Air travel need not be daunting and infuriating. Everyone deals with long lines and uncomfortable long waits.
You need to have a lot of patience with you.
Fortunately, the best earbuds for airplane travel can help alleviate your stress levels and provide the most comfortable and enjoyable experience.
5 Of the Best Earbuds for Airplane Travel for The Year 2018 (Rating Tables)
Benefits of Wearing the Best Earbuds for Airplane Travel
Even if you fly often, you do not become accustomed to the inconvenience of unwanted, outside noise. Also, the perennial problem of extreme air conditioned blasts, limited legroom, and turbulence add to the uncomfortable experience.
Thanks to earbuds, we can mute the sound of noisy passengers and loud plane engines. However, different kinds of headphones offer different types of noise isolation or cancellation. For instance, the traditional over-the-ears headphones block some of the noise because the ear cups act as sound insulators.
Today, noise-canceling technology can block the noise by producing the opposite sound waves. So, you do not hear the ambient noise, but this type of technology is expensive. If you want noise cancellation earbuds, you need not break the bank because there are mid-range headphones that provide top-notch noise cancellation as well.
Do you know that the airline pilots were the first users of noise cancellation headphones? People followed suit and started using them as part of their everyday life.
If you are on a long haul flight, you can wear your earbuds even without listening to music. Just activate the noise cancellation feature, and you get a peaceful sleep. You will not hear any sound from the outside world. It is just you and silence.
Your earbuds will drown out the roar of the airplane engine and the chatter of your seatmate. Even if you are not into music, the noise cancellation earphones are a great way to tune out the noise in long-haul flights.
The noise level of a jet take-off is about 150 decibels which can cause eardrum rupture. Furthermore, the sound level at an aircraft carrier deck is about 140 decibels. If you are 305 meters away from a jet take-off, its noise level is about 100 decibels. Continuous exposure to it for eight hours can cause severe damage to your ears.
On the other hand, an aircraft like a DC-9 or Boeing 737 at one nautical mile before landing produces a noise level of 90 decibels. The noise is comparable to four times as loud as the sound of a running vacuum cleaner. Exposure to 90 decibels sound for eight hours can cause possible damage to the ears.
Furthermore, noise not only damages the ears. It also causes an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. You are likely to suffer difficulties in concentrating and sleeping because of noise. Since you lack sleep, you can become moody the whole day. At 65 decibels, noise can cause damage to your physical and mental health.
Unwanted noise can make you angry and irritated because it feels like an invasion of your privacy. It causes you to be tired because you put in more effort to block the noise out. So, when you can shut the noise out, you will feel instant relief. Trying to block unwanted noise can increase your stress levels.
Airplane pilots use noise-canceling headphones to make them comfortable on long-haul flights. Then, travelers used them too. Today, even gym rats and music lovers use them. Some employees use them in the office to block the noise out so they can focus on their tasks.
Active noise cancellation technology uses microphones to capture low-frequency noise. Then, it neutralizes it before it even reaches your ears. The headphone creates the different sound of the ambient noise. The two sounds then cancel each other out.
Moreover, this type of headsets lowers the volume of outside noise by as much as 45 decibels. With the advancement of technology, noise cancellation has become efficient in blocking unwanted noise.
Related Topic: Best Durable Earbuds
Can You Use Wireless Headphones on Airplanes?
It is difficult and inconvenient to travel by plane. It would have been nice to have access to technology while on long flights. However, many of these wireless devices use Bluetooth technology.
The Federal Aviation Administration approved the use of Bluetooth devices for airline passengers in 2013. However, airlines have their own rules concerning its use. Most of them allow the use of Bluetooth devices during flights.
Most American airlines allow their passengers to use Bluetooth devices; however, they do not include it in their policies. Some airline carriers (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all-list) will enable the use of wireless accessories if the passengers deactivate their cellular service.
However, they do not allow the use of the Bluetooth connection to a laptop or tablet during takeoff or landing.
International airlines, however, allow the use of Bluetooth devices except during takeoff, taxiing, or landing. Some airlines only allow Bluetooth earbuds, but only when the plane has reached a certain altitude, usually at least 10,000 feet.
