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Best noise-canceling headphones for airplane travel in 2024

Traveling is all fun when you think that you’ve packed your bag and you’re ready to arrive at your desired destination. Unfortunately, airplane rides can be unpleasant due to the noise. The sound of the engine, the cabin chatter, and even crying children can make your travel a real challenge. Imagine if you need to fly in such an ambient for over 4 hours.

The good news is that there's an easy solution – noise-canceling headphones for airplanes! They come with built-in microphones that pick up low frequencies and block them before they reach your ear. Choose the ones that best fit your needs, budget, and preferences, and enjoy your flight.

Now, let’s dive into our guide about the best noise-canceling headphones for air travel; check out their features and learn how we’ve made this selection. Here we go!

Top 5 noise-canceling headphones for air travel

What to look for in noise-canceling headphones for airplanes?

In order to choose the best noise-canceling headphones for airplanes, you need to consider various factors that set them apart from other similar products. So, let’s not waste time and see what you should look for:

  • Sound quality. The sound quality brings out most of your chosen airplane headphones. Therefore, you need to make sure that they provide clear sound for various audio content, such as music, movies, podcasts, etc.
  • Noise cancelation. You need to go for headphones that have an excellent noise-cancelation system, which will pick up low-frequency noise and neutralize it before it reaches the ear. Due to this, your flying experience will be much better, as surrounding sounds won’t disturb you.
  • Comfort. Flights can vary. Some are shorter, but some are longer. Therefore, you must find headphones with comfortable ear cushions and a headband so you don’t feel any pressure while traveling.
  • Battery life. Another thing you need to consider is the battery life of your headphones. Because flights can be longer than 10 hours, you must ensure that they have robust battery capacity. As a result, your experience while flying won’t be interrupted.
  • Portability. Air travel limits the weight of your suitcase. So, imagine your headphones taking a lot from the space in it. To avoid this, you need to go for compact and easily portable headphones that won’t interfere with this aspect of your travel.

The 10 best noise-canceling headphones for flying – our detailed list

Currently, there are numerous types of headphones that present themselves as noise-canceling. However, we wanted to give you only the best recommendations. That’s why we’ve tested their technology, comfort, sound quality, battery life, and more.

Here is the list of the 10 best noise-canceling headphones for flying!

1. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 – best noise-canceling headphones for airplanes

Sound quality:Good
Battery Life:20h

The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700s allow you to enjoy your flights with one of the best ANC technologies on the market.

Noise cancelation: These headphones are known for their superior noise cancellation. In other words, the level of active noise cancellation is adjustable on a scale from 0 to 10, enabling you to find the amount that works best for them. This is particularly beneficial for airplane use, as it can effectively reduce the noise of the airplane engine.

Comfort: The Bose 700 has a lightweight design that is comfortable to wear for hours. It features an easy-to-use combination of touch controls and physical buttons that you can access without looking. The design is especially comfortable to wear for long periods, with supersoft memory foam padding on the earcups and headband.

Battery life: The battery life of the Bose 700 is around 20 hours, which is sufficient for long flights. Even when the headphones run out of power, the quick charge feature gives you 2 hours and 30 minutes of battery life after 15 minutes of charging time.

Sound quality: The sound quality is good but not as crisp as that of some other headphones. However, it provides a consistently pleasant sound with a smidgen of extra bass, a little roll-off in the high-frequency range, and forward-sounding upper mids. It also has EQ settings that enable you to adjust all sound features.

Wireless: These are wireless headphones, making them convenient and hassle-free, especially during travel. Bose 700s also support a wired connection, which is important if you want to connect to some in-flight entertainment systems.

Compact and portable: The Bose 700 headphones fold flat for easy storage in the supplied case. The case is slimmer than average, making it easy to slip into a briefcase or a plane’s seat back pocket. This makes them highly portable and ideal for travel.

2. Sony WF 1000XM5 – noise-canceling headphones for flying with excellent comfort

Sound quality:Great
Battery Life:8h

With incredible noise cancelation and extended battery life, the Sony WF 1000XM5s provide you with a really impressive flight experience!

Noise cancelation: The Sony WF 1000XM5 earbuds have excellent and adjustable active noise cancellation and passive isolation to suppress better all the sounds around you, not just the low-frequency ones.

Comfort: The earbuds are small and lightweight, making them comfortable for long periods of use. However, people with very small ears might struggle to keep them securely in place.

