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Are wireless headphones allowed on planes?

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Question:

I have a question about SleepPhones® Wireless— are they allowed to be used on a plane?

(Answer provided by AcousticSheep LLC's CEO, Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, MD)

On October 31, 2013, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) issued guidelines expanding the use of personal electronic devices on flights, as long as the airline can prove that their aircraft are safe, with the devices in use. Here are the highlights:

  • Cellular transmissions must be turned off (phones must be in airplane mode).
  • Short-range wireless such as Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi are allowed.
  • Items still not allowed: e-cigarettes, radio transmitters, personal air purifiers, TV, TV receivers, remote-controlled toys, walkie-talkies, heating devices (e.g., blow dryers, bottle warmers, and curling irons), humidifiers, and dangerous batteries (e.g., Samsung Galaxy Note 7, hoverboards).

For personal safety, airlines may still have specific policies regarding stowing of all items (including books and laptops) during takeoff and landing.

https://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=15254

We conducted some reaserch and gathered some specific information regarding the wireless and personal electronic device policies for a number of air carriers:

ALLOWED:

Delta:

Yes, Bluetooth is allowed with two exceptions. When flying into or taking off from Singapore and Jamaica, due to their government regulations, Bluetooth is allowed only over 10,000 feet. Delta has the most detailed list of all of the airlines reviewed. Notable (not-so-obvious) allowed devices include the following:

  • AM/FM or satellite radios (receivers)
  • electric shavers
  • GPS receivers
  • pagers
  • hearing aids

https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/support/faqs/during-your-trip/personal-electronic-devices.html

JetBlue:

Yes, Bluetooth is allowed!

http://blog.jetblue.com/28502-2/

Southwest:

Yes, Bluetooth is allowed!

https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/General-Travel-Policies/Hearing-aids-with-blue-tooth/td-p/55199

https://www.dallasnews.com/business/airlines/2013/11/20/southwest-airlines-joins-carriers-who-allow-gate-to-gate-use-of-electronic-devices

United:

Yes, Bluetooth is allowed!

https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/inflight/devices.aspx

Alaska Air:

Alaska Air says that Bluetooth is allowed with one exception. When flying into to taking off from Mexico, due to their government regulation, Bluetooth is allowed only over 10,000 feet.

https://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/policies/onboard-policies-portable-electronic-devices

 

PROBABLY OKAY:

American:

We can’t find explicit approval of Bluetooth by American, but wifi is allowed. That means short range wireless (Bluetooth) is likely okay. We’ve submitted a question through their customer service webform to confirm.

https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/experience/entertainment/wi-fi-and-connectivity.jsp

4/30/2018: No response yet from customer service webform.

Frontier:

Frontier provides no information regarding the use of Personal Electronic Devices on their website or FAQ section. But we did find a Denver Post article from February 2014 that says that they now comply with the FAA guidelines for small electronic devices during all phases of flight. We believe that Bluetooth is likely allowed, but we’ve submitted a question through their customer service webform to confirm.

https://www.flyfrontier.com/travel-information

http://blogs.denverpost.com/thebalancesheet/2014/02/14/frontier-airlines-electronics-approved-by-faa/11617/

3/16/2018 Update from Frontier: As per my research, we do allow passengers the ability to bring their bluetooth devices, such us wireless bluetooth headphones, on-board of the aircraft as a personal or carry-on item. However, using the item during the flight might be restricted by our flight attendants once on-board. You may still attempt to use the item if you find other passengers doing the same and our attendants are allowing it. Otherwise, just be reminded that for safety measures they may restrict you from using it. We hope this helps. Thank you for choosing Frontier Airlines. Sincerely, Kristine

Spirit:

Spirit's official guidelines do not make it explicitly clear whether or not Bluetooth is allowed. It basically says small devices are allowed, as long as cellular service is disabled, which is the same as the FAA guidelines and everywhere else. Based on our reading of the guidelines, it’s consistent with all other guidelines issued by the FAA. Therefore, we believe that Bluetooth is allowed gate-to-gate, including during flight. We’ve submitted a question through their customer service webform to confirm.

https://customersupport.spirit.com/hc/en-us/articles/202177823-Can-I-use-my-Portable-Electronic-Devices-Onboard-the-Aircraft-

4/30/2018: No response yet from customer service webform.

PROHIBITED:

Hawaiian Airlines:

Wireless devices are NOT permitted for use.

http://hawaiianair.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2091/~/portable-electronic-devices

Allegiant Air:

Cell phones even in airplane mode are not allowed at any time.

https://www.allegiantair.com/faqs

 

 

AcousticSheep LLC is in Erie, PA, about 11 miles across Lake Erie from Canada. So we researched Air Canada too. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, since they don't answer to the FAA. An undated answer to a customer question says that earphones are not allowed during take off and landing because they may prevent hearing critical announcements. There is no guidance on Bluetooth transmissions.

http://gofar.aircanada.com/en/go-far-answers/question/earphones-during-ttl/

We sincerely hope this information has been useful to you. This post is as of March 12, 2018. We will update this post as we hear back from the airlines contacted.

The Bluetooth wireless functions in SleepPhones Wireless and SleepPhones Effortless can be safety used on most major US-based airlines except Hawaiian Airlines and Allegiant Air.

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