Moreover, the battery must be removable. Some carriers do not allow wireless mouse while others enable Bluetooth headphones even during takeoff and landing.
However, no airlines allow the use of cellular data. Thus, if you will be using your wireless earbuds, you must ensure that your device must be in airplane mode.
Some devices turn off cellular data automatically when placed in airplane mode. Your music source may not allow you to use Bluetooth while on airplane mode. If this is the case, you may turn off your cellular data manually.
Furthermore, you must know that airline policies can change over time. Thus, you can expect the Bluetooth rules to change at any time. If you are unsure, you can ask the flight attendant for regulations regarding the use of wireless earbuds.
What to Look for in Earbuds for Airplane Travel Before Buying?
Plane flights can be uncomfortable. Aside from the long lines that you need to go through, you also feel the rapid air pressure change once the plane takes off or lands. Moreover, you hear the engine’s obnoxious roar when you try to sleep.
You can yawn, chew gum, or take medicine to relieve your ears of the pressure. Such things may help or lessen the discomfort. You may listen to music with the best earbuds for airplane travel to calm you down.
Music, after all, is soothing and can do wonders for your mental state.
With your earphones, you can block off the noise from the aircraft engine, the noisy chatter of your seatmate, or the sound of a child crying in the next row.
If you want to buy earbuds for your next air travel, you can consider the following tips:
1. Sound Quality
If you are buying your earbuds from a local store, you need to consider the sound quality by testing the device. The treble and bass must be accurate and static free.
The merits of an excellent sound include depth, sound reproduction, balance, and clarity. If you buy your earphones online, you must ensure that seller has return policies so that you can exchange or return them.
2. Background Noise
If you are taking a long haul flight, you can watch your favorite movies or listen to your favorite music through your headphones. Thus, your earbuds must be of excellent quality to make your flight enjoyable. The earphones must have noise cancellation or noise reduction to block ambient noise.
I find the sound of the airplane jets and the continuous buzzing irritating. At times, I even have headaches while on one of my flights. Due to the noise, I do not even get the quality and clarity of music on my device. Fortunately, some headphones now have noise cancellation features.
Noise cancellation effectively reduces the following low-frequency noises:
- Airplane cabins
- Disruptive wind noise
- Vehicles on the road
- Electronic humming
On the other hand, some headphones offer noise isolation. These earphones provide a snug fit on the ear to serve as a physical barrier against external noise that can contaminate the audio. They are cheaper than the noise cancellation earbuds and can be over-the-ear and in-ear styles.
Most airline passengers complain about the tight fit of these earbuds that cause their discomfort and irritation. Some headphone manufacturers provide more sizes for ear tips so that users can interchange them for a more comfortable fit.
If you opt for active noise cancellation headphones, you need to ensure that you can adjust its performance. Some new models change noise cancellation automatically. Aside from blocking external noise, these models also improve the noise cancellation as the engine noise increases. Thus, you enjoy your travel playlist without changing the volume.
Moreover, your headphones must provide quick access to the external sounds. For instance, some models put your playlist on pause automatically if you lift your ear cup to talk to someone. Then, when you put the ear cup back, you continue to listen to where you left off. Some earphone models also turn off the noise cancellation feature by tapping on the ear cup.
Your chosen headphones must be easy to carry, as you will be moving around as you travel. They must be lightweight, durable, and easy to pack. If you are running about, I suggest you buy wireless earbuds to prevent a tangled mess that comes with wired headphones.
When I travel, I make sure that I go light. Thus, even with my choice of wireless earbuds, I ensure that they are compact and lightweight. Also, I choose earphones with a good carry case, so I do not need to worry about the physical damage whenever I put them in my luggage.
If you do not like the in-ear headphones, you can opt for the foldable headphones. These earpieces can fit into that tight space in your luggage.
4. Sound Leaking
An excellent quality earphone does not leak sound to disturb your seatmate. Moreover, it must have active noise cancellation to block any outside noise.
Even if it is of high quality, you chosen earbuds must be affordable. In general, the more expensive the earphones, the more features they have to provide the ultimate sound quality.
