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The Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights: What You Need for Comfort and Entertainment In the Skies

In our guide to choosing the best headphones for long flights, we cover all the top noise canceling and isolating models of 2024 perfect for air travel. Learn which over-ear, on-ear and in-ear options provide the most comfort, sound, battery life, and noise reduction in the skies. Find the ideal headphones to enhance your entertainment and help you relax or sleep on any long haul flight!

By: Aleksey Makohon Date: 10 / 30, 2023
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NOTE: In 2024, I decided to revise and update this comprehensive guide to reflect the latest changes in the headphone market, including the release of new models and cutting-edge technologies that have emerged since my initial publication. Rest assured, all the information presented here is the most relevant and up-to-date, so you can make an informed decision when choosing the perfect headphones for your next long flight. Whether you prioritize noise cancellation, comfort, sound quality, or portability, I've got you covered with my top picks across various styles and budgets.

As an avid traveler and professional musician, I've spent countless hours on long haul flights around the world. I know first-hand how essential a good pair of headphones can be for blocking out engine noise, listening to music and movies, taking work calls, or just getting some much needed sleep.



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In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about choosing the right headphones for your next long flight. I'll draw on my years of experience testing headphones in real world travel scenarios to recommend the top picks across various styles and budgets.

Key Factors to Consider When Shopping for Headphones for long flights

Not all headphones are created equal when it comes to long flights. Here are the most important factors to keep in mind:

Noise Isolation and Cancellation

This is by far the most critical feature for frequent flyers. The constant drone of the airplane engine can easily give you a headache on a long transoceanic flight.

  • Noise isolating in-ear buds physically block out sound by sealing off your ear canal. This passive method works quite well.
  • Noise canceling headphones use tiny microphones to pick up ambient noise and counter it with opposing anti-noise signals. This active electronic system blocks more low frequency rumble.

Look for models with excellent noise reduction ratings if you really want to mute that engine roar.


You may be wearing your headphones for 10+ hours on an overnight international flight, so comfort is paramount. Prioritize lightweight models with plush, padded earcups and adjustable headbands. Earbuds that come with different sized tips are ideal for getting a customized in-ear fit.

Battery Life

One of the worst feelings is when your wireless headphones die mid-flight, leaving you with no music or movies. For long trips, look for headphones with at least 15-30 hours of battery life, or ones that can be used passively with the noise cancellation turned off when the battery runs low.


Bulky full-size headphones can be cumbersome to pack in your carry-on bag. Compact on-ear or collapsible over-ear designs are your best bet for portability. For ultralight travel, wireless earbuds take up almost no room at all. Just don't lose those tiny buds!


Of course, budget is a consideration too. You can find excellent noise-isolating earbuds for under $100, whereas premium noise-canceling over-ears typically cost $200-400. I'll recommend picks across various price points.

With these factors in mind, let's dive into some of my top headphone picks for airline travel! Keep reading for both budget-friendly models and high-end offerings from brands like Bose and Sony. I'll help you find the right balance of comfort, noise reduction, sound quality, battery life, and portability.

Top 10 Headphones for long flights

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights - Treblab X2

TREBLAB Z2 - The Best Overall Headphones for Long Flights

The TREBLAB Z2 over-ear headphones top my list as the best overall headphones for long haul flights thanks to their exceptional combination of comfort, noise cancellation ability, sound quality, and value.

+ Pros:

  • Excellent noise cancellation blocks out airplane engine noise
  • Very comfortable padding for long wear
  • 45-hour battery life outlasts even the longest flights
  • High-quality audio with punchy bass
  • Comes with carrying case and flight adapter
  • Great value under $100
  • Reliable Bluetooth connection

- Cons:

  • Bulky over-ear design less portable than earbuds
  • ANC slightly affects sound quality
  • Earcups can get warm during extended use

Key Features and Experience

The Z2s are lightweight wireless over-ear headphones featuring advanced active noise cancellation (ANC) technology. I've tested them on dozens of long flights and been thoroughly impressed. Key features include:

  • 40mm drivers deliver excellent sound quality with deep bass and crisp treble
  • ANC uses internal and external microphones to block ambient noise
  • Soft protein leather earpads are comfortable even during marathon listening sessions

I'm continually amazed at the quality ANC performance provided by these sub-$100 headphones. The company focused on noise cancellation abilities rather than costly premium materials.

