Wireless earbuds and headphones, particularly Apple’s AirPods, are gaining popularity. AirPods and wireless earbuds are undeniably more convenient than over-ear headphones and wired earphones in daily life and on the road.
This is especially important when traveling, as there is no time to fiddle with cables. But don’t they rely on Bluetooth? And airplanes, well, they don’t like it when people use WiFi or other wireless technology while flying, so here’s the question: can you use AirPods on a plane?
Is it legal to use AirPods on planes? Don’t worry if you’re perplexed; we’ll go over the fundamentals in this post.
CAN I USE AIRPODS ON A PLANE?
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, you can use them on planes alongside other Bluetooth headphones (FAA). Passengers may use portable electronic devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, according to the FAA.
Passengers may bring lightweight electrically powered items as well as short-range Bluetooth accessories with them. The AirPods are well-known for being traditional wireless earbuds that require a Bluetooth connection. As a result, Airpods can be used safely on a plane during takeoff and landing.
DO AIRPODS WORK WITH IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT?
Customers can connect their wired headphones to the plane’s in-flight entertainment system on many airlines. The audio quality is extremely poor because they divided the stereo input into two separate plugs.
However, there are a few workarounds that allow us to connect our AirPods or any other Bluetooth device to the plane’s audio system.
1. Using The WiFi Network Or An App On The Plane
In a few rare cases, an in-flight WiFi network will be available inside the plane. Depending on how this network is configured, you may be able to connect without paying any additional fees, but it is best to ask before attempting to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Once connected, you can access the movies and other information, such as travel guides and other information, on the Airline’s welcome page.
If you choose to watch movies on the plane via WiFi, you can listen to the audio with any Bluetooth headphones or AirPods connected to your device. In this manner, you can connect the in-flight entertainment systems to a smartphone or laptop.
Using the Airline App, you can accomplish the same. By entering your flight details, you can have access to the entertainment systems. In this manner, you should be able to watch movies and videos while listening to music through your AirPods.
2. Using a Bluetooth Adapter
Bluetooth devices can be purchased in any store to relay the audio signal from your chair’s output headphone jack to your Bluetooth headset or AirPods for the more advanced and geeky user. There are numerous brands to choose from, but almost any model will suffice.
They have a small headphone port that must be connected to one of the two headphone outputs. There is one more step you must take: the transmitter and your Airpods must be paired for proper operation.
If everything is set up correctly, you should be able to hear the plane’s entertainment system audio. Keep in mind that airlines have a tendency to turn down the level on these outputs, but most Bluetooth transmitters have dedicated volume control. All you have to do is turn up the volume on your transmitter.
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AIRPODS ARE CONSIDERED “PEDS”?
A PED is an abbreviation for “Portable Electronic Device.” It refers to any “lightweight, electrically powered equipment.”
Handheld devices such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones are examples, as are small devices such as MP3 players, electronic toys, and headphones. As a result, your AirPods are PEDs.
Apple’s latest AirPods connect via Bluetooth 5.0. That is if you connect them to a non-Apple device. When connected to another Apple device, your AirPods use a proprietary protocol that simplifies and shortens the connection time. This protocol is built into an Apple chip known as the “H1” processor.
If you’ve ever used Bluetooth before, you know how difficult it can be to establish an initial connection. The H1 chip connects two Apple products in under 3 seconds. “It just works.” What matters is that, in the eyes of the FAA, AirPods are PEDs that use Bluetooth technology.
FAA RULING ON EXPANDED PED USE
The first PED FAA regulations were established in 1966, believe it or not. Back then, passengers wanted to bring their portable FM radios with them on the plane. So the FAA conducted some tests. What they discovered was shocking: FM radios were causing interference with the plane’s navigation systems on multiple occasions!
The FAA has conducted a number of follow-up PED studies as technology has changed and advanced over the years. PEDs now include WiFi, Bluetooth, and a variety of other technologies. Recently, at the end of 2013, the FAA issued a 222-page report titled “Recommendations on Expanding the Use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) During Flight.”
The goal was to “provide guidance on allowing additional PEDs without jeopardizing the aircraft’s continued safe operation.” Planes are now designed and certified to withstand PED interference.
So revisiting older restrictions that were put in place years ago makes a lot of sense. As a result, airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight!
