Can You Use AirPods On A Plane?

Last Updated on November 5, 2021

When you switch on airplane mode on your iPhone your AirPods might disconnect.

So can you even use AirPods on a plane?

This post looks at bringing, wearing, and using your AirPods when flying.

How To Use AirPods On A Plane

The Federal Aviation Administration has decided to allow the use of Bluetooth devices on planes. So the short answer is, yes, you can use AirPods on a plane.

What you need to remember is that your iPhone’s cellular connection must be disabled when you are on a plane. That’s why you need to switch on airplane mode.

The first time you go to control center switch on airplane mode on an iPhone it turns off all radios except Bluetooth. So your AirPods should continue to work.

If you subsequently switch off Bluetooth while airplane mode is on your iPhone will remember this.

The next time you switch on airplane mode it turns off all radio communication types including Bluetooth. In this case, your AirPods would be disconnected when you enable airplane mode.

That might lead you to think that you can’t use AirPods on a plane because airplane mode is switching off Bluetooth.

The simple solution is to go to switch on airplane mode, and then, if you need to, go back to control center and re-enable Bluetooth. That way your AirPods will be able to connect to your phone and you can use them on the plane.

Consider AirPods Pro or Max For Noise Canceling

One of the problems with using regular AirPods on a plane is the noise levels in the cabin.

The roar of the engine and air resistance makes it pretty loud.

You end up needing to turn the volume on your AirPods right up just to be able to hear your podcasts, audiobooks, film, or music. AirPods are cool headphones but playing them at full volume for long periods of time isn’t good for your ears and they don’t sound great when on a plane.

On the other hand, AirPods Pro have active noise cancellation which makes them much more comfortable to use on planes.

Khristine thinks they are “absolutely necessary” on the plane.

Also check out Apple AirPods Max. They’re over ear noise canceling headphones that would also provide much better sound quality while on the plane. They also have a much better battery life if you are taking a long flight.

Personally I always fly with my Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They are significantly cheaper than the AirPods Max.

Regular AirPods are great for walking around the city but when you are sitting down somewhere over ear headphones provide much better sound quality, especially if you are are sitting on a plane!

Connecting AirPods To The In-Flight Entertainment System

Some airlines have upgraded their in-flight entertainment systems so that Bluetooth devices can connect.

But most haven’t.

Check this link to find out which airlines allow Bluetooth and when can watch the in-flight movies using your AirPods.

Most airlines haven’t upgraded their in-flight entertainment systems to work with wireless headphones.

One solution is the AirFly.

It has a jack that you can plug into the 3.5 mm headphone jack that you normally find in the armrest. You can then connect your AirPods to the AirFly to get the audio for the in-flight movie.

The cool thing is that two sets of Bluetooth headphones can connect to the AirFly. So you and a partner can both use your AirPods to listen to the same audio.

Where To Pack AirPods

If you are more concerned about how to pack your AirPods rather than using them I can offer the following advice.

You can pack AirPods in either carry-on or checked luggage. Even though the charging case has a lithium battery it’s permitted in checked luggage because it’s installed in the case.

But never risk packing AirPods in checked luggage. Unfortunately, items do go missing from hold baggage and AirPods would be a perfect pocket-sized thing to steal.

If you just want to bring your AirPods but don’t intend to use them during your flight then I recommend you pack them securely in your carry-on bag.

That way you won’t leave them behind on the plane like Kesha…

Or Hannah…

Or Mark…

Or lose them at airport security like Ivanka did three times!

Or just somewhere in the airport like Bradley.

It seems like people are losing their AirPods in airports and planes every 2 minutes. There are so many people on Twitter saying that the lost their AirPods while traveling.

So you might even want to consider something like this AirPods silicone case. It has lots of different colors but most importantly there is a carabiner clip so you can clip it somewhere safe. There is also a neck strap and a bracelet that means you can take your AirPods out your ears for those plane announcements without worrying about losing them.

The Takeaway

You can use AirPods or other short-range Bluetooth accessories on a plane. To do so, first enable airplane mode and if you need to you are permitted to toggle Bluetooth back on.

It’s only the cellular connection that must be disabled.

AirPods Pro or AirPods Max will work much better on a plane because of the noise cancellation.

You will probably need something like the AirFly to connect your AirPods to the in-flight entertainment.

When traveling with your AirPods take extra care not to lose them. It seems to happen to a lot of travelers.

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