Can You Use Bluetooth on a Plane? Is It Safe to Connect?

Eric Chan

Bluetooth headphones have become popular in the past years and have driven away from the wires that were once connected to our heads. However, as much as they sound brilliant, Bluetooth headphones are incompatible with planes. So, can you use Bluetooth on a plane? Read on.

Are Bluetooth headphones allowed on a plane? You can use Bluetooth headphones on a plane, but the usage restrictions will vary by airline. Most airlines allow users to use Bluetooth headphones on the plane since they are regarded as short-range Bluetooth devices. So, with short-term Bluetooth devices, the aircraft interference is minimal, so they are allowed most of the time.

Why are Airlines Fussy About Bluetooth Headphones?

Wireless interference is the main reason the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) restrict PED usage during flights. However, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows individual airlines to decide how to use portable electronic devices.

Most airlines will allow the usage of devices but will put limitations. For example, you won't be able to use Bluetooth headphones on some Canadian flights, some airlines will allow usage during take-off and landing, and some airlines will ask you to switch them off.

Can I use AirPods on a Plane?

Airpods work similarly to other wireless headphones, applying the same rules. You can use them on most flights, but most likely, you will have to switch your wireless Bluetooth headphones during take-off and landing.

Airpods can work on a plane, and you can comfortably connect to the in-flight entertainment systems if they have been set for Bluetooth access. If not, you will have to buy a separate airplane Bluetooth transmitter or receiver which converts the two-prong audio input of in-flight entertainment systems to Bluetooth connections.

Put a pair of wired earbuds in your bag to use in your flight, and then switch back to high-quality wireless headphones to use once you are back on the ground.

Why Do Airlines Discourage Wearing Bluetooth Headphones During Takeoff and Landing?

Airlines are hesitant to allow headphones during takeoff and landing because you should hear all announcements. In addition, if there is an emergency, you should also hear all the instructions from the flight attendant. The worry is usually about the Bluetooth headset cables obstructing movements if there is an evacuation, so it's not an issue with the Bluetooth devices.

Do Bluetooth Headphones Work with Phones on Airplane Mode?

Bluetooth technology transmits a signal, and it is why some devices usually switch off Bluetooth as soon as you press airplane mode. However, you should switch your Bluetooth back on by clicking the Bluetooth icon again.

For Apple devices, turning the flight mode on doesn't switch off Bluetooth, which used to be a problem, but it was fixed with the introduction of Apple Airpods.

However, for Android devices, airplane mode will switch Bluetooth off, and you can enable it by opening your phone settings and switching your Bluetooth on. Then, switch the grayed-out Bluetooth to blue, enabling Bluetooth even with the airplane mode.

However, airplane mode is outdated nowadays because most airlines and airplanes are equipped with in-flight WiFi.

Will Bluetooth Headphones Work with the Airline's Entertainment System?

For long flights, airlines usually offer in-flight entertainment systems where you can watch the latest movies through a built-in screen in your front seat.

Unfortunately, the built-in entertainment systems are sometimes outdated, and you may struggle to connect them to your Bluetooth headphones. In addition, most of these systems still use the two-pin AUX input, meaning you will have to use the headphones provided by the airline.

However, this problem has a hack. If you buy a Bluetooth transmitter or receiver, you could connect wireless headphones to airplane entertainment systems that use the two-pin input. Plug in the two-pin end to your inflight entertainment system and connect your Bluetooth headphones to the device, and your headphones will be connected.

Can You Use Noise-Canceling Headphones on a Plane?

You can use noise-canceling headphones on a plane, but the noise-canceling headphones' size matters. Unfortunately, when folded on most flights, you cannot have a larger Bluetooth device than a smartphone's size.

However, since some of the best Bluetooth headphones use lithium batteries, you should beware of the battery restrictions. Also, remember some restrictions on the types of batteries you can carry in your carry-on bag.

You can't carry more than 100-watt hour lithium-ion batteries in your carry-on bag, and also, some batteries are prohibited. In addition, for specific restrictions, you should check out the Transportation Security Administration or the airline's website.

Can you Charge Bluetooth Headphones During a Flight?

Most of the older aircraft and budget airlines don't feature charging outlets that you can use to charge your Bluetooth headphones. However, some airlines have USB ports to charge their devices. You can reach out to airlines individually to know if they offer charging outlets or USB ports.

What Do Different Airline Regulators Say About Using Bluetooth Headphones?

Airline regulators cover different regions, and this is why it's important to understand all the rules when you intend to take international airlines. For example, a flight to China will allow passengers to use Bluetooth headphones for most of the flight.

However, you will need to switch the Bluetooth devices when you enter China, where Bluetooth devices are not allowed on planes. Therefore, it is important to ensure you know what to expect on your flights.

1. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) controls the US airspace, which means that all the following rules apply to all the flights operating within the US. However, in 2013, FAA had some positive changes about electronic device use during flights.

Short-range Bluetooth accessories and devices like wireless keyboards or Bluetooth headphones can be used on the entire flight, including during takeoff and landing. The only restricted electronic devices are the ones with cellular connections such as laptops, mobile phones and smartwatches.

They must all be in airplane mode at all times, including the takeoff and landing time to reduce interference with aircraft communication systems.

2. IATA (International Air Transport Association)

IATA, which governs the rest of the world, 82% of the total air traffic has not mentioned anything specific about Bluetooth headphones. However, IATA forbids Bluetooth use in the critical stages of the flight, like takeoff and landing.

3. TCCA (Transport Canada Civil Aviation)

Transport Canada states that transmitting electronic devices should not be used on planes, but some are kay to use. However, they haven't mentioned Bluetooth devices meaning the final decision lies with the specific airline. So when flying within Canada, ensure you check with the airline you will be flying with.

4. Air China

Air China states that Bluetooth headphones are permitted in the flight but must be switched off during landing and take-off. In addition, any portable electronic device must be switched to airplane mode, and Bluetooth devices are only allowed in the non-critical stages of the flight.

What Do Top Airlines Say About Bluetooth Headphones On a Plane?

The final decision for using Bluetooth headphones on flights depends on the airplane you are flying with. Even though some airlines won't address their policies, major American airlines are not against allowing their airplane passengers to operate Bluetooth devices throughout a flight.

Below are some popular line rules:

a). Air Canada

Bluetooth headphones are permitted in Air Canada but only when the plane gets to a 10,000 feet height, and also, the battery must be removable. However, the inflight entertainment system doesn't allow Bluetooth connectivity.

b). British Airways

Bluetooth headphones are allowed in the plane, but not during takeoff and landing. In addition, you cant use your wireless headphones with the entertainment system.

c). American Airlines

Bluetooth headphones are allowed in the plane, but they are not allowed during takeoff and landing. Instead, they feature an inflight entertainment system app that you can watch on your tablet or phone with your Bluetooth headsets.

d). Southwest Airlines

Bluetooth headphones are allowed in the entire flight but not during the takeoff and landing. On flights with a WiFi connection, you can use their inflight entertainment systems on your browser. This means you can watch on your Bluetooth headphones, but you will need to pay an extra $8 for internet access during your flight.

e). Delta Air Lines

Bluetooth headphones are allowed in the plane during takeoff and landing. Even though Delta adds Bluetooth support for the inflight entertainment systems, it isn't available on most flights operating, but you can use it only with wired headphones. Delta travelers could use wireless accessories like Bluetooth keyboards to deactivate the cellular data during the flight.

f). Emirates Airlines

Emirates is among the few airlines that offer a Bluetooth connection for inflight entertainment systems on most flights. You can use Bluetooth headphones, but you will be needed to keep the wireless devices away during the safety briefing, take off or landing.

g). United Airlines

Bluetooth headphones are allowed to be used during the whole flight, but more most flights, you can use Bluetooth headphones together with the inflight entertainment systems. However, you can use the plane's app for streaming on some flights, but they are currently upgrading their entertainment systems to offer Bluetooth support.

h). Hawaiian Airlines

Bluetooth headsets are allowed, but they will have to be switched off until the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet altitude. In addition, on the Main Cabin and the Extra Comfort fares, you can use the inflight entertainment app on your tablet or phone.

i). Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines don't mention the use of Bluetooth devices anywhere on their pages online. However, since FAA regulates the airline, you can use Bluetooth headphones, but you may be asked to switch them off during takeoff or landing. Also, the airline doesn't offer entertainment systems.

j). Alaska Airlines

Bluetooth headphones are allowed in the plane, but Alaska's airlines' inflight entertainment systems are not compatible with Bluetooth headphones.

How To Handle Airport Security and Your Headphones on a Plane

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has put specific regulations regarding screening electronic devices. The administration recommends stowing PED in your carry-on bag where you can easily access them during screening.

If you check the bags with your PEDs in them, you will have to pick up a TSA compliant lock, ensuring thieves won't access your belongings. When packing your PEDs in a carry-on bag, you should put anything larger than a smartphone to be screened separately.

If you are lucky enough to participate in the TSA pre-check program, it is worth the cost if you travel a lot. This means you won't unpack your PED and it can slide right through security screening with a lot of ease.


Even though some airlines allow wireless Bluetooth headphones in the plane, you should beware of future changes. This is because airline policies concerning electronics, including Bluetooth devices, change over time as technology changes.

In addition, like with all airline policies, the Bluetooth capability rules in international airlines could change at any time. You could assume that Bluetooth devices are permitted, but to be on the safe side, it's important to ask one of the flight attendants for specific guidance if you are not sure.

Image Credit: felipeberontatt.com

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