Why it's a good choice for long flights: 

The Z2s have top-notch noise cancellation to block out airplane engine drone. They are comfortable enough to wear for 10+ hours thanks to soft padded earcups. With a 45 hour battery life, you won't have to worry about your headphones dying mid-flight. The Z2s deliver amazing performance and features for less than $100, making them the best overall value ANC headphones for air travel.

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights image 2

Bose QuietComfort 45

+ Pros:

  • Industry-leading active noise cancellation blocks ambient sound
  • Very comfortable earcups you can wear for hours
  • 24-hour battery life great for long trips
  • Crisp, balanced audio performance
  • Foldable design more portable than other over-ears
  • Seamless Bluetooth pairing and voice assistant access

- Cons:

  • Expensive at around $329
  • Bass response lacks impact for some genres
  • Noise cancellation affects sound quality slightly

Short description: 

The Bose QuietComfort 45 are premium wireless over-ear headphones renowned for their industry-leading active noise cancellation technology that practically eliminates ambient noise. They offer all-day comfort and crisp, balanced sound quality.

Why it's a good choice for long flights: 

I've used Bose QC headphones for years and the QC45 continues their legacy of best-in-class noise cancellation. The patented ANC system practically eliminates ambient engine noise, letting you relax or focus on entertainment. The soft earcups and headband provide all-day comfort, while the foldable design fits into included case for portability. For frequent travelers seeking peace and quiet on flights, the QC45s are worth the investment. My friend James swears by them for his multi-leg business trips. Just don't expect booming bass performance. Overall, the QC45s are unmatched for noise reduction and comfort in the skies.

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights image 3

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

+ Pros:

  • Effective active noise cancellation with transparency mode
  • Plush leather earpads for excellent comfort
  • Dynamic and well-balanced sound profile
  • Customizable EQ via app
  • Up to 60 hours of battery life
  • Sturdy premium design with metal accents

- Cons:

  • On the heavier side at almost 300g
  • Expensive at $350
  • Touch controls can be finicky

Short Description: 

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are high-end wireless over-ear headphones delivering excellent noise cancellation, comfort, and customizable sound quality courtesy of its dynamic drivers and EQ app.

Why It's a Good Choice for Long Flights:

I've been impressed by the latest Momentum's noise cancelling abilities - they significantly hush cabin noise without coloring the sound. The soft memory foam earpads are so comfortable that I forgot I was wearing them on a recent 14-hour flight to Singapore.

With up to 60 hours of playtime, you can easily make it through multiple flights or a couple movies. And the customizable EQ via the app lets you sculpt the dynamic sound profile to your liking - I boost the bass a bit for hip hop tracks.

The stylish metal and leather design looks slick and feels sturdy enough to survive life on the road. At $350, the Momentum 4 Wireless are certainly a luxury headphone purchase. But for frequent fliers who prioritize comfort, sound quality, and noise cancellation for extended wear, they deliver in spades. The transparency mode is great for when you still want to hear cabin announcements too. Overall an excellent premium pick!

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights image 5

Apple AirPods Max

+ Pros:

  • Excellent active noise cancellation
  • Great sound with dynamic head tracking
  • Premium design and build quality
  • Seamless connectivity with Apple devices
  • 20-hour battery life
  • Breathable knit mesh canopy

- Cons:

  • Very expensive at $549
  • Heavy at 385g
  • No power button
  • Case lacks protection

Short Description: 

The Apple AirPods Max are premium wireless over-ear headphones with exceptional noise cancellation powered by Apple's H1 chip. They feature excellent sound, dynamic head tracking, and seamless connectivity with Apple devices.

Why It's a Good Choice for Long Flights:

As an Apple user, I love the seamless connectivity the AirPods Max provide with my iPhone and other Apple devices. The noise cancellation is on par with Bose, blocking out the cabin noise completely so I can focus on my music and movies.

The sound quality is excellent, especially with spatial audio tracks that place you at the center of a dynamic surround soundscape. The knit mesh canopy stays comfortable during long trips without getting too hot.

While very pricey at $549, the AirPods Max offer an outstanding listening experience without wires along with Apple user-friendly features like automatic pairing. For Apple devotees seeking a top-tier noise-canceling headset, the AirPods Max deliver.