Battery life: Sony WF 1000XM5s have a battery life of 8 hours with ANC enabled, which is sufficient for long flights or travel periods. The charging case provides two additional full charges, extending the total battery life significantly.

Sound quality: Although the sound quality of the Sony WF 1000XM5 is fantastic, you can further customize it via the Sony app. This ensures you can enjoy their music or entertainment to the fullest during their flight.

Wireless: The Sony WF 1000XM5 earbuds are wireless, providing users with freedom of movement and convenience during travel. However, they can’t be used in wired mode, so a Bluetooth transmitter is needed for use with certain in-flight entertainment systems that require a cable connection.

Compact and portable: The earbuds and the charging case are very compact, making them easy to carry and ideal for travel. The small size of the earbuds and case also means they take up minimal space in a bag or pocket.

3. Soundcore Space One – best noise-canceling headphones for planes with customization options

Sound quality:Good
Battery Life:40h-50h

If you compare the Soundcore Space One headphones to the Bose 700s, you won’t find significant differences. But let’s see what else they offer aside from the ANC customization.

Noise cancelation: The Soundcore Space One headphones have impressive noise cancellation capabilities. The level of noise cancellation is adjustable, allowing you to customize the listening experience based on the surroundings.

Comfort: The comfort of these headphones can significantly enhance your travel experience by reducing discomfort or fatigue. This is crucial for long flights where users may be wearing the headphones for extended periods.

Battery life: The headphones have a 40-hour battery life with ANC on and 55 hours with it off. This long battery life is ideal for long flights where charging opportunities may be limited. Additionally, the quick charge feature provides four hours of listening after just five minutes of charging, ensuring you won’t be left without headphones.

Sound quality: The sound quality of the Soundcore Space One headphones is pretty enjoyable, and it can be customized to your preference through the Soundcore app.

Wireless: The Soundcore Space One headphones are wireless, providing you with freedom of movement without the hassle of cords.

Compact and portable: Thanks to their compact design (rotating ear cups), you can fold the Space One headphones and get more place in your bag.

4. Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones – best noise-canceling headphones for air travel without a wire

Sound quality:Excellent
Battery Life:18-24h

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones will allow you to have a pleasant flight without hearing all of the disrupting noises. Here’s everything they offer.

Noise cancelation: The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones offer excellent ambient noise muffling capabilities, making them ideal for use on an airplane where background noise can be a distraction.

Comfort: These headphones boast a comfortable fit, which is especially crucial for longer flights and wearing them for extended periods.

Battery life: You will be able to use them for up to 24 hours or up to 18 hours if you activate the Immersive Audio option. This is a pretty sufficient battery life, even for longer trips.

Sound quality: The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones come with excellent sound quality. This ensures you will enjoy audio content to the fullest, enhancing your in-flight entertainment experience.

Wireless: The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are wireless, which provides convenience and freedom from tangled wires.

Compact and portable: These headphones fold up into a compact case, which leaves more space in your bag for other stuff.

5. QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds – easily portable noise-canceling headphones for flights

Sound quality:Great
Battery Life:6h

If you enjoy using earbuds that cancel noises, then check out QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds. Here is why you should consider them!

Noise cancelation: The QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds feature superb noise canceling, arguably the best out there. This feature effectively drowns out the constant hum of the plane’s engine, providing a more peaceful and enjoyable listening experience.

Comfort: These earbuds should fit most ears very well, which is crucial for long flights where discomfort can lead to a less enjoyable travel experience.

Battery life: Regarding battery capacity, these earbuds are not suitable for long flights. They only offer a battery life of 6 hours.

Sound quality: The QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds have a great sound with decent clarity. Therefore, you will enjoy your music or movies to the fullest, even in a noisy airplane environment.

Wireless: QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are the ultimate wireless noise-canceling solution, preventing the fuss of long wires.

Compact and portable: Being earbuds, the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are inherently compact and portable. Due to this, you can easily carry them around.

6. Sony WH 1000XM5 – best airplane headphones with superb battery life

Sound quality:Good
Battery Life:30h

Long flights can be exhausting, but imagine having the right tools to help you get through them. With the Sony WH 1000XM5 headphones, you shouldn’t have any issues!

Noise cancelation: This new generation of Sony headphones offers an improved and refined noise-canceling feature. Due to this, they are ideal for airplane use where ambient noise is a constant issue.

