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Can You Use Wireless Bluetooth Headphones on a Plane?

Last updated: 5 months ago
8 min read

What are the explicit rules about Bluetooth on a plane? Can you use it?

In short, yes. But there are conditions.

We’ve researched the Bluetooth policy of all the major Airlines (and created a table with the rules).

Learn when you can (and can’t) use Bluetooth headphones and other wireless devices on a plane.

Flying with headphones


  • According to the FAA, low-powered wireless devices with radiation strength below 100mW don’t interfere with aircraft systems.
  • Consumer-grade Bluetooth devices radiate at around 2.5mW, which makes them technically safe for plane use.
  • Most airlines allow the use of Bluetooth headphones, but only a few allow you to use them throughout all flight stages (taxiing, takeoff, and landing).
  • You can find whether an airline allows Bluetooth devices onboard by simply googling their name and adding “Bluetooth headphones”.
  • So far, only a few airlines allow you to pair Bluetooth headphones with their in-flight entertainment. Furthermore, most airlines only give this option to first-class passengers.
  • Best wireless Bluetooth headphones for air travel should be comfortable, have long battery life, robust Bluetooth connectivity, and have good active noise cancellation (or at least good passive noise isolation).
CONTENTS (show more)

    Airline Rules for Bluetooth Use on Planes

    Bluetooth devices emit lower power radiation, which doesn’t interfere with aircraft systems, according to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) guidelines from 2017.

    The official radiation power limit is 100mW, while Bluetooth devices radiate around 2.5mW. That puts them way down in the “safe” zone.

    FAA advisory circular
    Article 10.3.2 explains wireless devices working at 2.4GHz below 100mW of power don’t interfere with aircraft systems.

    Whether or not personal wireless devices interfere with airplane systems is debatable. While the first generation of mobile devices (and even CD players) indeed caused some minor issues, modern ones don’t.

    In 2013, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) even proposed to unban cellphone use during flights.

    In the end, the ban stayed. But not due to wireless communication concerns but to prevent passengers from bothering others with loud phone calls. That’s why you still need to activate the Airplane Mode during flights.

    airplane in the sky
    Bluetooth wireless headphones don’t interfere with aircraft systems, yet airlines still only allow them under specific conditions.

    Enabling Airplane Mode is also recommended to save battery (your phone will constantly try to connect to a different cell tower) and prevent your smartphone from using cellular data over countries not covered in your subscription plan.

    Fortunately, Bluetooth falls into a low-power category. That said, some airlines are still restricting the use of wireless devices, Bluetooth included, during specific parts of the flight. More on that later.

    When Can You Use Bluetooth on a Plane?

    You can use Bluetooth devices (headphones included) during the flight but not during takeoff, landing, and taxiing. At least not always.

    Allowed during flight, but…

    Bluetooth headphones are generally allowed during flights by most commercial airlines. Learn more about which airline does or doesn’t allow Bluetooth headphones.

    However, you have to respect orders from the flight crew if they say so. Also, you:

    • Shouldn’t use headphones during safety briefing.
    • Must be aware that listening to your music (not using in-flight entertainment) could mean missing important emergency messages from flight attendants.
    • You can’t blast the volume so loud to bother other passengers.

    Furthermore, you can use Bluetooth headphones with your transmitting device (phone, laptop), but the latter must be in Airplane Mode. Once in Airplane Mode, you can enable Bluetooth separately.

    Airplane mode with Bluetooth
    Bluetooth works even during Airplane mode, but you must enable it after enabling airplane mode.

    Not allowed during takeoff and landing

    On the other hand, most airlines prohibit the use of any portable wireless devices during:

    • Taxiing (when an airplane is on the ground, driving towards the airway) 
    • Takeoff (when an airplane takes off the airway and it is gaining altitude)
    • Landing (when an airplane is reducing altitude to land on an airway)

    During these 3 steps, the aircraft constantly communicates with the tower to avoid accidents and ensure everything runs smoothly. Any connection interference could ground the airplane, which means a delay.

    As a passenger, you definitely don’t want that, so you should always respect and obey the airline’s policies.

    Which Airlines Allow Bluetooth Use?

    Based on our research, all the big, well-known airlines allow Bluetooth headphones and other personal electronic devices on their flights.

