12 Best Headphones for Airplane Travel in 2017

Airplanes engines are quite loud, and we all know how nutty the airports themselves can get. When traveling, there are several reasons people want to keep the noise levels down. Whether it’s due to an annoying passenger sitting next to you or you just want to catch a flick, there is a set of airplane headphones made just for you.

When looking for the best headphones for airplane travel, you will be assaulted with thousands of choices spanning hundreds of brands. Familiar names like Bose and Phillips will ring out although more often than not you will find yourself pitting against an unknown brand with high ratings.

That’s why we are here to help, so without further ado, here are our picks for the top 12.

Top 12 Headphones for Airplane Travel Table

DesignNameWirelessNoise BlockingRating (1-5)
  1. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones Yes ANC 4.5
  2. Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones No ANC 4.5
  3. thinksound ms02 In-ear Monitor with Passive Noise Isolation No Passive 4.5
  4. Sennheiser HD 380 PRO Headphones No 32dB 4.4
  5. Status Audio HD One Headphones – Classic No Isolating 4.4
6. Paww WaveSound 3 Bluetooth Headphones Yes ANC 4.4
7. Active Noise Cancelling Headphones With Mic No ANC 4.3
8. JVC HAS160B FLATS Lightweight Headband Headphones No Isolating 4.3
  9. Philips SHB8750NC/27 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Yes ANC 4.2
  10. SoundMAGIC E10 Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphones No Isolating 4.1
  11. Cowin E-7 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Over-ear Stereo Headphones Yes ANC 4.0
  12. Panasonic Premium Sound Over-the-Ear Stereo Headphones No Isolating 3.9

Before Buying, Take These Tips into Account

The most important thing to remember with headphones geared towards frequent flyers is to make sure they actually block a degree of noise out. Even the cheapest set of earbuds can pipe music in, but keeping unwanted sounds out can be harder to do.

  • Size – We don’t need to remind anyone that space is important when you travel. Most of us are sparse on space as it is, and a large pair of airport headphones can put your bag over the top. Many of the better (and more expensive) models are going to be large although some fold up or collapse to save on space.

Style is also something to consider. If you’ve turned on a TV set in the past few years, you have probably seen athletes strolling around with Beats. Needless to say, some of the larger models are far more fashionable than others. Nobody wants to rock a massive set of headphones through the airport unless they are classy.

Thankfully, technology has improved significantly in the headphone department. That means you can pick up a pair of in-ear headphones that can perform just as well as a larger pair. If you go this route, there are two are two phrases you will want to keep in mind – Noise Canceling and Noise Isolating.

  • Noise Cancelling and Noise Isolating – We could get scientific here and hit you with buzz words that would send you running for an online dictionary. If you are looking for travel headphones for an upcoming trip, you have enough on your plate, so we will keep things simple.

As the name implies, Noise Cancelling headphones block out incoming sounds. They use a more high-tech approach with ANC or Active Noise Cancellation. This essentially captures incoming sounds with a mic or external speakers and kills it. How it goes about that depends on the tech involved, but these types of headsets are usually larger and can cost considerably more.

On the other hand, Noise Isolating headphones are cheaper in most cases. They usually rely on a “seal” of sorts whether it’s from padded, oversized cups or foam/silicon plugs your stuff in your ears. Both can be very effective on airplanes although Noise Cancelling will get an edge.

Headphones for Kids or Headphones for Adults?

As much as we hate airport noise as adults, it is even rougher on children. Kids can freak out in airports before they ever get to their seat, and not just due to sheer excitement for those wings or a window seat. We’ve already talked about the size of some of the best headphones for airplane travel, so if space is a concern, you may want something universal.

What works for adults will not work well with children. In other words, in-ear headphones may not be a wise idea and could do more harm than good. That means you’ll want to go the over-the-ear or “earmuff” route.

Some of these can be quite large and may not work on smaller noggins, but many are adjustable to a degree. If you can’t find an adjustable model that looks comfortable enough for your child you can always opt for a junior set of airplane headphones with noise-blocking capabilities.

Top 5 Best Headphones for Airplane Travel Reviews

1. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones

Unless you are new to the audio world, this one should come as no surprise. The Bose QuietComfort series has been killing unpleasant sounds for years while piping in sweet music. They are also a lock for our best headphones for airplanes list despite one drawback.

