good set of Bluetooth headphones (including earbuds) with a battery life greater than 2 hours will be able to provide you with high-quality audio until the end of your journey.

Bluetooth headphones are easy to use, and you don’t have to bother around with a mess of wires. They connect within seconds, and you can move around without having to carry your phone with you everywhere you go.

You might also have several other wireless devices on board, such as wireless keyboards, smartwatches and laptops. Having to switch off all of these devices is not very practical, but do you actually have to switch them off whenever boarding a plane?

Luckily for us, it is not required to do so anymore. Bluetooth headphones and similar devices that use Bluetooth for connectivity are considered “Short-Range” devices. These short-range devices are found to have no major effect on the aircraft, and for the most part, short-range Bluetooth devices are allowed to be used inside an airplane.

However, some airlines take safety precautions very seriously, and because of this, they will not allow you to use these devices during take-off and landing.

So, in this case, I recommend that you do your homework by packing an extra pair of wired earbuds or purchasing a headphone that can use an AUX cord.

Click here for some of the best wireless headphones with “wired” options.

Unfortunately, in the case of TWS earbuds, such as Raycons or Airpods, I recommend that you keep them off until the flight attendant gives you the “all clear.”

Headphones vs Earbuds, what’s best for air travel?

Many people have been pondering the differences between earbuds and headphones for a long time. At the end of the day, it all boils down to what sort of an experience you are looking for with your audio devices.

There are various situations where headphones are more versatile. For example: if your work involves activities such as audio mixing/recording or hardcore gaming, headphones and headsets are the better options. They provide better sound quality and noise cancellation while being comfortable during longer sessions.

However, on the flip side, when your activities involve working out and commuting, earbuds are the better option because of their compact/lightweight design.

Unfortunately, all these activities are different from air travel. When it comes to traveling by air, most trips take more than a couple of hours, and 90% of the time, you are on your seat with the noise of screaming babies and the neverending “hum” of the airplane engine scrawling inside your head.

Therefore, in this situation, the best device is a pair of high-quality noise-canceling headphones such as the Sony WH-1000XM3 or Bose QuietComfort 35 II.

Which airlines allow Bluetooth headphones?

Investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones is something of a necessity, especially if you travel frequently and listen to music/watch movies while you are doing so.

But before you go off buying a new pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones, it’s best to know which airlines will allow you to use Bluetooth headphones inside their airplanes.

So in this section, we are going to talk about several airlines and their rules regarding Bluetooth headphones.

British Airways: They allow the use of Bluetooth headphones, but not during take-off and landing. Also, Bluetooth headphones are not compatible with their in-flight entertainment systems.

Emirates: Fortunately, the entertainment system in Emirates airplanes supports Bluetooth headphones. Therefore, you can easily pair up your headphones and watch movies on them. However, you will have to switch them off during take-off and landing.

Lufthansa: Bluetooth headphones are allowed during every part of the flight. However, not all of their airplanes will have compatible in-flight entertainment systems. It’s best if you inquire about these before boarding each flight.

Ryanair: They do allow Bluetooth headphones, but they don’t have any inflight entertainment systems. They are an inexpensive airline, so don’t expect too much from them.

American Airlines: American Airlines will allow you to use your Bluetooth headphones, but only when it is airborne. They don’t have an entertainment system, but you can use their App. The American Airlines app allows you access to their free library of music, movies, and TV shows, but make sure to download the App and set it up before your flight.

Delta Airlines: Bluetooth headphones are allowed, but only when the flight is airborne. Unfortunately, they are still in the process of updating the in-flight entertainment system, and because of this, you might have to use wired headphones.

Southwest Airlines: You can use your Bluetooth headsets only during take-off and landing. However, if you want to use the internet, you will have to pay $8 on flights that include Wi-Fi.

JetBlue: JetBlue airlines allow the use of Bluetooth headsets during the whole flight, including take-off and landing. Unfortunately, their in-flight entertainment system does not support Bluetooth.

Alaska Airlines: The same situation as with JetBlue. They are pretty lenient when it comes to Bluetooth devices, but their in-flight entertainment systems do not support these wireless Bluetooth headsets.

