Can You Use Bluetooth Headphones on a Plane?

Bluetooth Headphones on a Flight

Aeroplane Flying at Dusk - Bluetooth Headphones

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;-

Quantas say ‘No’

Ryanair say ‘yes’

British Airways says ‘yes’

Emirates Say ‘Yes’

Virgin Atlantic says ‘Yes’

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;-

Easyjet Screenshot Bluetooth Headphones

That suggests that the item should be in ‘flight safe’ mode. A quick check on Wikipedia  shows that this means

Wikipedia Screenshot Bluetooth Headphones Flight Mode

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?

So 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.

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2 comments

  1. I’ve just flown to thre US with Aer Lingus and their policy is that everything is in flight safe mode for take offf and landing; headphones etc need to be removed for safety purposes.
    There is no problem with Bluetooth once in the air.
    They also offer WiFi on long haul; at a cost ( free in business class) so it’s another way of making money for them.
    It seems the rules started to be relaxed a few years ago; but there’s no common policy

    1. Hi Kevin,

      A bit hard to find but this (from 2016) says that electronics must be used in flight mode (page 18)

      https://www.aerlingus.com/media/pdfs/VisualGuide_OnBoard.pdf

      which suggests that you shouldn’t use BT Headphones. However I do see that they are offering Wifi onboard so how can an item be in ‘flight mode’ and still use wifi?

      I think airlines have realised that people still use electronics on flights, rarely do they put them in ‘flight mode’ and so far, I don’t think any planes have crashed due to a mobile phone being left on.

      There is part of me thinking whether the ‘aeroplane mode/flight mode’ requirement on flights might be avaiation and not airline specific but I’d need to do some more investigating to check this for sure.

      Thanks,

      The Reverend

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