6. Headphone Model
The choice of headphone is personal. Some users prefer the earphones that they insert in their ears because they are more comfortable wearing them. Still, some users find them irritating and prefer the over-the-ear or on-ear headsets. Some people complain about their bulk.
Those individuals who wear earrings or eyeglasses do not like using the on-ear models because they are uncomfortable.
An over-the-ear headphone can be “closed” or “open.” A closed model encapsulates the ears to muffle outside noise and seal in the audio. However, if you use it, you become oblivious to the world. You may not hear the pilot’s announcements or the commotion at the back of the cabin.
An “open” model, on the other hand, has ear cups’ openings so that you can still hear the outside sounds, including the buzzing of jet engines. Moreover, you may disturb your seatmate with the music on your playlist because that sound can escape also.
This model is lighter than the previous model mentioned. It presses on the ears and not on the sides of the head. Most users find this more comfortable than the over-the-ear models because their ears do not feel hot after long hours of listening. However, ambient noise can get in and distort the sound quality.
On-the-ear earphones also have “open” and “closed” styles. Some models are foldable for easy storage inside their carrying pouches.
This kind of earphones rests outside the ear canal and in the ear’s bowl. Some models can extend into the ear canal. Most users prefer this model because they come with portable audio players and smartphones. The in-the-ear type seals the sound and does not let ambient noise mix with your audio. Manufacturers provide different sizes of ear tips to ensure a comfortable and secure fit.
7. Comfort and Style
When you buy your headphones, you must ensure that they fit your style. For instance, in-ear headphones can compromise your comfort but provide better noise cancellation and reduction. On the other hand, over-the-ear headphones are not fashionable, but they do not strain your inner ear.
In-ear headphones are more comfortable to pack than the over-the-ear ones because they are less bulky. On the other hand, expensive over-the-ear headphones produce a larger sound stage for a riveting listening experience.
Comfort is significant during travel. Everyone wants his flying experience stress free. I use my headphones during long-haul flights. As such, it is essential that I feel comfortable wearing them. Some in-ear earphones can hurt the ears when used over long hours. On the other hand, over-ear headphones need plenty of cushioning for them to provide comfort. If you are buying earbuds, you must ensure that you get the most comfortable fit.
8. Battery Life and Accessories
If you take long-haul flights, you need to look for wireless earbuds with at least 12 hours of battery life on a single charge so you can enjoy uninterrupted playback. It is a wise decision to bring an excellent battery backup. Also, some wireless headphones have a standard audio cable that you can use in case the battery dies.
The wireless earbuds that I carry with me whenever I travel come with the right accessories like an airplane adapter. Sometimes, I get bored with the music on my list, so I use the airplane adapter to access the audio provided by the plane’s entertainment system.
9. Wireless or Wired
Thanks to Bluetooth technology, portable headphones are in vogue. Most manufacturers provide wireless headphones of various designs and styles, so it is easy for everyone to choose one that matches his personality.
However, these headphones require a power source to work. Some models need the traditional AAA batteries while the latest ones have built-in rechargeable batteries. If you are bringing a wireless headphone in your travels, you must ensure that you have access to an electrical outlet or power bank to charge the batteries.
Of course, sound quality can disintegrate even with the best wireless earbuds. Some travelers still prefer the wired set.
Related Topic: Best Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Under 100$
10. Bluetooth Technology
The Bluetooth technology used in a pair of earbuds also play an important part in choosing the best one to suit your needs.
This technology came out in 2013 and was designed to manage IoT or the Internet of Things. Your chosen earbuds may not have this technology, but it is still good to know about it.
The Bluetooth 4.1 technology includes features like:
- 24Mbps speeds
- 2.4 – 2.485 GHz bandwidths
- 300 feet coverage
Bluetooth 4.2: The Bluetooth 4.2 technology has the same specifications and features as its predecessor but uses low energy or power. It came out in 2014.
Bluetooth 5.0: The Bluetooth 5.0 was available in 2016 with a few substantial upgrades like:
- Low energy
- 48Mbps speeds
- 300 meter or 985 feet range
These upgrades, except the low energy, may not apply to headphones since users do not stay 1000 feet away from their gadgets. They also do not transfer data while listening to their favorite music.
