You can use Apple AirPods and other wireless headphones on most flights as long as you have airplane mode enabled and cellular data off.
However, certain companies have restrictions on these devices.
To make flying less stressful, you need to know what rules you must follow.
Thus, here is everything you need to know about using AirPods and other Bluetooth headphones on a plane.
Can You Use AirPods on a Plane?
Thus, individual businesses can specify certain times when you can use a Bluetooth device like AirPods and other wireless headphones. Sometimes you can only use Bluetooth devices when at cruising altitude or when you have airplane mode enabled.
Most airlines, though, are less restrictive and allow you to use them from gate to gate. Thus, you never have to toggle Bluetooth off.
If you are ever unsure, ask a flight attendant if you can use your devices. They will know the specific guidelines.
As a general rule, the following companies allow you to use AirPods from gate to gate.
- United Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Air France
- Alaska Airlines
These companies allow you to use AirPods during non-critical parts of the flight, usually meaning you can’t use them during take-off and landing.
- American Airlines
- British Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Air Canada
- Allegiant Airlines
Just be aware that these rules can change. Check with your airline directly if it is not one of those above.
How to Connect AirPods on a Plane?
When you board a plane, the pilot will ask you to put your phone and any other devices on airplane mode using your phone’s Control Center. They ask you to use airplane mode because your cell data can mess with radio signals in the plane.
But, the signals that your AirPods use for a Bluetooth connection are generally safe because they are low-powered and short-range.
Thus, once you have turned on airplane mode, you can go into your settings and re-enable Bluetooth to connect your AirPods to your Apple iPhone or another device.
On Apple products, you can connect through the Control Center, while on an Android device, you can do this in your settings.
Newer phones should recognize that you have Bluetooth on with airplane mode and remember for next time. If not, you can just turn it back on manually on your device.
Then, once you re-enable Bluetooth, you can use your AirPods like usual.
However, be sure to listen to any flight attendants if they ask you to turn them off or enable airplane mode.
While many airlines allow you to have a Bluetooth device, there are various reasons you might have to turn them off temporarily. Take-off and landing are the two most common times that you need to keep devices off.
Finally, remember that AirPods Pro works better on airplanes than regular AirPods because they have active noise cancellation and better sound quality.
Can You Use AirPods with the In-Flight Entertainment System?
No one wants to use the cheap earphones on the plane. But, do AirPods work on in-flight entertainment systems?
Since airplanes tend to rely on wired connections for earphones, it can be tricky to use AirPods to watch movies on your flight. That said, there are ways to use your AirPods for in-flight entertainment as long as you enable airplane mode.
If the flight you are on only has the option for a wired connection using a headphone jack, you will need to prep beforehand if you want to use your AirPods on in-flight systems. There are several Bluetooth adapters you can find online that will work with plane headphone connections.
The best options are adaptable to airplanes with dual or single plugs for headphones. However, you should note that these don’t always work perfectly, so read customer reviews.
Luckily the options are expanding these days. You may even get on an airplane that has built-in Bluetooth-capable entertainment, which makes the process simple.
Other companies, such as American Airlines, have apps you can download on your devices to stream entertainment. Thus, you can use your AirPods with your laptop or phone just like normal.
You will have to download the app before boarding, of course. Additionally, this option is only available on airplane flights with Wi-Fi service.
But, even with all of these options, it is still a good idea to bring a good pair of wired earbuds with a two plug adapter just in case.
Can You Charge AirPods on a Plane?
Since an AirPods battery life is short, you may wonder if you can charge your headphones or even your iPhone on a long flight. But the answer depends on your airline.
Whether you can charge your AirPods or iPhone is also dependent on the specific plane. Some will only have power options in certain classes or rows.
The best way to tell if you can charge your AirPods or iPhone on a plane is to check with the airline before your flight. However, remember that you must have airplane mode on no matter what.
Are There Any Rules for Packing AirPods?
The TSA can be sticklers (often for a good reason) about what can be in your checked or carry-on bags.
Luckily, the TSA does not heavily restrict AirPods and other headphones as long as you use them on airplane mode for the entire flight. So, you can have them in your carry-on bag or checked baggage as your needs dictate.
Normally, however, you should shut off any electronics when not in use. But, since you can’t fully turn off AirPods, storing them in the charging case works fine.
You also do not need to take them out when you make your way through security. Since AirPods and their case are so small, you do not need to take them out like you would a tablet.
The general cutoff size is the average size of a phone. Smaller than that, and you’re fine.
The Federal Aviation Administration allows you to use Bluetooth headphones and other short-range Bluetooth accessories on a plane as long as you connect them to a phone in airplane mode. So, if you want to take that new pair of AirPods on your next flight instead of the old wired headphones, know that you can totally use them on your devices.