Can you use AirPods on a plane?

 A man looks out the window of a plan while wearing AirPods.
A man looks out the window of a plan while wearing AirPods.

Using the best noise cancelling earbuds, like the AirPods Pro 2 or AirPods Max, is a surefire way of making your airplane journey a lot more pleasant. Blocking out engine noises or simply the people around you who are talking too loudly makes the difference between an exhausting trip and one that's a relaxing time where you can catch up on that movie or podcast you've been meaning to get to.

However, is it possible to use the best AirPods on a plane? The simple answer is yes. Even if you have Airplane mode turned on, your Apple or Android phone or tablet device will be able to still connect via Bluetooth to your AirPods. But there are some caveats and some rules that you need to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know before you get on your next flight, along with some advice on the steps for how to get your AirPods connected while on a plane.

Steps for how to use AirPods on a plane

  • You can use your AirPods with a Bluetooth-enabled device on a plane

  • Make sure to turn on Airplane mode by going to your device's Settings

  • Connect AirPods via a wire with an adapter or Bluetooth transmitter

How to use AirPods on a plane: A guide

How to use AirPods on a plane

Man asleep on a plane
Man asleep on a plane

(Image: © Getty)

You can use your AirPods as you normally would when travelling on an airplane. Airlines are fine with you using any of the best headphones on their flight including all AirPods models as long as you have Airplane mode turned on during and after takeoff. Not sure how to turn this setting on? We'll outline how to do that in more detail below. One thing to keep in mind is that some airlines may choose to prohibit the use of AirPods and other earbuds during takeoff and landing, but generally during a flight, they’re allowed. Fortunately, while you need to turn off the cellular connection on your phone, that won’t interfere with Bluetooth and accessories to your AirPods.

How to turn on Airplane mode

A close up of a phone or tablet's settings with Airplane mode turned on
A close up of a phone or tablet's settings with Airplane mode turned on

(Image: © UnSplash; Sten Ritterfeld)

If you’ve never needed to use Airplane mode on your phone, don’t worry. The process takes seconds and is super simple to remember how to use once you learn how. All you need to do is go to Settings on your Bluetooth-enabled device and look for the Airplane Mode to toggle it On. Your phone or tablet will now no longer connect to a cellular network and as the name suggests, it’s fine to be used on an airplane.

How to connect to a plane’s in-flight system

Panasonic Astrova in-flight TV
Panasonic Astrova in-flight TV

(Image: © Panasonic)

If you want to connect your AirPods to the airplane’s in-flight entertainment system, you'll need a headphone airplane adaptor. That’s because many airlines don't use a standard 3.5mm headphone jack so you’ll need a specific type to be able to plug them in.

If you own the original EarPods (or new USB-C EarPods) or Apple's over-ears AirPods Max, then you can use the 3.5mm Audio Cable to connect them to a carrier's on-board entertainment system. But keep in mind that you'll require a dual pin adapter. You can also invest in the Twelve South AirFly Pro Bluetooth Transmitter if you want to use your AirPods wirelessly.

To further complicate matters, some airlines don’t allow wireless earphones to be connected to their in-flight system, even via an adaptor. It’s worth checking with your airline ahead of time to see whether your wired headphones will work with the entertainment system.

How to use AirPods on a plane: Final thoughts

We’re all used to loading up one of the best music streaming services and indulging in our favorites. There’s an obvious issue here if you’re 30,000 feet above land and switched over to Airplane mode – no signal.

To listen to music or watch anything on your phone or tablet, you’re going to need to download the content to your device. Many services allow for playlists to be available offline with the best streaming service doing similar for TV shows and movies. Make sure you’ve downloaded something ahead of time.

While you’re planning ahead, make sure your AirPods are fully charged, along with the charging case. If you want to be extra careful or your flight is a long-haul one, put your charging cable in your hand carry-on so you can recharge them as you travel.

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