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights image 6

Anker Soundcore Life Q35

+ Pros:

  • Impressive noise cancellation for the price
  • Warm, rich sound profile
  • 40+ hour battery life
  • Lightweight and comfortable design
  • EQ customization via app
  • Bluetooth 5.0 for reliable connection

- Cons:

  • Noise cancellation not as strong as premium brands
  • Sound lacks detail and clarity at high volumes
  • Cheap plastic build feels flimsy

Short Description: 

The Anker Soundcore Life Q35 are budget-friendly wireless over-ear headphones providing very good active noise cancellation, rich sound, and marathon 40+ hour battery life at a fraction of the cost of premium models.

Why It's a Good Choice for Long Flights:

As far as budget noise-canceling headphones go, the Soundcore Life Q35 punches above its weight class. For around $100, you get capable active noise cancellation that significantly mutes engine rumble.

The 40+ hour battery life means you can go multiple flights without recharging. I was able to use them wired with noise cancelling off for 50+ hours total on a trip to Asia. While the plastic build feels a bit cheap, the padded earcups remain comfortable during extended wear.

For the price, the warm audio quality is perfectly fine for movies and podcasts. The customizable EQ is nice for tweaking the sound profile too. If you want strong noise cancellation at a fraction of the cost of premium brands, the Q35s are a great value choice for travel.

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights image 7

Sony WH-CH720N

+ Pros:

  • Effective noise cancellation blocks cabin noise
  • 35 hours of battery life
  • Foldable design is portable
  • Customizable sound via Sony Headphones Connect app
  • USB-C quick charging

- Cons:

  • Tight clamping force uncomfortable for some
  • Lacks premium build quality
  • Not the best call quality

Short Description: 

The Sony WH-CH720N are affordable wireless ANC headphones offering effective noise cancellation, 35-hour battery life, and customizable sound quality via Sony's Headphones Connect app.

Why It's a Good Choice for Long Flights:

As an affordable noise-canceling option from Sony, the WH-CH720N perform admirably well given their reasonable price tag. The ANC tech significantly reduces engine rumble and cabin noise for immersive music listening.

The whopping 35 hours of battery life means you'll never run out of juice mid-flight. The foldable design collapses nicely into the included case. And USB-C charging gives you 1.5 hours of use from just 10 minutes of charging.

While the build quality doesn't match Sony's premium models, the WH-CH720N provide great noise cancellation and marathon battery to enhance long trips without breaking the bank.

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights image 8

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

+ Pros:

  • Excellent audio quality with crisp details
  • Good passive noise isolation
  • Comfortable earpads suitable for long wear
  • 40+ hour battery life
  • Foldable and lightweight

- Cons:

  • Lack of active noise cancellation
  • Bulky for portable use
  • Not ideal for voice calls

Short Description: 

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT are wireless over-ear headphones praised for their excellent audio quality, long battery life, and passive noise isolation from their closed-back design.

Why It's a Good Choice for Long Flights:

While the M50xBT lacks advanced active noise cancellation, the sealed over-ear design does a decent job passively blocking out cabin noise so you can focus on the excellent audio performance.

The 45mm drivers deliver crisp highs and deep lows for enjoying music and movies. The soft earpads stay comfortable on long flights without getting too warm. And you get up to 40 hours of wireless playback.

As a sound quality purist, I sometimes prefer the natural isolation of good closed-back headphones compared to noise cancelling, which can color the sound. If you want great wired or wireless audio in a lightweight package, the M50xBTs are a great option for travel.

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights image 9

Beats Studio3 Wireless

+ Pros:

  • Powerful, bass-heavy sound
  • Effective active noise cancellation
  • Up to 22 hours of battery life
  • Streamlined on-ear design
  • Fast charging via USB-C

- Cons:

  • Tight on-ear fit uncomfortable for some
  • Lacks detail and nuance in sound
  • Expensive at around $350

Short Description: 

The Beats Studio3 Wireless are wireless on-ear headphones featuring enhanced, bass-heavy sound quality and effective active noise cancellation courtesy of Apple's W1 chip.

Why It's a Good Choice for Long Flights:

For travelers who love deep thumping bass, the Studio3 Wireless deliver pounding low end along with capable noise cancellation to keep the engine rumble at bay.

The streamlined on-ear design is compact for travel while still housing Apple's W1 chip for seamless iOS pairing and 22 hours of wireless playback. Fast charging gives you 3 hours of use from 10 minutes plugged in.

While audiophiles may wince at the bloated bass-heavy sound, the Studio3 Wireless provide an energetic listening experience perfect for pop, hip hop, and electronic genres on long flights.