Comfort: Sony WH 1000XM5 are very comfortable and don’t cause any irritation if you wear them for a long time.

Battery life: Sony WH-1000XM5s have a battery life of 30 hours, leaving you covered even for longer flights.

Sound quality: Sony WH-1000XM5 offers pretty refined sound. This means that you can enjoy their music or movies without the interference of airplane noise, providing a more enjoyable and immersive experience.

Wireless: Sony WH-1000XM5 is a wireless headphone, saving you from the hassle of wires. This comes in handy in a limited airplane cabin.

Compact and portable: These headphones are a bit large and not the most compact for taking them overseas.

7. Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless – best airplane noise-canceling headphones with fantastic sound quality

Sound quality:Great
Battery Life:46h

Another option you need to explore is Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless headphones. They come with decent ANC, but are they comparable to the previous competitors?

Noise cancelation: The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless headphones offer a respectable level of ANC suitable for most everyday environments. They reduce outside noise by up to 75% under 1kHz and achieve a 90% drop in loudness above 1kHz.

Comfort: Comfort is another strong suit, thanks to its lightweight design and adequate padding, ensuring they can be worn for hours without discomfort.

Battery life: The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless also impresses with a battery life of approximately 46 hours and 40 minutes, making them suitable for extended use without frequent recharging.

Sound quality: The sound quality is generally pleasing, with an emphasis on sub-bass and a 5-band equalizer available through the Sennheiser Smart Control app for personalized adjustments. This ensures a high-quality audio experience during flights, allowing you to enjoy music, movies, or podcasts fully.

Wireless: The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless headphones are wireless, providing freedom of movement and convenience, especially in confined spaces like airplane seats.

Compact and portable: Due to the lack of wire, you can easily transfer these headphones on the plane without sacrificing a lot of space.

8. Apple AirPods Max – headphones with the best-in-class noise-canceling for airplane

Sound quality:Great
Battery Life:20h

Apple has fantastic products, and its AirPods Max are not excluded. With outstanding ANC technology, you will receive a great airplane experience.

Noise cancelation: Apple AirPods Max uses hybrid active noise canceling for optimal noise cancellation. They are the best pure noise cancellers you can buy and receive everything you need.

Comfort: These headphones are among the most comfortable ones on the market. You can even easily pop off the padding to replace them as needed.

Battery life: Apple claims that you can use the AirPods Max for around 20 hours of constant playback while the ANC is on. Therefore, they are a decent choice for longer flights.

Sound quality: Audio performance is right where you’d expect it to be for an Apple product, with much better performance than some of the cheaper options on this list. However, the headphones use only SBC and AAC, meaning no higher bitrate codecs like LDAC.

Wireless: Due to the lack of wires, you don’t have to worry about frustration and getting stuck while you’re on the plane.

Compact and portable: They come with a compact case that allows you to save a little bit of space on your air travel.

9. Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 – best noise-canceling headphones for long flights

Sound quality:Great
Battery Life:40h

Saving money is great. So, why don’t you check out Soundcore by Anker Life Q30, which will give you the best options for a more affordable price?

Noise cancellation: The Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 offers a hybrid ANC designed to filter out low-frequency ambient noise. It also has three customizable noise cancellation modes – Transport, Outdoor, and Indoor, allowing you to optimize the listening experience based on your current setting.

Comfort: The Life Q30 is lightweight and comes equipped with soft protein leather earcups and memory foam padding, ensuring comfort during extended use.

Battery life: The Life Q30 boasts up to 40 hours of playtime in noise-canceling mode and 60 hours in standard mode. A quick 5-minute charge can provide an additional four hours of listening. This extended battery life is ideal for travel.

Sound quality: The Life Q30 features 40mm drivers promising high-resolution audio that captures a wide range of sound. As a result, you’ll get a high-quality listening experience, which will enhance the enjoyment of music or movies during a flight.

Wireless: These headphones have consistent Bluetooth connectivity, enabling you to move without an issue while you’re on the plane.

Compact and portable: Although they are easily portable, the Anker Lige Q30s may not be the most comfortable for airplane usage.

10. Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless – compact noise-canceling headphones for airplane

Sound quality:Good
Battery Life:37h

The last headphones on our list are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. However, this doesn’t mean they are bad. You will receive great ANC technique and sound quality while traveling.

Noise cancelation: The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless headphones have an outstanding ANC system that does a great job of blocking out the low rumble of bus engines, office chit-chat, and the hum of computer fans. They even block out a huge bass range noise.

