AirPods are great earbuds, but do they work on a flight?
Wondering do AirPods work on a plane? It’s something a lot of people wonder about. Apple’s AirPods are some of the most popular earbuds in the world. You can find people using them everywhere: on a walk, in the gym, and on public transport.
Provided you have a device the AirPods can connect to (like your iPhone), you then need two other things to make sure the AirPods can work: battery power and wireless connectivity. And these two things are necessary no matter if you are on a plane or on the sidewalk.
But we’ll look at things from the viewpoint that you are on a plane.
AirPods, Planes & Battery Life
If you are on a plane journey and want to use your AirPods en route, you’ll want to make sure they have a full charge. This is because AirPods only get 4-5 hours of battery life per full charge. If you’re on a short flight (3-4 hours), you shouldn’t even need to recharge your AirPods provided they were fully charged when you took them out of the case.
But if you are on a long flight (5 hours or more) it’s likely your AirPods won’t get through the full flight. In that case, you’ll need to place them back in the recharging case to give them a quick recharge. Of course, the important thing here is to remember to make sure your AirPods’ charging case has a full charge too.
And don’t worry about long charging times. Most AirPods can be charged up to three hours of use for just 15 minuted charge time. This means you can quickly charge your AirPods in the charging case even when you are on a flight.
AirPods, Planes & Wireless Connectivity
Of course, you’ll also need wireless connectivity to use AirPods on the plane. However, this does NOT mean an internet connection. As long as your iPhone and your AirPods are working as normal, they’ll have all the hardware needed to connect wirelessly to each other.
This means you shouldn’t have any problem using your AirPods on the plane. And as most aviation regulators allow wireless connectivity like Bluetooth onboard planes, you’ll have no problem using them safely.
AirPods, Planes & In-flight Entertainment
The one drawback of AirPods (or any wireless-only headphones) is that you can’t use them with in-flight entertainment systems. These entertainment systems are the seat-back displays that allow you to browse all the movies and shows on offer during the flight.
To take advantage of the audio from these in-flight entertainment systems, you’ll need to plug a wired pair of headphones into the audio jack (usually located on your armrest). As AirPods have no wired connectivity option, they can’t communicate with the in-flight entertainment system.
Well, they can’t without an optional accessory. And that’s where Twelve South AirFly accessory comes in. The accessory is a dongle that gets plugged into an audio jack (like the one in-flight entertainment systems use. That dongle has a built-in Bluetooth transmitter, which means your AirPods can connect to it.
Once your AirPods are connected to the Twelve South AirFly, the AirPods can then pick up the audio coming from the flight’s in-flight entertainment system. The Twelve South AirFly comes in various options and pricing starts at $44.99 as of the time of this writing.
If you fly a lot (which admittedly has been hard during the pandemic) and you love your AirPods, a Twelve South AirFly might be the perfect accessory for you.
Do AirPods Work On A Plane?
Yes, you can use AirPods on the plane. They’ll connect to your iPhone wirelessly on the plane just like they would if you were on the ground. However, AirPods can’t interface with a plane’s in-flight entertainment system. For that you’ll need an accessory, like Twelve South’s AirFly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are AirPods good for flying?
Many people like to use AirPods on the plane. This is especially true of owners of AirPods Pro, which have active noise cancelation.
Q: How do you not lose AirPods on a plane?
That’s a hard one to answer, but the best advice is to keep an eye on them and when they are not in your ears, but them back in their charging case and place the charging case in your pocket or the seatback pouch.
Q: How do you use AirPods Pro on a plane?
They’ll work as normal if you connect them to your iPhone. But if you want to use them with the in-flight entertainment system, you’ll need an accessory like Twelve South’s AirFly.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.