WHAT ABOUT AIRPLANE MODE?
While the FAA did approve the widespread use of PEDs on planes, they did not permit the use of cellular data. Because cell phones send a different, longer-range signal, planes are still endangered.
So, for the time being, switching your phone to Airplane mode (turning off your cell data) while flying remains a federal requirement. But don’t worry, if you wanted to connect your AirPods to your iPhone, you can still do so.
Bluetooth continues to function normally even when your phone is in Airplane mode! Simply put your phone in Airplane mode first, then turn on Bluetooth again.
Alternative Video: Can You Use AirPods On A Plane?
DOMESTIC AIRLINE RULINGS ON AIRPODS USE
As previously stated, individual airlines ultimately decide which electronics they allow on their planes. Fortunately, all of the top ten domestic (US) airlines allow AirPods to be used in flight. Except for Allegiant, you can use your AirPods throughout the flight: during taxi, takeoff, and landing (also known as “gate-to-gate”).
Allegiant’s website does not explicitly state that “gate-to-gate” travel is permitted. Instead, the in-flight crew will “notify all passengers when it is safe to use their devices,” they say. Here is the exact wording of each of the top ten domestic airlines’ electronic-use policies:
|Airline||Allowed?||Exact policy wording|
|Delta||Yes, gate-to-gate||The policy allows customers to use portable electronic devices, all in airplane mode, during taxi, takeoff, and landing on flights.|
|Southwest||Yes, gate-to-gate||Customers may use small portable electronic devices (PEDs) in “airplane mode” from gate to gate|
|United||Yes, gate-to-gate||Within the U.S. (including U.S. territories), travelers may use permitted small, lightweight portable electronic devices in non-cellular transmitting mode at all times.|
|Alaska||Yes, gate-to-gate||You may use small portable electronic devices during all phases of the flight provided they are in ‘airplane/game’ mode unless the Captain directs the devices to be turned off.|
|American||Yes, gate-to-gate||You can use your cell phone, laptop, and other electronic devices onboard until advised by the flight crew, but phone calls aren’t allowed during the flight.|
|Jetblue||Yes, gate-to-gate||Portable Electronic Device use will be allowed on JetBlue aircraft during all phases of flight, including taxi, take off, cruise, and landing except during certain low-visibility landings.|
|Hawaiian||Yes, gate-to-gate||You may use portable electronic devices from departure gate to arrival gate on our domestic and most phases of our international routes.|
|Spirit||Yes, gate-to-gate||Small portable electronic devices (PEDs) may be used during all phases of flight including taxi, take-off, and landing.|
|Frontier||Yes, gate-to-gate||Passengers can use personal electronic devices in “airplane mode” during all phases of flight.|
|Allegiant||Yes, the in-flight crew determines when||Laptops, portable movie players, portable music players, and other approved devices can be used onboard the aircraft. The in-flight crew members will notify all passengers when it is safe to use these devices.|
DO AIRPODS WORK WITH IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT?
Unfortunately, most in-flight entertainment systems on modern planes do not support Bluetooth. In most cases, you’re better off using the free headphones that are provided to you. Alternatively, if you have a pair of wired headphones, use them.
However, there is some good news. To begin, you can purchase an airline Bluetooth adapter that connects to the in-flight entertainment system. This allows you to use the adapter to connect your AirPods.
I’ve heard conflicting reports on this, so do your own research before purchasing anything, but it is an option. The second piece of good news is that airlines such as United and Qatar are beginning to equip their planes with Bluetooth capabilities. That means there will be no more wires! Simply sit down and connect your wireless AirPods to the in-flight system.
HOW TO USE AIRPODS ON A PLANE?
The Federal Aviation Administration has decided to allow Bluetooth devices to be used on planes. So, in a nutshell, you can use AirPods on a plane. What you must remember is that your iPhone’s cellular connection must be turned off while on a plane.
That is why you must activate airplane mode. When you turn on airplane mode on an iPhone for the first time, it turns off all radios except Bluetooth. As a result, your AirPods should continue to function normally.
If you later turn off Bluetooth while in airplane mode, your iPhone will remember this. When you activate airplane mode again, it disables all radio communication types, including Bluetooth.