Comfort: These headphones are one of the most comfortable, meaning you won’t experience any pain or irritation even if you wear them for many hours.

Battery life: With their ANC on, these headphones last over 37 hours continuously. They’re equipped with an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life when not in use. This feature is beneficial for users during long flights or travel periods where charging opportunities may be limited.

Sound quality: These over-ears have a bass-heavy default sound profile that delivers immense thump, rumble, and boom to mixes. If the bass overwhelms vocals and lead instruments, you can customize the sound profile with a graphic EQ and presets in the companion app. This feature allows you to enjoy high-quality sound.

Wireless: The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are indeed wireless headphones. This feature gives you more convenience and freedom from tangled wires, especially in confined spaces like airplane seats.

Compact and portable: Due to being wireless, you can take them with you on the plane without an issue. So, yes. Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are relatively compact.

Comparison of the best noise-canceling headphones for airplanes

Here is a short overview of our top contenders compared:

Model:Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700Sony WF 1000XM5Soundcore Space OneBose QuietComfort Ultra HeadphonesQuietComfort Ultra Earbuds
Sound quality: GoodGreatGoodExcellentGreat
Noise-cancellation: ExcellentGreatExcellentExcellentExcellent
Comfort: ExcellentGoodExcellentGreatExcellent
Battery life:20 hours8 hours40-50 hours18-24 hours6 hours
Main features:
  • Adjustable noise cancellation
  • Lightweight design
  • Fold flat for easy storage
  • Customizable via the Sony app
  • Don’t take a lot of space
  • Adjustable noise cancellation
  • Rotating ear cups
  • 98% noise reduction capability
  • CustomTune technology
  • Soft ear cushions
  • Advanced Bluetooth 5.3
  • CustomTune technology
  • Three listening modes
  • Noise-rejecting microphones

How we selected these noise-canceling headphones for travel

So far, we’ve mentioned that we’ve conducted thorough tests, but now it’s time to see how we make the decision of the 10 best airplane headphones. Let’s have a look:

  • Sound quality. We tested the sound quality of each headphone by listening to a variety of audio content, including music of different genres, podcasts, and movies. We evaluated the clarity, richness, and depth of the sound, as well as the balance between bass, midrange, and treble frequencies.
  • Noise cancelation. We tested the noise cancellation feature in different environments, including a simulated airplane cabin, to assess how well each headphone can block out external noise. We also checked if the headphones have adjustable noise cancellation levels to suit different situations.
  • Comfort. We wore each headphone for extended periods to evaluate their comfort level. We considered factors such as the softness of the ear pads, the pressure exerted on the head and ears, and the overall weight of the headphones.
  • Battery life. We tested the battery life of each headphone by using them continuously on a full charge until the battery ran out. We also checked how long it takes to recharge the battery fully.
  • Portability. We evaluated the portability of each headphone by checking their weight, size, and whether they come with a carrying case. We also checked if the headphones are foldable for easy storage and transport.

Also read

How does Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) work?

Noise cancelation enhances your listening experience by canceling out various external sounds. More precisely, headphones that come with ANC come with a built-in microphone that analyzes the ambient sound waves around you and generates the opposite sound waves to reduce surrounding sound.

However, you should keep in mind that noise cancelation works best when the surrounding sounds are constant and below the low to medium pitch range.

What is the difference between noise-canceling and noise-blocking headphones?

Noise-canceling headphones reduce background noise. They help you improve your listening experience and are suitable for enjoying music or podcasts in noisy environments. Additionally, they also help keep your eardrums from being damaged due to prolonged exposure to loud noises.

On the other hand, noise-blocking headphones tend to block out surrounding sounds. More precisely, they create a physical barrier between your ear and the external noise. Similar to noise-canceling headphones, they create an uninterrupted listening experience, as well as protect your hearing from loud noises.

Is it better to wear headphones or earbuds on a plane?

Headphones cover your ears completely and come with soft ear cushions that don’t cause pain. However, they are bigger and may take up more space in your bag, which may not be the best when traveling with a plane.

Earbuds, on the other hand, are smaller and stay in your ear. Unfortunately, they are often hard and may cause irritation and unpleasant feelings over some time. But they are extremely compact and don’t take up a lot of space.

So, we recommend wearing earbuds, but if you care more about comfort, go for over-ear headphones.


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