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights image 10

Jabra Elite 85h

+ Pros:

  • Excellent noise cancellation with transparency mode
  • Great sound quality with EQ customization
  • 36+ hour battery life
  • Rain-resistant design
  • Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity

- Cons:

  • Bulkier than competing models
  • Physical buttons can be hard to locate by feel
  • Earcups get warm during extended wear

Short Description: 

The Jabra Elite 85h are stylish wireless over-ear headphones with strong noise cancellation, customizeable sound via EQ, and 36+ hour battery life.

Why It's a Good Choice for Long Flights:

The Jabra Elite 85h impresses me with noise cancellation that rivals top models from Bose and Sony. The adjustable ANC lets you fully block out engine noise or pipe in ambient sound in transparency mode.

With over 36 hours of battery per charge, you can go multiple flights before needing to recharge. I like being able customize the warm, well-balanced sound profile via the Jabra Sound+ app too.

While a bit bulky, the around-ear design stays comfortable thanks to the soft memory foam cushions. For the features, the Elite 85h deliver excellent performance for hundreds less than premium competitors.

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights image 11

Skullcandy Crusher Evo

+ Pros:

  • Powerful haptic bass you can feel
  • Sturdy and durable design
  • Good passive noise isolation
  • 40+ hour battery life
  • Built-in tile tracking

- Cons:

  • Sensory bass can get tiring
  • Bulky and heavy
  • Lacks active noise cancellation

Short Description: 

The Skullcandy Crusher Evo are wireless over-ear headphones with Bluetooth connectivity and adjustable haptic bass that you can physically feel, providing a sensory audio experience.

Why It's a Good Choice for Long Flights:

If you want explosive bass that rumbles your skull, the aptly named Crusher Evo headphone deliver. The adjustable haptic bass vibrates the drivers, letting you feel each thump and drop.

This sensory immersion paired with the noise isolation of the closed-back design helps block out plane engines. You also get 40+ hours of battery life and Tile tracking to avoid losing them while traveling.

While the bass-heavy sound profile isn't for everyone, EDM fans will love the physical bass experience from the Crusher Evo headphones on long flights.

Maximize Your In-Flight Listening with These Expert Headphone Tips

You've invested in a quality pair of noise-canceling or noise-isolating headphones to survive those long haul flights. But simply having the right headphones is only half the battle - you need to use them correctly to optimize comfort and sound quality high up in the skies.

As a frequent flyer and audiophile, I've learned some key tips over the years for avoiding issues like ear pain and getting the most out of your headphones at 35,000 feet:

Choose the Right Eartips for In-Ear Models

For in-ear buds like the Apple AirPods Pro, it's crucial to pick the correct sized eartip to create a proper seal in your ear canal. This prevents audio from leaking out, maximizes noise isolation, and reduces ear discomfort.

Most earbuds come with small, medium, and large sized eartips. Try each size and choose the one that feels most secure and comfortable when worn. You want a snug fit without pain or pressure. Having properly fitted eartips makes a world of difference in flight.

Use Comply Foam Tips for Extra Comfort

While silicone tips mold to your ear canal, foam eartips like Comply provide even better noise isolation along with lasting comfort on long trips. The foam expands to fill your ear and softens contact points.

If the standard eartips irritate your ears, swap them out for foam tips to fly in blissful silence and comfort. Just be sure to swap them out monthly as foam tips degrade with use.

Adjust Headband Tension Properly

Whether you have on-ear or over-ear headphones, make sure the headband is not clamping too tightly on your head. This can lead to discomfort or even headaches during extended wear.

Most headbands have adjustable tension - find the setting that lightly hugs your head without compressing too firmly. Periodically adjust the fit in flight as needed.

Carry Spare Earpads

On very long multi-leg trips, your ears can get irritated from extended headphone use. If this occurs, try swapping the stock earpads for a fresh replacement pair.

Many headphones let you remove and replace the earpads. Keeping spare earpads in your carry-on bag lets you quickly swap them out for new padding against your ears. It's an easy way to revitalize comfort.

Best 10 Headphones for Long Flights - image 12

Keep Ears Clean Before and After Flights

Dirty ear canals are more prone to pain and discomfort from in-ear headphones. Use an over-the-counter ear cleaning solution regularly to wash away excess earwax and debris.

After flights, clean your ears to avoid compacting earwax deeper into your canals over time. Keeping your ears fresh makes continuous headphone use more comfortable.

