Whether you’re trying to dodge roaring plane engines or looking for some peace, these noise-canceling headphones are ideal for flying.

The best noise-canceling headphones make traveling so much more pleasant. When you’re flying, you’ll inevitably be confronted by a multitude of unpleasant sounds, from crying babies to the roaring engine of the plane. 

Airplane noise can be tricky to block out which is why we’ve looked at the best noise-canceling headphones for travel rather than just for general use. If you’re a frequent flyer, active noise cancellation makes all the difference to ensure you get the most comfortable flight possible.

Active noise-canceling technology is more accessible than ever nowadays, so it’s easy to find a variety of headphones with the ability to block out nearly all unwanted ambient sound. Many headphones also have the ability to go wireless, sync up with your smart devices, and so much more. It’s a great time to be buying a new set of headphones.

Before you dive in, it’s useful to think about what your budget is and what your needs are. Generally, over-ear headphones provide the best noise cancellation because they close your ears in, providing both physical blocking of sounds and active noise cancellation. However, in-ear solutions are also worth considering too as some of these have increasingly smart features for providing true noise cancellation over merely passively blocking sounds. 

What you decide to go for comes down to what you feel most comfortable with as well as any other features you may want. These can include voice assistant support or multiple levels of noise cancellation when flying. You may also want to consider how great the headphones sound as well, with audiophiles keen to ensure they don’t miss out on excellent sound quality for the sake of good noise cancellation. 

We’ve already rounded up the best headphones in general, along with the best noise-cancelling headphones, and the best wireless headphones for everything else. For now though, we’re focusing on noise-canceling headphones for flying and travel, as well as answering some questions on what you need to know before making a purchase. 

What is noise cancellation?

noise-canceling headphones work by reducing unwanted ambient sounds using active noise control. A microphone captures the ambient sounds before an amplifier generates sound waves out of phase with the unwanted sounds. That way, the music you’re listening to shines through the noises you don’t want to hear such as babies crying, people talking, or general airplane noise. 

Generally, noise cancellation works best with constant droning sounds like a plane engine rather than sharp sounds like voices, but the best noise-canceling headphones still do a good job of blocking these out to some degree. 

Is there a difference between noise cancellation and active noise cancellation?

Some headphones offer passive noise cancellation (also known as noise isolation) rather than Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Instead of using microphones to filter out undesired sounds, these headphones rely on soundproofing by physically blocking outside sounds using the materials they’re made out of. It’s less effective than using a pair of headphones that use Active Noise Cancellation but it does mean there’s less of a strain on battery life. 

Some people also prefer passive noise cancellation as active noise cancellation has been known to make people feel pressure in their ears. When using headphones for travel though, this is less of an issue and also generally something that frequent flyers will learn to live with over excessive noise. 

Does paying more really get me more noise cancellation?

Generally, yes. Many earphones and headphones offer noise cancellation features but they aren’t all the same. Typically, the more you pay and the better known and regarded the brand is, the better the noise cancellation is. Brands like Bose or Sony often offer multiple different levels of noise cancellation so you can choose to be completely blocked off from the world or opt to allow some surrounding noises to come in while flying. 

By paying more, you also gain better features. These can include voice assistant support, expansive battery life, advanced codec support for better-sounding music, or better call quality. If you can, it’s worth spending more on a good pair of noise cancellation headphones, particularly if you’re a frequent flyer.

Do noise-canceling headphones help on airplanes?

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 despite airplane noise distracting them. The best way to do this is by using the best noise cancellation methods to block out what’s going on. 

Do noise-canceling headphones help with flight anxiety?

It depends on why you have flight anxiety. If you hate the idea of being “stuck” on a plane, it might not work as well as if it’s the noises that cause you anxiety. However, by being able to zone out and listen to your favorite music or podcasts, you can forget that you’re on an airplane as you won’t notice you’re flying in the same way as if you hear all the surrounding noises.

Similarly, if you hate flying because of ambient noise like children crying or loud talking, noise-canceling headphones can help hide this away from your ears, meaning you can relax better. With a combination of meditative sounds and music, the best noise-canceling headphones can whisk you away from irritants. Effectively, you can cocoon yourself away from the reminders that you’re traveling.COWIN E7 Active Noise Canceling HeadphonesBest For Shorter TripsCredit: COWINBuying Options$69.99 from Walmart

The COWIN E7 Active Noise Canceling Headphones are professional-grade headphones that can cancel out everything from the hum of an airplane engine to the sounds of a busy city street, delivering you crisp and clear audio. 

The headphones have skin-soft ear cups with 90-degree swiveling capabilities, made for optimal comfort, and all-day wear. They also come in a number of different colors with a price you can’t beat.