When you enable airplane mode, your AirPods will be disconnected. This may lead you to believe that you can’t use AirPods on a plane because airplane mode disables Bluetooth.
The simple solution is to enable airplane mode and then, if necessary, return to the control center and re-enable Bluetooth. As a result, your AirPods will be able to connect to your phone and you will be able to use them on the plane.
CONSIDER AIRPODS PRO OR MAX FOR NOISE CANCELING
The noise levels in the cabin are one of the issues with using regular AirPods on a plane. The engine roar and air resistance make it quite loud. You end up having to crank up the volume on your AirPods just to hear your podcasts, audiobooks, movies, or music.
AirPods are cool headphones, but listening to them at full volume for extended periods of time is bad for your ears, and they don’t sound good on a plane. AirPods Pro, on the other hand, have active noise cancellation, making them much more comfortable to use on planes.
They’re noise-canceling over-ear headphones that would also provide much better sound quality on the plane. They also have a much longer battery life if you are flying for an extended period of time. I always fly with my Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones.
They are considerably less expensive than the AirPods Max. Regular AirPods are great for walking around the city, but when you sit down somewhere, over-ear headphones provide much better sound quality, especially on a plane!
TRAVELING THROUGH TSA WITH YOUR AIRPODS
Of course, in order to use your AirPods on the plane in the first place, you must first pass through security. Headphones are permitted in both checked and carry-on bags, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Furthermore, you are not required to remove your AirPods from your luggage when passing through security! “You will be asked to remove personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag and place them into a bin with nothing placed on or under them for X-ray screening,” according to the TSA.
So, if you have a tablet, laptop, gaming console, or another device, bring it out. However, you can keep your AirPods and other small electronics in your bag.
THE GOOD AND BAD THINGS ABOUT AIRPODS AND AIR TRAVEL
AirPods are one-of-a-kind wireless headphones. Apple has introduced the AirPods and AirPods Pro, which are the most appealing devices of this era. The use of these devices in everyday life has received a lot of praise.
People do, however, wonder how to use AirPods on planes. This is a unique situation because flying is not as common as other modes of transportation. So, here are some AirPod’s likes and dislikes based on air travel.
The Good Things:
- It connects to the phone easily
- It has a great noise cancellation feature which enables it to block the annoying sound of an interior plane
- Clear and rich sound quality
- The strong connection between the phone and the AirPods
- Small in size. So, easy to carry on the plane
The Bad Things:
- Not comfortable
- Battery life is poor
- Not possible to use the entertainment system of the plane directly
These good and bad things are purely based on the traveling experience. And when you will use the AirPods then you will also be able to draw some of these conclusions about AirPods and air travel.
WHERE TO PACK AIRPODS?
If you’re more concerned with how to pack your AirPods than with how to use them, I have some suggestions. AirPods can be packed in either carry-on or checked luggage. Even though the charging case contains a lithium battery, it is allowed in checked luggage because it is built into the case.
However, never put AirPods in checked luggage. Unfortunately, items from hold baggage do go missing, and AirPods would be an ideal pocket-sized item to steal. If you only want to bring your AirPods but don’t plan on using them during your flight, I recommend packing them safely in your carry-on bag.
CONCLUSION: Use AirPods On A Plane
Bluetooth on planes was approved by the FAA in 2013. That means you can use your AirPods safely and legally from gate to gate! However, you must still put your phone in airplane mode because cell data poses a risk during active flight.
Finally, the TSA accepts AirPods in both carry-on and checked baggage and does not require you to remove them from your bag at security checkpoints.
FAQs About Using AirPods On A Plane
Can I use my AirPods on an airplane?
In a nutshell, yes, you can use your AirPods on a plane. Communication devices, such as mobile phones, can interfere with the navigation instruments inside the aircraft; however, the Bluetooth connection used by AirPods is a short-range wave that has little to no effect on those.
Can you use AirPods without WiFi on a plane?
To turn off the cellular radio, put your phone in Airplane Mode, then turn Bluetooth back on. This will keep you within FAA guidelines while still allowing you to listen to music. You can also connect to onboard Wi-Fi if your flight has it.
Can you use AirPods during takeoff?
The short answer is: just use them! Since AirPods count as short-range Bluetooth devices, you’re free to use them on planes.