    But not always. The difference is when airlines allow to use the headphones. Here’s a more detailed table:

    AirlineDuring flightDuring all stages
    (taxiing, takeoff,
    flight, landing)
    Air CanadaYes
    (plane needs
    to have Wi-Fi
    support and
    needs to be
    above 10,000
    Air FranceYesn/a
    British AirwaysYesNo
    Delta Air LinesYesNo
    United AirlinesYesNo
    Qatar AirwaysYesYes
    Virgin AtlanticYesNo
    Wizz AirYesNo

    List of airlines that do not allow Bluetooth use

    Fortunately, almost all airlines allow Bluetooth headphones on board their planes. Only Air Canada has some bizarre restrictions about using Bluetooth headsets when the plane is 10,000 feet in the air.

    As mentioned above, there’s a fear that excessive use of wireless devices might interfere with airplane systems, like communication interference, inaccurate sensor readings, and so on.

    While modern airplanes are sufficiently shielded against electromagnetic interference from portable devices, airlines still take precautions to avoid accidents.

    How to find this information before your flight?

    You can find information about airline Bluetooth headphone restrictions by simply searching it online. The easiest way is to:

    1. Type “ Bluetooth headphones” and start searching.
    2. Try checking the official website first to get the most up-to-date information.
    3. If the official website doesn’t have a specific Bluetooth headphones or headset rule, search for their posts, usually on X (previously known as Twitter).
    4. Otherwise, check third-party websites (at least a few) for answers. Make sure they recently updated their websites.
    Lufthansa twitter X
    Lufthansa posted their Bluetooth headphones policy on X (previously known as Twitter).

    How to Connect Your Bluetooth Headphones to Your In-Flight Entertainment System?

    Airlines are starting to modernize, with more and more providing the option to connect to their in-flight entertainment system with Bluetooth headphones.

    This is how you pair your Bluetooth headphones with the infotainment system:

    1. Find the Bluetooth icon on the infotainment screen (usually somewhere in the corner). Click on it.
    2. Once clicked, it should start searching for your headphones.
    3. Make sure to put your headphones in pairing mode. For headphones, you hold the power button until they turn on, and a small LED starts blinking (or a voice prompt saying “pairing”). For earbuds, you put them in the charging case and hold the physical button located somewhere on the case.
    4. When your headphones appear on the infotainment screen, click on them.
    5. You should get a visual confirmation that your headphones are connected (or you hear audible feedback from your Bluetooth headset).
    Bluetooth pairing on the Safran RAVE Ultra inflight entertainment system

    Here’s a list of airlines that support connecting your Bluetooth headphones to in-flight entertainment:

    AirlineAble to pair Bluetooth
    headphones with the
    in-flight entertainment
    Who can
    use it?
    DeltaOnly on some airplanesOnly first
    Air FranceOnly on some airplanesn/a
    American AirlinesOnly on some airplanesAll classes
    EmiratesOnly on some airplanesAll classes
    LufthansaOnly on some airplanesn/a
    Qatar AirwaysOnly on some airplanesBusiness &
    Only on some airplanesOnly first
    United AirlinesOnly on some airplanesn/a

    Remember that airlines have only started to implement this feature in recent years. And many airlines offer the Bluetooth connectivity on specific airplanes/passenger classes.

    CB3 Hush headphones airplane
    Many older airplanes don’t support Bluetooth connectivity, only wired connection.

    Nonetheless, the majority still support:

    • Wired connection with or without the airplane adapter

    That’s why you should always carry an AUX cable and an airplane adapter (since many airplanes don’t support a single 3-pole 3.5mm audio jack and instead use two 2-pole 3.5mm jacks).

    Airplane adapter with headphones
    A few modern Bluetooth headphones still offer airplane adapters like the one in the image (actually a part of 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear monitors).

    Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones for Air Travel

    The best wireless Bluetooth headphones for air travel are comfortable, have long battery life, and can cancel (have active noise cancellation) or at least reduce cabin noise (with passive isolation). Let’s get more specific.


    Air travel means flying over longer distances. So, you need headphones that stay comfortable after many hours into the flight.

    • Over-ear headphones are the comfiest: Over-ear fit offers longer-lasting comfort than on-ear fit since it doesn’t squeeze your earlobes and cause pain.
    • Earbuds: If you have to go with earbuds, make sure the housing doesn’t press against your earlobes, which can result in pain. Picking comfortably fitting earbuds is especially crucial if you wear a mask. The mask’s elastic pushes the earlobe into the earbud, creating a painful pressure point.

    Check our extensive guides on headphones and earbuds with the most luxurious fit:

    Sleeping with headphones
    Flights can be long, so comfort is of great importance for Bluetooth headphones.

    Active noise cancellation

    Active noise cancelling removes the engine and cabin noise, as well as loud neighbors. It’s a useful feature if you want a more pleasing flight. The neighbors can be very loud.

