Everyone knows that when you are on an airplane, you have to put your cell phone and tablet in “airplane mode.” This usually turns off all cellular, wifi and Bluetooth connections. You are literally disconnected from the world — at least electronically. This would seem to be a problem if you want to use your wireless earbuds to listen to music or a downloaded movie. Or, if you’re otherwise trying to keep your child entertained during the flight. But, it turns out that this is a problem that can be easily solved!
Can you use wireless headphones on a plane? Yes, you can if you know what you’re doing! Keep reading to find out exactly how to do it.
What Are Wireless Headphones?
Wireless headphones are an advanced technology game-changer.
They are headphones that connect to various devices, such as your iPhone, computer, Xbox, or other electronic devices without a connected cable. Usually this is done via Bluetooth.
However, they can also connect via infrared and radio. Due to its ability to transmit to other technological devices seamlessly, Bluetooth is a common feature on most of today’s electronic devices,
How Do Wireless Headphones Work?
Wireless headphones are the same as wired headphones – just without the pesky wires. Transmission is achieved by using low-powered radio signals. Wireless headphones need a transmitter in order to function.
Think of the headphone as the transducer of the radio signal. It changes the audio signal output into a radio frequency, which is then transmitted over the air.
Your wireless headphones include a radio receiver. The radio receiver changes the audio signals that are transmitted into sound, which we then enjoy.
The latest version of Bluetooth is quite incredible in that it enables seamless pairing with other (same version) Bluetooth devices.
Why Is “Can You Use Wireless Headphones on a Plane” an Open Question?
As you likely know, airlines have had special rules regarding electronic devices for years. For instance, you’re told to store your laptop for takeoff and landing. And, you’re told to turn off your cell phone or place it in airplane mode.
Given that you can’t use your cell phone on a plane, that does suggest that you wouldn’t be able to use your wireless headphones. If there are concerns about cell phones interfering with the airplane navigation system, wouldn’t the BlueTooth signals also interfere?
Turns out the answer is no, not really. The short explanation: cell phones try to connect with cell towers on the ground. Airplanes also communicate with towers on the ground. But other wireless functions transmit using other means. So the issue today with your cell phone is making sure that the cellular function is turned off — which happens when you use airplane mode. You can still use wifi and Bluetooth.
Benefits Of Using Wireless Headphones On A Plane
- No wires, no hassle: Wireless headphones make life so much simpler when you are squeezed into a tiny seating space for a long-haul flight. You don’t have to worry about any wires knocking over drinks. Or, navigating how to easily get your seatmates to and from the aisle without tripping.
- Travel-friendly: Wireless headphones are extremely portable. Particularly wireless earbuds.
- Noise-Cancelling: Grab yourself some wireless noise-canceling headphones and enjoy a 10-hour flight without being subjected to the hell of an endlessly screaming toddler, or ‘the snorer’.
- Seamless streaming and superior audio: This is dependent on the quality of headphones.
Factors To Consider
Until recently, you would not be able to use your wireless headphones to connect to the plane’s in-flight entertainment center. But, airlines are having a technological overhaul and some airlines have already implemented new entertainment screens that allow their passengers the luxury of wireless connection.
Being able to whip out your own comfy wireless headset that you know and love for in-flight movies, has to be a godsend. Yay, no more free (and rubbish) in-ear headphones. That said, there are certain factors to consider.
The Airline: For In-Flight Entertainment
While some airlines have had a tech upgrade to enable Bluetooth connectivity, others have yet to catch up. Airlines such as Qantas, Emirates, Hawaiian, and WestJet airlines have made the change.
On these flights, you will have no issue using your wireless AirPods or over-ear headset. United Airlines and Delta are currently upgrading their entertainment systems to support Bluetooth connectivity on in-flight entertainment systems.
Most domestic airlines allow passengers to use Bluetooth headsets and devices and your wireless ear pods should operate without causing any issues.
However, some international airlines forbid or restrict the use of some or all Bluetooth devices. It is a good idea to check which airlines permit use of Bluetooth devices and with what limitations before booking (and boarding) your flight.
Take-Off and Landing
Airlines do not allow you to use Bluetooth devices on take off or landing. Also, you may find that one or two airlines charge for using Bluetooth connection (or will soon).
Airline regulators cover different areas of the globe and have different rules regarding the use of Bluetooth headset and other Bluetooth-enabled devices.in China, the use of Bluetooth devices is forbidden.
In such instances, once you fly over an area that does not allow Bluetooth usage, passengers will be asked to turn off their devices.
First, you need to make sure you have a device that is paired with your headphones. This is usually your cell phone or tablet.
Second, place your device in airplane mode.
Third, if your airplane mode function automatically turned off wifi and Bluetooth in addition to cellular, you can go into your device settings to turn the Bluetooth back on while keeping the airplane mode in place. (The same is true for wifi.)
Fourth, if your headphones aren’t working when you turn on the Bluetooth, check whether there’s a Bluetooth setting on your headphones that also turned off when you hit “airplane mode.” (For instance, Apple and Samsung will automatically turn off Bluetooth functions when airplane mode is initiated.) If the Bluetooth is turned off, switch it back on.
Instructions For In-App Bluetooth Provision
Some airlines such as American Airlines have really upped their in-flight entertainment game. They offer a downloadable app that uses the plane’s Wi-Fi. All you need to do is download their app, and you’re good to go.
Simple. It should be noted that only a few airlines offer this perk.
There’s no denying that replacing the cheap wired plane headphones with your own wireless version will make your plane travel so much nicer.
With a little forethought and planning, you can change a suboptimal flight into a few hours of sublime entertainment, or undisturbed rest.