AirPods are the world’s most popular wireless headphones, so many travelers out there inevitably want to know if they can use them on a plane.
Yes, you can use AirPods on a plane, but there are rules concerning when you can use them during a flight, and whether they will work with the in-flight entertainment system or not.
Fortunately, there is a workaround.
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AirPods Airline Policies
AirPods are classified as personal electronic devices (PEDs).
In 2013, the FAA published a report that stated that PEDs can be used without interfering with an aircraft’s operation, and advised airlines to relax the rules concerning PEDs and short-range Bluetooth accessories during a flight.
In the U.S., all major air carriers allow passengers to use PEDs like AirPods during a flight.
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Hawaiian Airlines
However, whether you can use AirPods throughout the entire duration of the flight, including during takeoff and landing, varies by airline.
- Alaska Airlines: AirPods can be used throughout the duration of the entire flight.
- Allegiant Airlines: AirPods can be used, but not during takeoff and landing.
- American Airlines: AirPods are allowed, but not during takeoff and landing.
- Delta: AirPods are allowed, but not during takeoff and landing.
- JetBlue: AirPods can be used throughout the duration of the entire flight.
- Southwest: AirPods are allowed, but not during takeoff and landing.
- Spirit Airlines: AirPods can be used throughout the duration of the entire flight.
- United Airlines: AirPods can be used throughout the duration of the entire flight
Domestic vs. International Flights
- FAA: The FAA, which regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the USA, have approved the use of Bluetooth devices on planes since 2013.
- IATA: The IATA (International Air Transport Association), which consists of 290 airlines in over 115 countries, does not allow Bluetooth usage during takeoff and landing.
- TCCA: The TCCA (Transport Canada Civil Aviation) state that you should check with the airline to see if Bluetooth is allowed on a plane when flying.
Using AirPods In Airplane Mode
Fortunately, you can manually enable Bluetooth on your device, which will then allow your AirPods to work.
How to Use Airpods With the In-Flight Entertainment System
It is unlikely that you will be able to use your AirPods with the in-flight entertainment system on your next flight without a workaround.
This is because very few airlines have equipped their aircraft with Bluetooth support, with just United in the U.S. on selected flights having the technology to do so.
Fortunately, you can buy an airline Bluetooth adapter that will allow you to connect your AirPods.
AirPods users have found that the AirFly Pro is the most reliable option with its 16-hour battery life, making it perfect for long-haul, international flights.
Why Some Airlines Won’t Allow You to Use AirPods During Takeoff and Landing
Some airlines won’t let you use Bluetooth devices during takeoff and landing due to safety concerns.
There is a concern that Bluetooth devices may cause interference on radio frequencies used for communication between airplanes and control towers.
Airlines would also prefer it if you listened to the onboard announcements by the pilot and cabin crew, which isn’t going to happen if you have AirPods in your ear.
You Can Also Use Other Bluetooth Devices & Accessories
Besides AirPods, you can also use other Bluetooth devices and accessories on a plane.
- Headphones: You are allowed to use Bluetooth headphones on a plane.
- Phones: You are allowed to use your phone’s Bluetooth on a plane, but cellular data should be switched off.
- Laptops: You can bring a laptop on a plane and use its Bluetooth, but your laptop should be in airplane mode.
- Mouse/Keyboard: You are allowed to use Bluetooth mice and keyboards on a plane.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).