a music player and earbuds

I don’t know about you, but my phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, and my phones headphones are now wireless. Because of this, every time I get on an airplane, I find myself deeply frustrated at the need to carry a separate pair of wired headphones with me. And that’s before we even get on the subject of airplane food, but that’s for another day.

For years, I’ve used over the ear headphones that are wireless, but have a jack to plug in a 35mm audio cord for flights, but I recently decided it was time to move to a slimmer, in ear model, which was easier to sleep on. Only one problem: on tiny wireless ear buds, there’s no little jack for a cord – it’s wireless or bust, and on airplanes, there is no wireless – so it’s bust!

If only there was a wireless adapter… oh wait – it turns out, there is.

a screen on a seatI was on my way from London to New York when I spotted a friend across the aisle. To my disbelief, he appeared to be chuckling along to his in flight entertainment with wireless ear buds, which prompted me to rudely tap him on the shoulder and say “WTF?!”.

It turns out, the one thing that had always kept me from buying wireless in ear headphones already existed.

Call me dumb, uninformed or whatever you want, but I just didn’t know that a company had already anticipated this frustration and built the perfect device: a slim, easy to connect bluetooth adaptor that plugs into your seat, and instantly, wirelessly connects to your headphones. Apparently, the rest of the world is finding out rather quickly too – it’s now sold out in most stores.

a music player and earbudsRHA Audio created a tiny bluetooth adapter which fits in the palm of the hand, works for at least 16 hours between charges, is designed for flights and works anywhere you need to take an audio feed without bluetooth and broadcast it to something bluetooth.

It’s so small, it’s superb in economy too.

And side note: it can pair two headsets at once, so you can actually stream something from a device or screen with a friend and watch or listen in tandem. It’s a bit niche, but if you’re travelling with someone it’s an awesome feature.

a black device with a plug inThe device works for the single jack headphone connections, but has a second prong for flights. It also recharges rather fast via USB-C. The RHA Audio Bluetooth Flight Adapter runs £39 in the UK, or $49.95 in the USA, and is actually available in every major airport in both countries.

If only I’d actually thought to ask someone at an airport electronics store about this sort of thing, I might have known about this a fair bit sooner, and would’ve been sleeping better on planes for months. Fortunately, I have one now, and can finally make that wireless in ear purchase I’ve been putting off out of fear of being useless on planes…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I have been using a bluetooth wireless transmitter for years. It is so nice to be able to move around and not worry about a wire. I will sometimes even go to the bathroom while still listening to what is playing at my seat. There are many transmitters available Amazon. Most are less than $50. Most bluetooth transmitters have both transmit and receiving capability. Similar devices that only receive bluetooth are far more common, but won’t work for this purpose. The biggest drawback is that the headphone jack on the airplane seat is often worn causing static in the signal or sometimes the device will remove the static causing dead air. In this case, the analog solution of plugging in a cord sometimes produces better results.

  2. This is sick!

    Does this require specific headphones or is there a way to sync w/ my Bose headphones?

  3. There are also models that can both transmit & receive. Thus making non Bluetooth headphones wireless or allowing you to stream from phone to aux input in car or to home stereo

  4. This will be brilliant as the noise cancelling quality on the QC35s is poor when they get wired in.

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