Spirit Airlines: Allows Bluetooth headphones during every part of the flight, but they don’t have any in-flight entertainment systems. So it’s best to be prepared before booking a flight with Spirit Airlines.

Will bluetooth headphones work with my smartphone during airplane mode?

In theory, the airplane mode should restrict any networks that transmit data wirelessly, whether it’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or NFC.

Whenever you enable “Airplane Mode,” the Bluetooth network is switched off by default, and because of this, many users assume that you cannot use Bluetooth when airplane mode is set up.

Luckily, you can enable Bluetooth while in airplane mode, as all you have to do is enable Bluetooth after you’ve enabled airplane mode.

You can easily do this via the settings that you always use. However, make sure you follow the correct sequence of switching off airplane mode first.

Can I charge my Bluetooth headphones during the flight?

Charging Bluetooth Headphones

Depending on the airline and the flight, you will be able to access a couple of USB ports to charge your devices. Unfortunately, most older flights will not have any USB ports.

If you bring a laptop or, power bank, you could charge your headphones via these devices. Unfortunately, at a much slower rate, as you are well aware.

A few airlines and the power ports they offer are shown below.

American Airlines: Most planes will offer power outlets, but they could be DC outlets. So, in that case, you might need an adapter. American Airlines allows power outlets in every seat but only for Business and First classes. They will also offer power outlets in the main cabin, but only on select rows. I recommend that you check with them beforehand.

Delta Airlines: Delta provides power outlets on several First-class 737 and 757 planes. They also provide power outlets on all domestic 767-300 airplanes. USB ports are found in every seat on all 737-700, 737-800, 757-200, 767-300, 767-400ER, and 777-200ER planes. So, for the most part, you are going to be okay.

JetBlue: JetBlue provides power outlets on each seat of the Airbus A321, and they are internationally compatible. Hence you won’t need to use an adapter. They also provide a separate USB port with each of these power ports. On top of that, the JetBlue “Mint Experience” cabin provides passengers with access to two power ports in each seat. Perfect for your dual laptop setup.

These are just a few airlines and, from these, we can see that our options are running thin. So I would recommend that you check beforehand, pack a power bank or charge up your devices. If you’ve got a good pair of headphones, you won’t have to worry about battery life as these have more than 12 hours of continuous listening time, another reason to side with headphones.

By the way, click here for a list of the top 7 headphones that are great for watching movies.

Can I use Bluetooth headphones with the inflight entertainment system?

The in-flight entertainment system is amazing for watching movies and TV shows. You can even find some newer entries that have not made it to Netflix.

However, the issue is that most in-flight entertainment systems use the AUX cord for audio, and they don’t use Bluetooth. So you will have to use your wired headphones or the ones provided by the airline.

However, if you travel very frequently and run into these issues, I recommend purchasing an airplane Bluetooth adapter. These are very portable, and you can use them just like a TWS case. They provide up to 6 hours of continuous battery time, and the case allows for four more full-charge cycles. (summing up the total battery time to 30 hours)

Just plug them into the AUX cord and connect to this device via your headphones. Easy Peasy.

Unfortunately, these are not very affordable, and you can even buy a decent set of low-end TWS earbuds at the price of this adapter. But it’s nice to know about our options.

As we mentioned previously, when we compared different airlines, several airline companies let you watch movies via their App. So if you manage to use one of these airlines regularly, you’re in luck! You don’t have to buy a fancy adapter or sit there with “wired” headphones rotting your ears.

After considering all the above information, we’ve gathered that many first-timers might be worried about using their Bluetooth headphones while going on a flight. Well, fear not! Because, we’ve found out that most airlines do allow you to wear your Bluetooth headphones during the entire flight, with the exception being during landing and take-off. 

Conclusion

Using headphones to listen to music or watch a movie is a godsend when you have to sit through 6 hours on a flight. However, many passengers are worried about whether the airlines will allow them to use their Bluetooth headphones instead of their “wired” options. The answer to that question is: yes, they will allow passengers to use Bluetooth headphones, for the most part.

The real questions they need to ask themselves are: what sort of headphones to take with them, and will the inflight entertainment system be able to keep them entertained.