Bluetooth Headphones on a Flight
There has been a few queries over whether Bluetooth (BT) headphones are able to be used while you are on a plane. I know I’ve traveled and used them loads of times on planes however it is possible that this could be against the law! I recently saw this article on-line and thought it would be good to get some clarity.
What are Bluetooth headphones?
Bluetooth headphones are headphones that don’t use wires to connect to the device that is the source of the audio. They come in styles that match their wired counterparts and usually have a charging wire/battery pack that ensure that they can be re-charged when needed.
Most Headphones manufactures make Bluetooth versions of their headphones. Apple have the Airpods, Beats have their inner ear and over-ear versions and there are plenty of other BT Headphones options out there.
Benefits of Bluetooth Headphones
A benefit of BT Headphones is as simple as not having wires around you. If you commute then you may have experienced your wires being caught as you put your bag down or even as other passengers go past you, they catch the wire and the headphones get yanked out of your ears. If you are in the gym you can listen to your music no matter where your phone/tablet/etc is.
Another benefit is that phone wire and plugs can take quite a beating during normal use. When I had non-bluetooth headphones I would wrap the wire around the device and tuck the earphones in. This kept all the wire tidy but is not good for the wire. It also can put extra strain on the heaphone jack and affect the connectors inside the phone. I’ve had a number of phones where the first item to break on them has been the headphone socket! Bluetooth headphones get round this problem by removing the wire and the headphone jack.
Can you use Bluetooth headphones on a flight?
The answer to this is yes, there is no reason Bluetooth headphones wont work on a plane. The real question is, Should you use them?
Unhelpfully airlines have confused the matter further when people have asked about this online.
Easyjet say yes;-
— easyJet (@easyJet) June 13, 2014
Quantas say ‘No’
@rjhopwood Hi Richard. Bluetooth is currently unable to be used onboard as devices must remain in Flight Mode. Pearl
— Qantas (@Qantas) 1 May 2016
Ryanair say ‘yes’
Hi Rigs, yes cabin crew will advise when these will be allowed to use. EA
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) 16 September 2017
British Airways says ‘yes’
Hi there, Bluetooth devices e.g. wireless keyboards or headphones, can be used during the flight but must be switched off for taxi, take-off and landing. Hope this helps. ^JulieR
— British Airways (@British_Airways) 13 June 2018
Emirates Say ‘Yes’
Hi, yes, you can use them. You’ll just need to switch it off during take-off and landing.
— Emirates Support (@EmiratesSupport) 13 June 2018
Virgin Atlantic says ‘Yes’
You can indeed use them. ^J
— Virgin Atlantic (@VirginAtlantic) 13 June 2018
There is a lot of mentions of ‘flight mode’/’airplane mode’ but what does this mean?
Flight Mode/Airplane mod
The problem is that the link states the following;-
That suggests that the item should be in ‘flight safe’ mode. A quick check on Wikipedia shows that this means
So if the phone/tablet is in ‘flight safe’ mode then the headphones wont connect to them and so its impossible to use them on a flight, if you are sticking by the rules.
What Should You Do About Bluetooth Headphones?
two five airlines have said ‘yes’ but I think they don’t really understand the question. As I said earlier in the post, I have used Bluetooth Headphones on flights and there has been no issue. I’m usually told to remove them for the safety announcement but otherwise no-one questions them.
YMMV but if you have Bluetooth headphones and want to use them on a flight then give it a go. Just make sure you have a back-up pair of wired headphones in case you are asked to remove them.
I have approached British Airways, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic to see what they say on the matter. This post will be updated when I hear back from them.
Blog Post updated above with responses from BA/Emirates/Virgin Atlantic.