Can I Use Bluetooth Headphones On a Plane?

Yes, you can use Bluetooth headphones on most airplanes or flights according to the majority of international and aviation authorities. Previously, most member airlines were not allowing them but it’s changing as many of them now have WIFI services and in-flight entertainment systems.   

You should, however, note that Bluetooth headphones policies differ from airline to airline. While some would require you to turn it off during taxiing, take-off, and landing, others have no restrictions. On the other side, some airlines don’t allow usage on a flight at all. 

Hence, it’s better to check with the airline and its regulatory body on their stand on using personal electronic devices like Bluetooth headphones. This will put you on a better side and save you from any embarrassment. I know how it feels like to carry along your newly bought Bluetooth headphones only to be told that you can’t use them on the plane. It will mess up the whole of your flight.  

To avoid that, I’ll be sharing with you some simple tips that I gathered in my research in a moment. I’ve also compiled a list of popular airlines and their position on Bluetooth headphones usage in flight. 

Tips To Verify Bluetooth Headphones Usage on a Plane

Check the Airline Regulatory Body

Every airline falls under a regulatory body that manages them within different regions. Each of them has its own set of rules that govern international flights and sometimes has slightly varying security recommendations. 

Regulators such as IATA, FAA, and TCCA, just to name a few, have varying views on Bluetooth headphones usage and in which phase of the flight to use them. So you can check out their websites to have a fair idea. 

Visit the Website of the Airline for Confirmation

Regulators of these airlines may approve the use of Bluetooth headphones but the airlines may have their own policies which restrict their usage. Usually, short-range Bluetooth devices like headphones, keyboards, mouse are allowed but are at different flight phases. 

So you can head over to the airline’s website and enquire about their support and I’m sure they’ll respond. You can as well ask on their social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter if they have one. 

What if you boarded the flight without prior inquiry? That brings me to the next tip. 

Check the Airline Magazine When on Board

You’ll find most airline magazines once you board the plane. It’s one of the ways they advertise their service to you as well as educate you about security measures. You’ll sometimes find their policies on Bluetooth headphones usage or personal electronic device usage somewhere. 

In the worst case, kindly call one of the flight attendants to ask before launching your Bluetooth headphone. 

Take Note of Flight Phase Rules

There are about eight flight phases that you need to be aware of. The official global rule is that passengers switch their electronic devices into airplane mode to avoid communication interruptions of the plane operators. 

flight phases for airplane
Source: https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/ped/media/PED_ARC_FINAL_REPORT.pdf

Similarly, some airlines may allow Bluetooth headphones but you’re advised to turn them off at certain phases of the flight. For example, IATA doesn’t allow using Bluetooth headphones in critical moments like takeoffs and landings. 

Now that you have a few tips at hand, let’s look at what some of these airline regulators say about Bluetooth headphones 

What Airline Regulatory Agencies Say About Bluetooth Headphones Usage on Flights?

Bluetooth headphones like any other personal electronic devices such as calculators, cameras, radio receivers, mobile phones, audio and video players, electronic games, and toys have been a concern on the tables of regulatory agencies for decades. 

Evaluations from the various international and national aviation authorities have come with provisions for their member states which is worth noting. 

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

It’s a United Nations (UN) specialized regulatory body of about 193 member states which is bent on ensuring the safety and security of civil aviation. ICAO is the biggest umbrella for all other regulatory bodies. 

Due to the non-uniformities of member state evaluation concerning personal electronic devices, ICAO has no concrete provision for the use of Bluetooth headphones on planes. This means that you have to refer to its sub-regulatory agencies or airlines for clarification.  

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

A world trade association that supports about 290 airlines with global standards, safety, and security measures hasn’t mentioned the use of Bluetooth headphones on planes. 

However, it has provided guidelines for the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) which includes Bluetooth headphones. The guide explicitly states the number of PEDs with lithium batteries you can carry and how to handle them.

Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA)

AAPA comprises about 16 membership airlines based in the Asia-pacific region. In a cabin safety seminar held in Singapore in November, they stated in their airline policy that all PEDs which include Bluetooth headphones are required to be turned off and stowed during pre-departure and at top of descent announcements. 

However, you can use your PEDs not limited to Bluetooth headphones at approximately 1000ft in the air with the exception of mobile phones.  

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 

In July 2013, FAA published a regulation regarding issues with the use of PEDs including Bluetooth Headphones by passengers. The committee that came with this regulation consisted of representatives from different aviation units. 

From the committee report, the current FAA regulation prohibits the use of PEDs during flights except its safety is determined by aircraft operators. But it allows broad use of non-transmittable devices like calculators, cameras, radio receivers, headphones, audio and video players, electronic games, and toys during non-critical phases of the flights. 

FAA which is responsible for US airlines also gives the mandate to aircraft operators to determine the usage of PEDs with its recommendations at the phases of flight if it possesses no threats to navigation or communication. 

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)

Following the study by FAA, EASA which is an agency for the European Union civil aviation safety has also made provisions for European airlines. It allows PEDs including Bluetooth headphones for almost the whole flight duration.

These PEDs include transmitting and non-transmitting devices provided their interference is verified as harmless by the operators. You can find the FAQs relating to when you’ll be allowed or not here.

You should however note that the recommendations or provisions made by these regulatory agencies are not mandatory to be carried out by their member airlines. The final decision is dependent on the airline’s regulations depending on the security issues they have at hand. 

I’ve therefore done the heavy lifting by putting together a list of the world’s best and most popular airlines in the next session for you.

What World Best and Popular Airlines Say About Bluetooth Headphones on Flights?

Despite the provisions made by the regulatory bodies, you’ll find different policies regarding the use of Bluetooth headphones for airlines. Here are a few of them to help you out. 