This technology is significant to Bluetooth speakers, though. If your headphone uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology, you need to ensure that your smartphones or digital music players also have the Bluetooth 5.0 version.
Here is Our Full-In-depth Review On The 5 Best Earbuds for Airplane Travels this 2018
1. Bose QuietControl 30 wireless headphones (Best Earbuds for Airplane Travel)
The Bose QuietControl 30 is for people who want portable wireless earbuds with noise cancellation capabilities. However, some individuals may not like the around-the-neck design.
What to look in the Best Earbuds for Airplane Travel? Design!
The around-the-neck design is well built and comfortable. It may be tangled with your clothes, especially if you wear many layers while riding the airplane. You can control the noise cancellation through the two buttons on the in-line remote. I find the Bluetooth and power button too stiff.
The QuietControl 30 wireless earbuds are portable. I can put them in their sturdy case when not in use. The headphones feel high-end because of the build quality. Their premium appeal is better than the other around-the-neck earbuds.
The earbud tips provide a snug fit to your ear canals. They are perfect for long-haul flights because you will not experience fatigue when wearing them. Also, the neckband may feel bulky, yet comfortable.
The buttons offer the usual functionalities like track skipping, call/music, and volume controls. Two extra buttons are for noise cancelation controls. However, I find them difficult to press because of the thick rubber-like material that covers the inline remote.
What I like about the Bose QuietControl 30 is that it allows my ears to breathe. Unlike the other headphones, my ears do not sweat more. When I travel, these earbuds do not occupy a lot of space in my bag, but they do not fit in my pocket.
What Important Functions in a Top Earbuds for Airplane Travel? Sound
Regarding sound quality, the QuietControl 30 earbuds are above average compared to its competitors. Its bass is punchy, consistent, thick, and well balanced. The midrange is almost flawless, and the treble is decent sounding. Thus, this set of earphones is suited for every genre because of its versatility.
However, you can expect the midrange to give less emphasis to the lead instruments and vocals, and the treble is quite uneven. Yet, like the other headphones, the Bose QuietControl offers perfect imaging. Its soundstage is not out-of-the-head and large.
The bass is almost perfect and excellent for film scores, hip-hop, and electronic dance music. The high bass and mid-bass, although virtually flat, but the overemphasis provides a punch of kick drums and the body of bass guitars.
The midrange is excellent, and the response is very even and flat. It means that the lead instruments and vocals take the backstage, and the treble and bass gain more emphasis than other earphone models. However, because of the earbud design, the soundstage is not spacious and open. This disadvantage is ok because the earphones provide the needed isolation whenever you ride airplanes.
These earbuds do not leak at high volumes. Thus, it is perfect to bring whenever I commute and travel. The midrange cancels out speech while the bass range is impressive. I cannot hear the rumble of bus and airplane engines. The treble range, however, is above average.
Moreover, the Bose QuietControl 30 has excellent leakage performance. People around me cannot hear whatever I am playing.
The in-line microphone is sub-par. Your speech will sound thin, lacking in detail, and muffled when you use it in a quiet room. Thus, it may be difficult to understand conversations. Moreover, you cannot use it in noisy situations. Separating the speech from the noise would be hard.
The in-line microphone also cannot handle noise, which means that if you want to use the receiver, you must be in quiet environments.
Battery life is above average, but app support is lacking. The battery can last for about 11 hours and charging time can take about 2.5 hours. You cannot use the headphones when the battery is charging.
The Bose QuietControl 30 lacks features like room and Equalizer effects. The app is not robust; however, you can control noise cancelation through the Bose Connect app. But, you do not need this feature because the inline remote also has it.
If you use the wireless headphone to watch movies, you will discover the connection to be quite lagging. You can pair it with your device through Bluetooth. The connect range is decent. Due to some latency, these Bose earbuds are not perfect for watching videos and movies.
The Bose QuietControl 30 headphones are excellent for travelers and commuters. I recommend them because these earbuds are portable, comfortable, and isolate perfectly in loud environments. Also, because of low leakage, you will not disturb your seatmate.
Moreover, the sound quality will please most people. However, if you want pure pleasure for critical listening, these earphones may not be for you. The treble and mid ranges are well balanced, and the bass is excellent. However, you do not get outstanding soundstage.