    Flying at 460-575 miles per hour creates a lot of air drag, which you hear as cabin noise. Loudness during cruising can reach up to 84 dBA (although, in most cases, it spans between 70 and 80 dBA).

    Still, at constant loudness of 75dBA, the hearing damage occurs after 8 hours, while it takes only 2 hours at 85dBA. So, take precautions when going on a long flight.

    noise cancelling headphones in an airplane
    Noise-cancelling headphones are very popular for air travel.

    There’s another point worth noting. Using ANC headphones onboard protects your hearing and also blocks distractions, like loud kids in nearby seats.

    Active noise cancelling performance isn’t necessarily better on specific types of headphones. The ANC algorithm’s quality and passive isolation level determine their performance.

    Based on our real-world tests and objective ANC measurements, check:

    Battery life

    While modern airplanes offer charging ports for your wireless devices, you can’t always rely on it. You should make sure your Bluetooth headphones have enough battery to last through the flight.

    • Headphones have the longest battery: Most modern Bluetooth headphones last up to 30 hours with ANC enabled, and up to 10 hours more with the ANC off.
    • Earbuds need charging: Average Bluetooth earbuds last up to 7 hours on a single charge with ANC enabled, and up to 1-2 hours more with ANC off.

    So, on a long 10-hour+ flight, you have to charge them inside the charging case if you want to use them through the whole flight.

    Headphones with great ANC performance and the longest battery lives in our tests are:

    Sony WH-1000XM5 on the stairs
    Sony WH-1000XM5 have 40.5 hours of battery life, which is more than half as much as the longest flight in the world (16 hours and 20 minutes).

    Earbuds with great ANC performance and the longest battery lives in our tests are:

    Google Pixel Buds Pro inside ears
    Google Pixel Buds Pro can last around 8 hours per charge, which is enough to endure most flights.

    Some flights can be very long. According to Cabin Zero, among the 15 longest flights, the shortest one that connects Dubai with Los Angeles lasts 16 hours and 20 minutes. Qantas Airways plans to connect Sydney with London with a 20-hour flight.

    Noise isolation

    Based on our testing, ANC is usually only effective at lower and midrange frequencies, whereas passive noise isolation handles the higher ones. This means that good isolation contributes to a more enjoyable travel experience.

    However, you must also hear important messages from flight attendants for safety reasons. Therefore, completely shutting yourself from the outside world is probably not the best idea.

    We advise you to pick good noise-isolating headphones only if they lack active noise cancellation.

    • Bluetooth headphones are slightly better than earbuds in passive noise isolation, especially with leather earpads.
    • Bluetooth earbuds are better than headphones only with foam ear tips or a deeper ear canal fit (like Jabra Elite 7 Pro). There are no double or triple-flanged ear tips for wireless earbuds, which would offer the best passive isolation.
    Jabra Elite 7 Pro microphones
    Jabra Elite 7 Pro have a longer nozzle and deeper insertion, contributing to better passive noise isolation.


    More and more people onboard will start using Bluetooth headphones in the future. However, multiple Bluetooth connections in a small room can lead to connection interferences (frequent audio stutters).

    You should look for headphones with the latest Bluetooth version (at least Bluetooth 5.2 or newer). Newer versions have better wireless connectivity protocols to avoid interruptions.

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Do wireless Bluetooth headphones work in Airplane Mode?

    Yes, wireless Bluetooth headphones work in Airplane Mode. On your transmitting device of choice, you first activate the Airplane Mode and then enable Bluetooth connectivity.

    Do Bluetooth earbuds work on a plane?

    Yes, Bluetooth earbuds work on a plane. You can connect them to your personal device or an in-flight entertainment system (if it supports Bluetooth connection).

    Can you use Bluetooth AirPods on a plane?

    Yes, you can use Bluetooth AirPods on a plane. Ensure to follow airlines’ guidelines on when you’re allowed to use them (in most cases, you shouldn’t use them during taxi, takeoff, and landing).

    What are the alternatives to Bluetooth headphones on a plane?

    Alternatives to Bluetooth headphones on a plane are wired headphones or earplugs. If you forget to bring your headphones, some airlines can provide their own.


    Restrictions surrounding wireless devices onboard have loosened over the last decade. Now, almost all major airlines allow you to use your personal Bluetooth headphones during a flight.

    That said, it’s important to remember this:

    • Always keep your wireless device (cell phones, laptop) in Airplane Mode and enable Bluetooth separately.
    • Learn when and in what flight stages you’re allowed to use your wireless devices (throughout all stages or only during flight).
    • Respect the flight crew’s instructions and don’t argue with them to avoid getting kicked off the plane or getting fined.

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