You’re all packed and ready to go for your holiday. You’re really looking forward to enjoying some in-flight movies, but you hate using headphones that aren’t your own beloved pair. You board your flight, try to plug in your headphones, but disaster strikes: it’s a two-pin socket!
No matter what you do, you can’t use your own headphones to properly listen to the in-flight entertainment. This is very frustrating and raises two valid questions: why is this happening, and what can you do to fix it?
Can I Bring My Own Headphones on a Plane?
Yes. Of course you’re allowed to bring your own headphones onboard a commercial airplane. You just can’t easily use them during the flight for in-flight entertainment. Most wired headsets come with two 3.5mm connectors for audio and microphone functions, making them incompatible with the two-pin sockets used in standard airline media systems.
If you thought you could circumvent airline socket restrictions using wireless Bluetooth headphones, that may not always work. In many countries, the flight crew just won’t let you use a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth device larger than a smartphone.
Moreover, during take-off, landing or bad weather, you will be politely told to switch off your smartphone. If you’re going to use your own headset at all, you’ll need to find a way to use it with the in-flight entertainment.
Many airlines use cheap plastic headsets especially for economy seats. They’re often reused, and you don’t know whose ears they’ve been in! The bottom line is that it’s always a good idea to bring your own listening device.
Why Do Airlines Use Two-Pin Sockets?
The reason airlines use two-pin sockets on their planes is a little debated. On one hand, it can be seen as a relic of older times. Planes rolled out two-pin sockets in the ’70s as part of the tube-based audio system they used.
As technology jumped to electronic headphone systems, the old-fashioned two-pin sockets stuck around. While some modern planes have since been updated to use single ports, older planes still have these two-pin sockets.
Another theory is that it helps the airline financially over the long term. If the airline supplies the headphones for free, then using the two-pin sockets ensures the headphones are practically useless outside of the flight, reducing the passenger’s desire to steal them. If the airline sells the headphones separately, using two-pin sockets stops people from using their own headphones and forces more customers to purchase the airline’s special two-pin headphones.
Regardless of which theory you think sounds better, this problem is easily defeated without jumping through hoops. This is achieved by an airline headphone adapter which converts a standard one-pin headphone jack into a two-pin connection. Plug your headphones into the adapter, then the adapter into the two-pin socket, and you’re good to go!
Best Airline Headphone Adapters
Find out below the adapters that are available and which one is the best for you.
If you are going to use your wireless headphones with any of these dual prong airline adapters, check whether your headphones also have a wired option with a removable cable.
1. For Lone Travelers and Couples
Whether you’re on a voyage by yourself or enjoying a holiday with your partner, the Airplane Headphone Adapter by MobiLock is a welcome addition to anyone’s luggage. It contains a pack of two gold-plated socket adapters that easily go from two-pin to one-pin. This is handy for couples as well as single travelers who are prone to losing small items while on the move. They even come with their own travel bag to keep them together and tidy in your luggage.
While having a great aesthetic, the adapter serves its purpose well as an airplane audio converter. As a plug-and-play device, it does not require any software installation and can snugly fit into any airline’s dual socket, helping you enjoy the rich stereo sounds of your own headphones.
2. For Families
If you want a quick solution to kit out the whole family with adapters, try the 4-Pack of Airline Flight Adapters by Valefod. This is a quick and budget-friendly way to get an adapter for everyone to use so that no one has to go without or share with someone else. There are no additional bells and whistles on this one – just a good selection of adapters for a great price.
Another thing in the adapter’s favor is the rich sound quality, the result of lower exterior noise and a very snug fit. The Valefod adapter’s two-pin layout is designed for use in the US, and if you want to use the device in other countries, you’ll need to further connect it with an international travel adapter.
3. For Overnight Trips
If you’re prepping yourself for an especially long journey and need something to pass the time, consider using this adapter by Symwell. It is a perfect fit for the Bose’s carrying cases for the QuietComfort line of headphones, including QuietComfort 3, QuietComfort 20, and QuietComfort 35.
As these headphones block all surrounding noise, they’re the best travel buddy for overnight long haul flights. Pair them with soothing eye masks, and you’ll have an amazing sleep during a long flight.
4. For Bluetooth Headphones
If you’re looking for something with Bluetooth connectivity, first ensure the airline will allow you to use Bluetooth accessories. Some will ban it for the entire flight, while others are more lenient and will allow you to use it when the plane isn’t taking off or landing.
If it’s okay for you to use Bluetooth, BTunes comes with an airplane adapter built in, so you don’t need to buy a second wired pair just to listen to in-flight entertainment. With aptX and aptX low latency codecs, you get crystal-clear sound quality, which is even better than what the average airline media system can provide you. With support for over 10 hours of music streaming, this is just another perfect adapter to use for overnight flights.
5. For the Full Works
Why stop at an airplane adapter? The Maxell Adapter Kit comes with five different tools, one of which is the standard adapter for airplane headphone sockets. It also comes with a 20ft extension cord, just in case your headphone cable is a bit on the short side.
No matter which headphones you have, the Maxell kit covers all the bases. If you’re going to have an extended layover at an airport, you will find this kit very reliable for all your entertainment needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do iPhone headphones work with airline headphone adapters?
Yes. Older iPhone EarPods headphones use a 3.5 mm jack and can easily fit into the airline headphone adapters covered in this article. The EarPods with a Lightning connector will need an adapter for the Lightning port, and AirPods willl need use of Bluetooth.
Do you have to take your airline adapters out of your bag at the airport?
As airline adapters fall under the category of electronic devices, you will have to take them out of your bag for security screening at airports.
Is it safe to wear headphones on an airplane?
If you’re sensitive to high decibel noise generated by aircraft engines during takeoff and landing, using a noise canceling headphone is a good idea. While headphones are safe to wear during most of the flight, you’re not allowed to wear them during passenger safety drills.
Image credit: cegoh via Pixabay All screenshots by Sayak Boral
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