The best headphones for plane travel are essential if you want some much-needed peace and quiet on your journey. That's because when you're travelling on an airplane, there are all kinds of noises you can't control, like the sounds of passengers talking and snoring, or babies crying.
But a good pair of the best noise-canceling headphones can block out those sounds to varying degrees, making them ideal for planes. Many of the headphones in our list, like the Apple AirPods Pro 2, below have "Active noise canceling" technology, or ANC, which refers to headphones that emit sounds to your ear that specifically cancel out certain unwanted sounds in your environment.
In short, they provide the best possible experience. And although some won't completely block out all sounds, they do a good enough job to help you relax and even get some sleep while everyone else is eating, watching movies and chatting around you.
Block out annoying sounds with the best headphones for plane travel
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Best for Apple lovers
Apple's AirPods Pro 2 slip easily into a pocket and connect to your iPhone seamlessly. Unlike previous AirPods, the AirPods Pro have active noise-canceling, making them a perfect travel companion on your next flight. They're an upgrade on the previous AirPods Pro because they have personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking, which places sound around you.
These special headphones offer three noise cancellation levels, a noise-rejecting microphone, built-in Alexa, and even audio-only AR (augmented reality.) Get 20 hours of battery life from a single charge. Want to spoil yourself when you travel? This is how you do it.
Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus True Wireless Earphones offer 40 hours of total playtime with the stainless steel charging case and include active noise cancelation, as we raved about in our review. What's not to love?
Read about the superior sound, secure ear hooks, and nine hours of listening time (24 hours with the charging case) with the truly wireless Beats by Dr. Dre - Powerbeats Pro in our review. Connect to any smartphone, as they are compatible with iOS and Android.
While these active noise-canceling headphones come in a bunch of fun fashion colors, they are serious tech. Get 30 hours of wireless talk or playtime from a four-hour charge.
Bargain true wireless
As I pointed out in my review, you don't have to spend a lot of money to get a good pair of wireless noise-canceling earbuds. Earfun Free Pro Wireless Headphones give you a lot of bang for the buck. The charging case charges via USB-C or wirelessly, and gives you up to 32 hours of listening on a single charge. The earbuds come with several sizes of ear tips so everyone can have a perfect fit.
While the price point may put this one out of reach for some, Apple undeniably knows sound. Get the ultimate personal listening experience with Apple's AirPods Max, the high-fidelity wonder we loved reviewing. Choose from a handful of color options.
You can't go wrong with Sony's popular premium over-ear headphones. The WH-1000XM4 gives you great sound, battery life, and comfort. They come in several neutral colors. The active noise canceling is top-notch.
Proving once again that you don't have to spend a lot to get a great pair of headphones, Anker's offering blocks up to 90% of ambient noise. Get up to 40 hours of nonstop play time while in active noise canceling mode, or up to 60 hours in standard mode. A five-minute quick charge buys you another four hours.
Apple sauce for less
Get that Apple magic in a pair of over-ear headphones that cost far less than AirPods Max. You'll get the Apple W1 chip and Class 1 wireless Bluetooth connectivity plus 40 hours of play time. Note that these do not offer active noise canceling, but the over-ear style means you'll get some passive noise blocking.
Air travel headphones don't have to be wireless; in fact, if you want to plug into the airplane's sound system, you need that headphone jack. Plug in with these nicely priced over-ear headphones from sound expert brand Sony. Watch the in-flight entertainment with these; they'll be a major upgrade over the free headphones offered by the airline.
A good mid-range option
The Anker Q35 are a good pair of commuting headphones thanks to their excellent 44 hours of battery life, comfortable fit and excellent noise cancellation. Sound is great here and the app has an option to tweak the EQ and other settings, which is good news for audiophiles.
Which headphones are the best for plane travel?
The best headphones for plane travel tend to be noise-cancelling headphones. But that's not strictly necessary. If your headphones fit well, the passive noise isolation may be sufficient.
If you're looking for something more compact and pocketable, we'd recommend a pair of the best true wireless earbuds, like the Apple AirPods Pro 2, especially if you own a lot of Apple devices as they work so seamlessly together. Turn on active noise cancellation for fully immersive sound, or put on transparency mode for important airplane announcements or conversation with your travel companions.
No list of headphones could be complete without mentioning Apple's AirPods Max. If they're within your budget, we'd highly recommend checking them out. They're not as compact as true wireless earbuds, but if you're looking for a pair of the best wired headphones, they're some of the most advanced on the market.
If you're looking for something more bargain-friendly, you'll enjoy the Earfun Free Pro Wireless Headphones. We took these on a recent flight and watched several television shows without being disturbed by the sounds around me. The sound, battery life, features, and price are quite nice.
If you don't need headphones specifically for travel but would like to know which are the top devices out there right now, then take a look at some of our other lists, including our best Bluetooth headphones for Apple Watch guide, our selection of the best wired headphones for Apple Music Lossless Audio and our best USB-C Headphones for iPad Pro list.
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Karen is a contributor to iMore.com as a writer and co-host of the iMore Show. She’s been writing about Apple since 2010 with a year-long break to work at an Apple Store as a product specialist. She's also a contributor at CNET. Before joining iMore in 2018, Karen wrote for Macworld, AppAdvice, WatchAware. She’s an early adopter who used to wait in long lines on release days before pre-ordering made things much easier. Karen is also a part-time teacher and occasional movie extra. She loves to spend time with her family, travel the world, and is always looking for portable tech and accessories so she can work from anywhere.