These earphones are also excellent for sports and fitness because the earbuds tips offer a stable and comfortable fit. Even if you are into intense exercise routines, they will not fall to the ground.
Aside from my travels and commutes, I also use these earbuds in the office because they offer significant isolation. The sound will not leak even if I keep the volumes high. However, I do not recommend them for home theater and gaming use because of latency issues.
2. Bose QuietComfort 20i
The Bose QuietComfort 20i earbuds provide excellent noise cancellation with superb comfort and sound. When you use them, you will discover that you cannot hear any ambient noise or outside music. Moreover, these headphones silence the sound of speech.
I find this set of earbuds comfortable to the point that I forget that I am wearing them. The soft silicone rests comfortably against my ear openings that I do not feel any discomfort even if I wear them for long periods. Moreover, the earphones remain secure. The box contains small, medium, and large ear tips sizes.
The excellent sound quality produces a punchy and deep bass while the highs and lows are clear and crisp. If you are into classical music, you will discover that you will not hear any distortion even at high volumes. Instrumental music sounds well defined, clear, and crisp.
Thanks to its active noise cancellation, you will hear all the notes and details in the music even when you are in noisy environments like airplanes and buses. You will like the bright and punchy bass response in pop music and electronic dance music. The sound quality is perfect with midrange emphasis and fun sound signature.
The QuietComfort 20i earphones are lightweight and small so that you can bring them anywhere. The battery can run for 16 hours, so these earbuds are perfect for long-haul flights. It only takes two hours to charge them from USB.
What I like about this pair of earphones is that I can still use it even with a dead battery. However, I will not be able to use its active noise cancelation feature, and the sound quality is not perfect anymore.
These earphones come with an integrated microphone that you can use with your mobile phones. Moreover, you can set the mic to “Aware Mode” so that you can still hear outside noise. This mode is an important safety feature when you are in the city.
The Bose QuietComfort 20i is my perfect companion when I fly because of its active noise cancellation feature.
Concerning noise cancellation, the Bose QuietComfort 20i headphone is king and ideal for Windows and Android cellphones. It provides high-quality sound performance with notable audio distinct to the Bose brand.
These earbuds are perfect for long-haul flights. You will discover little pleasures in listening to your favorite videos or music even when you are airborne.
3. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC40BT QuietPoint
Aside from being wireless earbuds, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC40BT QuietPoint is an in-ear type that provides active noise cancelation.
The QuietPoint has large, traditional earbuds with a chunky neckband that houses the battery and remote. The band’s slight rubbery finish provides high friction and tension that stays still even when I move without gripping my neck or pulling down the earphones.
The controls are on the left side of the neckband, so I can switch on and off the noise cancelation feature and change the volume with ease. The microphones can track ambient noise then produce the reverse waves to cancel it out effectively. However, Audio-Technica earbuds increase sound pressure as they reduce noise, but it is bearable.
Active noise cancelation drowns out the noise from public transport like airplanes. However, in some cases, it distracts the midrange drone. Bluetooth connection, as with the other wireless headphones, is not perfect. The range allows me to move around without breakups although there are some bearable glitches.
If I do not use the active noise cancelation feature, the battery can last up to 13 hours. However, if I turn it on, the headphones can run for 8 hours. If the battery dies, I use a 3.5mm cable. It takes about 3 hours to charge the battery completely.
Its Bluetooth technology allows me to connect to two devices simultaneously. I can switch back and forth to these gadgets through the headset. The box includes various sizes of ear tips for that perfect fit I like.
The bass has excellent quality, fast, and intricate. It is something that will not strike you when you first try it on. This top quality and restrained quantity is the signature of Audio-Technica.
I have a problem with the earphones’ higher frequencies because they are prone to sibilance. Also, the upper mids have a synthetic, hard edge, but they are not deal breakers because these earbuds do not cause fatigue after long hours of use. If you are an audiophile, you may not like them.
I find this Audio-Technica ATH-ANC40BT perfect for my travels. It has a small pouch that can fit inside my luggage. Also, it comes with an airplane adapter that I can use even in my in-flight air travels.