Apply Moisturizer to Avoid Dryness

On flights longer than 8 hours, the low humidity in the cabin can dry out your ear canals. This exacerbates discomfort from having earbuds or headphones pressed against your ears for extended periods.

Applying a thin layer of moisturizer to your outer ears before insertion helps combat dryness. Reapply lotion during breaks in your audio listening to stay comfortable.

With these headphone tips in mind, you can survive those endurance-testing long haul flights with entertainment and comfort at hand. No more ear pain at 35,000 feet! What other headphone tricks have you learned from your travels? Let me know in the comments.


What type of headphones are best for flying?

For air travel, you'll generally want over-ear or in-ear headphones that either actively cancel noise or passively isolate it. Full-size noise-canceling headphones provide the most dramatic reduction in ambient cabin noise. In-ear buds don't cancel as much noise, but are more portable. On-ear headphones are also very compact for travel. Any of these headphone types can work well with sufficient noise isolation or cancellation tech built-in.

Are noise cancelling headphones worth it for flights?

Yes, active noise cancelling headphones are absolutely worth the investment if you fly frequently or want to eliminate the loud droning jet engine sounds in flight. Quality noise-canceling models like the Treblab Z2 or Sony WH-1000XM5 practically eliminate all ambient noise, letting you relax or focus on undisturbed entertainment. For occasional travelers, budget noise-canceling headphones can provide decent noise reduction for much less.

Should I use wired or wireless headphones on a plane?

For the broadest compatibility, wired headphones that connect via a standard 3.5mm audio jack are your best bet for in-flight entertainment systems. However, most planes these days also offer Bluetooth connectivity for wireless headphones. So wireless noise-canceling models can be very convenient if you don't want to be tethered to the seatback display. Just be sure your headphones are charged up. For the very best sound quality, wired headphones are still ideal.

Are earbuds or headphones better for flying?

This depends on your priorities - over-ear headphones generally provide better noise cancellation and audio performance, while in-ear buds are much more portable and compact for travel. Earbuds allow you to easily hear ambient announcements, chat with your neighbor, or sip drinks without removing your headphones. But large over-ear models block out more surrounding distractions. Try to choose a pair with maximum noise isolation based on your preferred style.

Do headphones protect ears when flying?

Yes, by reducing or cancelling the ambient noise levels of jet engines and the cabin, headphones and earbuds prevent those sounds from damaging your hearing over time. Listening at a moderate volume through headphones is far safer for your ears than being exposed to the prolonged very loud background noise during flights. But always keep the volume at reasonable levels.

How do I keep my headphones comfortable on a long flight?

Try to choose lightweight headphones with soft padding that creates minimal contact pressure on your ears and head. Adjust the headband so it is secure but not too tight. Use properly sized eartips for earbuds. Carry spare pads and cleaners in case your ears get irritated. Apply moisturizer to avoid dryness. Take occasional breaks from wearing your headphones to give your ears a rest.

What else can I bring on a flight to use with headphones?

A good headphone amplifier will provide extra volume if you need it. Noise cancelling headphone adapters are available to add noise reduction to any wired headphones. And premium audio players like the Astell&Kern provide an upgraded listening experience compared to just using your phone.


When buckling in for long haul flights, having a quality pair of headphones is absolutely essential. As we've covered, the right headphones allow you to immerse in silent entertainment, relax and sleep, or simply protect your hearing as the miles fly by.

The good news is that you can find excellent options whether you prefer in-ear or over-ear styles, need active noise cancellation or passive isolation, or want premium sound or budget savings.

For all-out noise reduction, the pioneering Bose QuietComfort 45 set the standard. For customizable sound and sleek style points, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 impresses. If you want incredible audio fidelity, the wired Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT delivers. And frequent flyers love the Apple AirPods Max seamless integration with their devices.

On the budget-friendly side, models like the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 provide surprisingly good active noise cancellation for low cost. And the TREBLAB Z2 punch above their weight with great noise cancellation, sound and battery life at under $100.

While testing headphones in the skies, keep comfort top of mind along with your audio priorities. Use the proper on-ear or in-ear fit and packing tips outlined here. Traveling in silence makes all the difference up there at 35,000 feet.

No matter your preferences, following the advice in this guide will help you survive long flights with your sanity (and hearing) intact. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the friendly skies in peace with your headphones of choice. Have safe travels!

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