The QuietComfort 35 headphones are of the Noise Cancelling variety and have a dual microphone setup to direct outside noise away. They are hybrid in a sense as well. You can charge them up (20 hours per charge) and use them wirelessly or wired if you so choose or the battery runs dry. Due to the tech involved, you will have to charge them eventually. As an additional perk, these will connect wirelessly through NFC as well as Bluetooth.

It’s safe to say the Bose QuietComfort series is smarter than most headphones on our list. They are going to sound great, kill unwanted noises and are fairly light to boot at only 8.3 ounces. On the downside, they are expensive and not resistant to sweat.

2. Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise Cancelling Headphones

If you don’t want to have tiny boxes attached to your head in-flight, the Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones may be the solution. These keep a low profile as they sit in your ear instead of going around it while still sporting the company’s same Noise Cancelling technology.

The QuietComfort 20 has a cool trick up its sleeve called “Aware” mode. This will allow you to kill your music with a tap of a button so that you can listen to the world outside. In-line controls are present as well while the StayHear+ tips keep the earbuds intact and comfortable. These will need to be charged like the Quiet Comfort 32, but still work when they battery runs dry. You just won’t get noise cancellation.

Due to their size, the Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones are cheaper than their big brother. There are currently two models available with a “universal” set made for Android and devices with a 3.5mm headphone jack and one for newer iPhones with the Lightning port.

3. ThinkSound ms02 In-ear Monitor

You may often “get what you pay for” in the tech world, but that saying doesn’t always apply to audio products. The ThinkSound ms02 in-ear headphones prove that as they look great, sound amazing, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

When it comes to noise reduction for planes and airports, the ms02’s use Passive Noise Isolation. The keyword is Isolation as these use a seal around your eardrum to block out noise. That means they don’t have the additional tech like the Bose, but perform admirably in the sound department. They are also small at 8mm and have a tangle-resistant cable with Kevlar reinforcement.

The ThinkSound ms02 are by far the stylish earbuds on our list (sorry, Bose). They come in several classy styles made from wood with metal accents. Your traveling companions will be impressed.

4. Sennheiser HD 380 PRO

As their moniker implies, the Sennheiser HD 380 PRO Headphones are a little fancier than most headphones on our list, Bose brand aside. They have an amazing ability to block sound out up to 32dB and sport a sturdy cable with a 3.5mm plug, but also comes with a 1/4” adapter; this ensures you can listen to them in-flight or at home on your sound system.

The Duofol diaphragm design of the HD 380 PRO headset works to keep sounds out but also keeps your noise in. That’s equally important unless you want to irk your fellow passengers with your music tastes or favorite flick. They are fairly large as well at around 6.9” x 3.9” x 8.9” so they should accommodate heads large and small.

If the Sennheiser HD 380 PRO headset tickles your fancy, you will be pleased to know it comes with a 2-year warranty and a carrying case for easy storage. This headset comes with a few bonuses as there are higher-priced bundles that include a headphone amp or mic.

5. Status Audio HD One Headphones

Like the look of Beats big headphones but not the price? If so, the HD One headset from Status Audio may be the perfect solution for you. They have a similar style sans the branding and are considerably cheaper. They are wired like most of the best headphones for airplane travel on our list, but extremely portable and easy to tote on a plane as they can fold up.

When it comes to the audio, Status chose to go with 40mm drivers which will cover the lows and highs with ease. While not quite oversized, they are large enough for everyone and work well if you sport spectacles or sunglasses. Noise-cancelling is another trick, and you’ll get two cables out of the box to boot. One with an in-line remote control and mic while the other cable is longer and geared towards gamers.

The Status Audio HD One headset won’t break the bank and is available in three different colors with Black & Red, Marathon (Red), and the sleek Jet Black.

Our Conclusions

We talked about a few points to keep in mind when shopping for a great headset for travel. One thing we didn’t delve into are glasses and headwear. Your favorite had may not fit quite so well with large headphones on and absolutely no one wants “hat hair” on a plane. If you opt for earbuds, you’ll be fine if you rock a hat or eyewear, just make sure they have a solid NRR rating or Active/Dynamic Noise Reduction.

Many of the headphones can also be used for other purposes when you aren’t globetrotting. If you purchase something too specialized, it may not be of great use at home or in other areas. That said, all of these headsets will work with almost any gadget in the air or on the ground if you have the proper adapter.