I like it because the earbuds have a wired option when the battery dies. The quality of the sound does not change when I switch on and off the active noise cancellation.
If you want the flexibility to use wireless and wired earbuds during your travels, then these earphones are your best bet.
4. Beoplay E4
The BeoPlay E4 headphones are admirable for their active noise cancellation features and sound quality. However, they are uncomfortable to carry because of their wired control and remote box.
If you are after aesthetics, the BeoPlay E4 is right for you because of its matte black finish. The stainless steel earbuds do not feel too cumbersome in the ear. The box contains five various earbud sizes, airline jack adaptor, velvety case, and micro USB cable for charging.
However, the placement of the active noise cancelation control and charging point is massively infuriating. It can scratch your music player if you put in in the same pocket. If you let it hang outside your pocket, it will add weight and drag your earbuds.
The earphones provide a robust noise cancelation feature and a balanced sound. I can use the active noise cancelation for 20 hours; however, the mileage depends on the volume levels. In general, battery life is commendable.
The noise-canceling feature is perfect for blocking ambient noise. It is best for playing music because it effectively mutes outside sound. I use these headphones whenever I am on long-haul flights. The BeoPlay E4 produces a balanced sound with a little more bass and consistent tone.
Whenever I use the microphone to answer a call, I get an excellent call quality.
Except for the frustrating noise-canceling box, the BeoPlay E4 earphones are of excellent build and sound quality. The active noise cancelation feature is at par with the best in-ears headphones available in the market.
However, the placement of the control box of active noise cancelation is annoying. If you use the earbuds for long hours, you will be annoyed even more.
5. Phiaton BT 220 NC
Frequently, the most effective active noise cancellation also commands the highest price. It is not the case with the Phiaton BT 220 NC, which has incredible noise capabilities for daily use.
Build and Design
The Phiaton BT 220 Noise Cancellation earbuds have the half-in-ear design where one part of the earphones blocks outside noise at the outer ear canal. The advantage of this design is that its ear tip insertion is shallower than the other models. It means that I only need to insert the ear tips to keep the earphones in place.
Unlike the other Bluetooth earbuds, the Phiaton BT-220 BC houses the noise cancellation circuit inside the Bluetooth remote box. Thus, the remote looks like a considerable in-line remote control.
The remote has a switch to control the active noise cancellation technology, a volume rocker, and a call/power button. Also, the microphone sits atop the main dial. This model has a metal clip for keeping the remote attached to my shirt.
I can pair these earphones to any device through Bluetooth or NFC. This Phiaton model allows me to connect to two devices at the same time. Thus, I can switch between the gadgets easily.
I can use the BT 220 NC earphones for a maximum of 16 hours of continuous playback. According to the manufacturer, this model has around 500 hours of standby time if noise cancellation is off. However, the battery performance depends on how long you use the noise cancellation feature and how loud you play your music.
If the battery dies, I can connect the headphones to my device through the 3.5mm audio cable. The micro USB cable is for charging the battery.
There is never a lack of clarity in these earbuds’ sound. The Phiaton BT 220 NC allows the other sound spectrum to shine while keeping the bass laidback. I use my smartphone to bump out the bass in case I want more of it.
The foam in the ear tips causes the treble to be less defined.
What I like about these earbuds is that the active noise cancelation feature offers superb sound quality. They can block up to 95% of ambient noise so I can enjoy pure listening pleasure.
The box also contains a soft carrying pouch, a USB charging cable, a pair of Comply foam ear tips, a 35mm audio cable, an optional neck strap, four pairs of silicone ear tips, and a manual.
The noise cancellation feature is awe-inspiring with the Phiaton BT 220 NC. However, the earphones stick out of the ears. If you are a frequent traveler, you will surely love this headphone because it gives you the peace you want.
You can enjoy your travel better if you have your headphones with you. If you are on the lookout for the “best earbuds for airplane travel“, I hope that you learned from this article.
- Editor Rating
- Rated 5 stars
- 5 Best Earbuds for Airplane Travel - A Greater Flight Experience (2018)
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Do you get tired and irritated with the roar of jets when you travel by air? Click here if you want to have access to the best earbuds for airplane travel.