AirlineApproved PEDs (Bluetooth Headphones)The phase of Flight Allowed
Qatar airlineMobile phones with flight mode capability, Laptop/notebook computers, Tablet computers, E-readers, Noise-cancelling headphones, Digital Audio / MP3 Players, Portable DVD / CD Players, Bluetooth-enabled devices, Electric shavers, Personal digital cameras, Electronic games, Assistive medical devicesAll Phases
Singapore AirlinesNot categorically statedExcept for taxiing, take-offs, and other critical moments.
ANA All Nippon AirwaysPermits connection between Bluetooth devices including Bluetooth headphones only on aircraft equipped with WIFI. All the time except the crew announces otherwise. 
Cathay Pacific AirwaysSmartphones and mobile phones, Tablets, eBooks, Electronic games

 

Music players, Digital cameras, Camcorders, Calculators, Electric shavers, Breast pumps, Digital thermometers

Medical devices

All phases but Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled devices should be switched off or set to flight mode.
EmiratesMobile phones

 

Tablets, for example, iPads and Kindles

E-readers

Electronic games, for example, Nintendo DS

Bluetooth devices, eg. Bluetooth headphone

Only turned on flight mode for taxi, takeoff, approach, and landing. 
EVA AirAllows the use of Bluetooth devices but doesn’t provide the breakdown of items.All phases
Hainan AirlinesSome portable electronic devices including Bluetooth headphones are allowed. You’re required to disconnect during taxi, take-off, and landing. 
Qantas AirwaysBluetooth devices including headphones can be used at all times onboard Airbus 330, Airbus 380, Boeing 787, Boeing 737, and QantasLink aircraft. Bluetooth must be switched off during taxi, takeoff, and landing. 
LufthansaBluetooth headphones and other devices are allowed.  It’s allowed during the entire flight without restriction – even during take-off and landing unless the crew instructs otherwise.
Air FranceBluetooth-controlled electronic devices (headphones, watches, etc.) are permitted onboard.No exceptions are given
British AirwaysYou can use noise-canceling headphones and Bluetooth devices, e.g. wireless keyboards or headphones during the flight. It must be switched off during taxiing, take-off, and landing.
Air CanadaAllows the use of Bluetooth headphones only on their WIFI-enabled aircraft. You can’t use it during safety demos, planned emergencies, and when the flight has reached 10,000 ft. 
American AirlinesPermits the use of cell phones, laptops, and electronic devices including Bluetooth headphones. All phases unless cautioned by the crew. 
Delta Air LinesRecently announce to advance its inflight entertainment systems to use Bluetooth headphones. No explicit information is provided on any restrictions. 
Southwest AirlinesAll types of headphones including Bluetooth headphones are allowed into their plane even for their inflight entertainment. Not explicitly stated. 
United AirlinesSupports the use of Bluetooth headphones on flights. Crew informs you when and when not to use it. 

Can Bluetooth Headphones Work with Phones or Tablets in Airplane Mode?

Yes, Bluetooth headphones do work with phones or tablets in airplane mode. However, some devices automatically turn off Bluetooth when you activate airplane mode. They’re made so because Bluetooth is considered a transmittable signal. 

This is why a lot of people perceive that Bluetooth doesn’t work in “Airplane mode”. Depending on the type of device you’re using, switching into airplane mode may have a varying effect on your Bluetooth mode.  

For Android devices like Samsung, turning on airplane mode automatically switches off your Bluetooth. You can get the Bluetooth on by enabling it in the settings and you can use your tablet or phone with your Bluetooth headphones normally. 

For iOS devices, switching into airplane mode may or may not deactivate your Bluetooth. Whichever situation you get, you can still turn on the Bluetooth of your device in the settings to connect with your Bluetooth headphones. 

Can Phones or Tablets Access WiFi in Airplane Mode on Flights?

Yes, you can access WiFi with your phone or tablet even in airplane mode just like Bluetooth. WiFi is also regarded as a transmittable signal so it turns off automatically in airplane mode. 

You can turn it on like Bluetooth to connect to stream online if the airline has WiFi. However, you need to be sure about the airline’s policies to know at what phase of the flight to use it. 

If you have the green light to use then you can enjoy your journey all day long with your Bluetooth headphone connected to watch your favorite movies. 

How To Connect Bluetooth Headphones On In-flight Entertainment Systems With No Bluetooth Support

Have you boarded an airline with your favorite Bluetooth headphones only to realize you can’t connect to their in-flight entertainment system before? This experience is very sour if your flight is long…you’ll wish you had reached your destination. 

Because you’ll be stuck with the airline’s low-quality headphones – usually a two-pin AUX input. But there’s a way around it. 

You can take along with you TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter and Receiver or Twelve South AirFly Wireless Transmitter as a backup. This device helps you to connect your Bluetooth headphones to the in-flight entertainment system. 

And the best part is you can connect multiple headphones to the transmitter. 

In some airlines, for example, American Airlines, you may not need these devices to use your Bluetooth headphones. They have apps that you can download with their WiFi to connect your Bluetooth headphones. 

Unfortunately, most airlines don’t have these apps so you may want to be fully prepared with the needed accessories if you want to enjoy your favorite Bluetooth headphones on flights. 

Final Thoughts

You can use Bluetooth headphones on airlines provided it doesn’t interfere with flight operator communications. With technological advancement, most regulatory bodies are recommending it to their members but it will take a while for it to be implemented globally.  

It’s therefore imperative to do your background check on the airline you’re taking to be sure of their standing with Bluetooth headphones usage on flights. You should also take note of the restrictions they have for flight phases if any. 

I hope this article has served you well. Enjoy your flight! Kindly share your experience if you have any in the comment below to help others. Thanks 

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