Flying long haul is not without its challenges. The lack of legroom, the dry air and, of course, the flimsy, tinny headphones that seem ergonomically designed to fit as few people comfortably as possible – a plight that affects travellers in economy and business class alike. But that particular pain point was alleviated for me on a recent 14-hour flight to Japan, thanks to a tiny adaptor I tucked into my backpack: the Twelve South Airfly headphone transmitter.
This clever device plugs into the aeroplane’s headphone jack. It connects to your existing headphones via Bluetooth, allowing you to use your own pair with the inflight entertainment systems – and leave the disposable ones blissfully inside their wrapper. This gives you a far superior sound quality while settling in for – yet another – film, especially if you have noise-cancelling headphones, where noise pollution, such as babies crying or fellow passengers snoring, will be firmly banished.
Even better? The device can split audio into two sets of headphones, making it an especially handy buy when travelling with children. Two can watch the same film on one tablet, each with headphones, freeing you to relax.
It’s priced at £59.99, which is a decent cost outlay for an enhanced flight experience, but there are some further benefits when you’ve landed, too. The adaptor has aux-in capability, so you can stream music from your phone in a rental car – and you can even use it to soup up non-Bluetooth compatible record players at home, allowing you to listen to legacy media via your swanky smart speakers.
Upon unboxing, the device feels a little flimsy – although the brand has also just released a more premium-feeling version at a slightly increased price point – but it does the job intended. I plugged it in, put my headphones into pairing mode and connected straight away with no issue. It works with all Bluetooth headphones, so there should be no problems with compatibility for your particular pair. With 14 hours to kill, I was grateful for the more immersive film experience: despite a business class seat, I tried the aeroplane’s headphones and was met with the signature fuzz and crackle whenever I knocked the wires, along with a woefully inferior sound quality.
When settling in for a big flight, the little things – a proper travel pillow, and a comfy outfit – can make all the difference. I, for one, will be adding this little adaptor firmly to my packing list for all long-haul trips going forward. You can pick up the Twelve South Bluetooth Headphone Transmitter on Amazon here.