We know that, in general, you cannot use electronic devices while flying. But then you also start to see things such as electronic devices while flying, but not during taking off or landing.
However, you also hear some devices must be turned off at all times, while some do not. What about AirPods? Can you use AirPods on a plane?
You can use AirPods on a plane, as confirmed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAA in 2013 allowed airliners to give more leeway in passengers’ use of ‘Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs)’ during all phases of flight. Since AirPods are a PED, you can use AirPods gate-to-gate on most airlines today.
This article explores if you can use AirPods on a plane and what are the current regulations about its use on planes today. We also investigate if TSA has separate rules about AirPods and what rules major US airlines have about it.
What Are AirPods?
AirPods are wireless earphones that run on Bluetooth technology, made by Apple Inc. Aside from playing audio, AirPods come with noise canceling technology, accelerometers and optical sensors to detect taps and pinches. These motions are used to control the audio, such as skipping track and volume.
To those not familiar with Apple products, AirPods are a line of Bluetooth wireless earphones. Airpods usually come in pairs and are hosted in a housing that contains a battery. When placed in, the housing will charge the AirPods. The housing itself can be charged similarly to a smartphone.
When pulled out, the AirPods connect automatically with the device they are paired to. The connection is based on Bluetooth 5.0 technology. Once connected, you may wear it on your ears and listen to audio from your device. People mainly connect their AirPods to their iPhones.
While listening, you may interact with your AirPod by tapping or pinching it. These actions may either pause, play, skip a track or adjust the volumes of your audio. AirPods can perform these functions as they come with accelerometers and optical sensors inside.
Airpods also come with noise canceling technology, allowing you to hear the audio clearly without outside noise interference. This is achieved by using additional speakers inside the AirPods as well.
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Can You Use AirPods On A Plane?
You can use AirPods on a plane. This is allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which in a 2013 report advised airline operators to relax regulations on personal electronic devices (PEDs). The report also mentioned that short-range Bluetooth accessories are safe for use in aircraft.
To determine if you can really use AirPods while in a plane, we need to check with the primary regulator of aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
If you dig into FAA’s records, they established a class of devices called the Personal Electronic Devices, or PEDs, as early as 1966. PEDs came about when the FAA noticed that more people were carrying personal pocket radios to board planes. This lead it to worry if these devices may interfere with aircraft operation.
The FAA conducted further tests, and it was confirmed that these FM radios interfered with the aircraft’s operation. Hence, PEDs started to come into regulation, and the FAA has since been actively testing and confirming what devices could be used on plans or not.
PEDs may include devices that accept or transmit signals. Most devices with Bluetooth, WiFi, and radio wave capabilities are listed under PEDs.
If we move forward to 2013, FAA published a report detailing how airliners could regulate the use of PEDs in flights. In this report, the FAA revises how modern aircraft technology has made using many PEDs possible without interfering with aircraft operation.
It further advises airlines to relax regulations on PEDs and allow passengers more freedom to use PEDs on planes. Regarding Bluetooth devices, the FAA’s report mentioned that short-range Bluetooth accessories are safe to use on a plane. This means AirPods are now safe for use on a plane.
Can You Use AirPods In Airplane Mode?
You can use AirPods in airplane mode without problems. This is because although the phone is in airplane mode, the Bluetooth connection still works independently, without requiring the cellular data connection. Your connection will still work, and you can still listen to the audio of your choice.
The 2013 report from FAA indicated that short-range Bluetooth devices can be used on a plane, but they reaffirmed that mobile phones are not to be used during flights. This is because mobile phones or smartphones use cellular data, which involves long-range signaling technology.
As a result, you still have to turn on the airplane mode on your plane at all times while inside a plane, be it take off, landing, or while in the air.
If you turn on airplane mode, you may wonder if your AirPods still work. The answer is yes because Bluetooth works separately from cellular data. You can turn off cellular data and turn on Bluetooth at the same time.
This means you can still connect your AirPod to your Apple device of choice and listen to audio from it while on the plane. When you turn on airplane mode, you may also notice that Bluetooth is turned off by default. Simply switch it back on to use your AirPods.
What Rules Do Airliners Have On Airpod Use?
Check with your flight crew before using your AirPod. The FAA only instructed airliners to relax their rules on personal electronic devices (PEDs) without providing the details. This means the airlines are free to set their own rules, which means different airlines may have different rules regarding using AirPods.
The FAA’s 2013 report only instructed airliners to relax the rules regarding using personal electronic devices (PEDs). It does not specify in detail what devices are allowed or not allowed, nor does it detail things such as when they should be turned on and turned off.
As a result, airliners are free to set their own rules regarding using PEDs inside their aircraft. This means different airliners may have slightly different rules on this, and it may be a good idea to check with your airliner before using your AirPods.
We list here what we found about electronic products used by several major US airliners:
|Allegiant||Allowed, as determined by the flight crew|
Do understand that the following rules may only apply for flights within the United States. For territories outside of the US, the rules may be different, as they are set by different aviation authorities. They may not follow the FAA’s recommendations.
This means if you are flying to London, United Kingdom on an American Airlines flight, the rules on AirPod use may change as the plane enters the UK’s airspace, the rules may follow the recommendations of the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA.)
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Does TSA Allow Airpods?
TSA allows headphones as part of check-in, and carry-on baggage, which includes AirPods. You also do not need to remove AirPods from your bag and place it on the tray for x-ray during security checks, as it is smaller than a cellphone. However, rules may be different when you fly international, so always check with the local authorities.
Another aviation security body to check with when it comes to AirPods use will be the Transportation Security Authority (TSA). The good news is that the TSA does not have issues with any headphones. As per the TSA, headphones are allowed on check-in and carry-on luggage.
Another good news is unlike laptops or tablets, you do not need to take it out from your bag and place it on your tray for scanning.
This is because when you read up on TSA’s description on how they conduct security checks on carry-on luggage, you only need to remove electronic devices larger than a cellphone, and place them on a tray for X-ray.
However, again, do understand that TSA’s authority is only within the United States, which means when you travel overseas to other countries, you may be subjected to different security requirements when it comes to AirPods.
When in doubt, always place your airpod on the tray for the X-ray scan, and check with the local aviation security (AVSEC) body on regulations on AirPods before you fly.