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Flying was never the most stress-free way to travel, but thanks to never-ending airline delays, unruly passengers, and the incredible shrinking airline seat, it’s become a nightmare. If you’ve decided it’s finally time to invest in a quality pair of noise-canceling headphones for flying, especially with Black Friday just around the corner, we’ve got you covered.
The good news is that plenty of headphones, from over-ear headphones to wireless earbuds, offer active noise cancellation. And in 2023, it’s not too hard to find ANC headphones cost under $100. Of course, Black Friday headphone deals also help with saving you some serious cash on more premium options from Sony, Bose, and Apple. Typically, each of these brands will drop prices for shopping holidays, so we’re expecting more of the same this year (and hoping the new Bose QuietComfort Ultras get a bit of markdown). So far for Black Friday 2023, the Sony WH-1000XM5s have dropped down $75, and the Bose 700 headphones have dropped $120.
Even so, if you want to find the best noise-canceling headphones for airplanes, you should be prepared to pay $200 to $500. Premium headphones offer improved active noise cancellation and transparency modes that allow you to hear those all-important gate announcements.
Let’s not forget that ANC on its own won’t save the day — otherwise, we’d just direct you to our review of the best noise-canceling headphones. For long flights, comfort is also key. It won’t matter if your headphones block sound if you only want to wear them for two out of five hours of your flight. A few extra features — like balanced sound and spatial audio — can’t hurt either.
With all that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best headphones for flying based on our extensive hands-on testing.
Because shopping for headphones shouldn’t be as stressful as heading to the airport, we’ve answered every question you need to know before purchasing. Read on for essential info as well as the very best noise-canceling headphones for flying in 2023.
Does paying more really get me more noise cancellation?
Generally, yes. Many cheap headphones claim to offer “noise-canceling” features, but a $50 pair of over-ear headphones will never compare to Sony noise-canceling headphones. Typically, the more you pay and the better known and regarded the brand is, the better the noise cancellation. Brands like Bose and Sony offer multiple levels of noise cancellation so you can choose to be completely blocked off from the world or opt to allow some environmental noises to come in while flying.
Paying more can also get you some nice features to supplement your ANC, like voice assistant support, expansive battery life, advanced codec support for better-sounding music, or better call quality. If you’re a frequent flyer, the cost is almost certainly worth it.
What are the best noise-canceling headphones for flying?
Noise-canceling headphones are at their most useful on airplanes. While flying, it’s difficult to find a moment’s peace when so much is going on around you. Frequent flyers may prefer to rest or work, and the best way to do this is by using the best noise-cancellation methods to block out the chaos.
With that in mind, some headphones’ ANC works best on blocking out people talking more than ambient engine sounds, and vice versa, and people will have different preference levels for how much ANC they actually like. In addition, for long-haul flights, you may also be interested in the best noise-canceling headphones for sleeping
With all that in mind, we’ve included the best ANC headphones for every traveler. So, read on to find the best noise-canceling headphones for airplanes in 2023 — all based on Mashable’s in-depth and hands-on headphones reviews.