Using your wireless headphones during flights just got a whole lot easier

A man wearing the sony wh-1000xm3 wireless headphones while relaxing on a flight
(Image credit: Sony)

It's a problem that's plagued the owners of Bluetooth headphones for years – but now you can finally use your wireless headphones with inflight movie systems (as long as you're flying with the right airline, that is). 

United Airlines has ordered a fleet of new aircraft, which feature entertainment screens with Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to hook up your headphones wirelessly. The days of using the flimsy in-ear headphones that come free with your flight are over.

Being able to use your own headphones should make for a much more comfortable flight, as well as giving you the benefit of better sound quality than the free airline headsets. Whether you use true wireless earbuds or noise-cancelling over-ear headphones, you now have a choice as to how you experience your inflight entertainment.

United Airlines is the first airline to allow this in the US, but it's not the first in the world – that title goes to Qatar Airlines, which introduced a similar system to its aircraft.

Why has it taken so long?

Wireless headphones may afford the kind of flexibility and comfort that makes them ideal for use during long haul flights, but issues with Bluetooth connectivity on airplanes has made it tricky to use them successfully in the past. 

Even just connecting your headphones to your phone can be difficult – you're in close proximity to lots of other Bluetooth devices, and just finding your headphones in your phone's settings can be impossible. 

If you do manage to connect, you have the issue of interference, which can cause your movies or music to be obscured by the sound of static, lead to lagging between sound and visuals (particularly annoying if you're trying to watch a movie or play a game), or make your connection drop out altogether. 

Some headphones companies have tried to get around these restrictions. The Sony WH-1000XM4 – AKA, the best headphones you can buy today – come with an inflight adapter in the box, so you can use a wired connection to the aircraft's entertainment system. 

Still, being able to use headphones like these without the need for a cable should make flying much more comfortable, and far less irritating – here's hoping other airlines take note so we can ditch those airline headsets for good.

Via Simple Flying

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.