They also come equipped with a microphone, allowing you to make voice calls, have Bluetooth and NFC capabilities, and can be used for up to 30 hours without being charged.Sony Noise Canceling Headphones WH1000XM4Best For True AudiophilesCredit: SonyBuying Options$348 from Amazon

Sony Noise Canceling Headphones WH1000XM4 eliminate irritating background noise and utilize smart listening technology to detect activity and automatically adjust accordingly, providing you with a truly customized audio experience.

These headphones also have easy-to-use touch controls to skip tracks, adjust the volume, or take calls – enabled with built-in microphones. They also have a “quick attention” mode activated by covering your right ear cup, which will turn down your headphones’ volume momentarily, if you need to pause your audio for a brief conversation to speak with a travel mate or flight attendant. Plus, you can activate your phone’s voice assistant – Android and iPhone – with just the touch of a button.

A built-in battery also allows users to enjoy their headphones for 30 hours on a single charge.Beats Studio3 Wireless HeadphonesBest For Apple LoyalistsCredit: Beats By Dr. DreBuying Options$349.95 from Amazon

You’ve probably heard Beats’ wireless headphones’ praises sung before — and we’re here to confirm that everything you’ve heard is the truth, especially when you’re talking about the Studio3 headphones.

These sleek headphones fit snugly over your ears and use ANC adaptive technology to drown out background noise, while simultaneously making use of real-time audio calibration for a premium listening experience.

With a 22-hour battery life, you’ll be able to use these bad boys nearly non-stop without charge — and just a 10-minute charge provides you with three full hours of listening time. And if you’re an Apple user, you’ll definitely love these headphones, which are equipped with an Apple W1 chip that features premium Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to activate Siri, take calls, skip songs, and so much more.

The headphones themselves are built to suit all head shapes, with its signature ergonomic pivoting and flexible fit. Its ear cushions are also super soft and breathable thanks to their built-in venting. They also come with a protective hard shell carrying case, so you don’t have to worry about them incurring any serious damage when packing or traveling with them.Sennheiser HD 450 Bluetooth Wireless HeadphonesBest For People Who Don’t Mind A Little BulkCredit: SennheiserBuying Options$199.98 from Best Buy

Bluetooth 4.0 and NoiseGuard technology makes Sennheiser’s headphones intuitive to use and provides powerful and excellent sound quality without any external noise filtering in. NoiseGuard’s active noise-canceling tech blocks all virtually all unwanted ambient sound, whether you’re on the road or in a noisy office.

Near Field Communication also allows for instant pairing of your smart devices, making it easy to access your devices without a lot of fuss. And ear cup-mounted controls make it easy and intuitive to switch up your music, take calls, or lower your headphones’ volume.

The Sennheiser’s simple and elegant, minimalistic design, is created for comfort with super-soft leatherette covered ear pads that make listening to music and watching movies and television for hours easy. They can also be folded up for easy transportation and packing. And you can go wireless for up to 19 hours — up to 25 hours if your NoiseGuard is disabled — with these headphones’ extra-long battery life. Bose 700 Over-ear Noise-canceling HeadphonesBest OverallCredit: BoseSpecs

  • Battery life: Up to 20 hours
  • Bluetooth range: 33 feet
  • App-connected: Yes

Buying Options$399 from Amazon

The Bose 700s are truly magnificent headphones for noise cancellation when flying. They offer 11 levels of active noise cancellation so you can finely tune your experience, blocking out as much or as little as you want. Alongside that, they sound great too with bass strong and mids suitably crisp. When taking calls, the headphones’ microphone ensures the person you’re calling can hear you clearly. 

Other features include built-in voice assistant support so you can easily use Alexa or Google Assistant to look up information or control your headphones. Also, there’s one-touch Spotify support for iOS owners so you can quickly listen to your favorites. Bose QuietComfort 45Best All-RounderCredit: BoseSpecs

  • Battery life: Up to 24 hours
  • Bluetooth range: 30 feet
  • App-connected: Yes

Buying Options$329 from Amazon

The Bose QuietComfort 45 is a supremely comfortable pair of headphones that build on the success of the QC 35. They offer various settings for ensuring you get the right aural experience every time. Tiny mics help measure and react to outside noise, proving useful when dealing with airplane noise and more. An active EQ helps maintain balanced sounds at all times while you can always opt to switch between Quiet Mode or Aware Mode to hear what’s going on. 

Up to 24 hours of battery life is fine if unremarkable but you can always plug them in for 15 minutes to get back 3 hours of charge for when you’re on the move or taking a short flight.Sony WH1000XM4Best Sound QualityCredit: SonySpecs

  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours
  • Bluetooth range: 33 feet
  • App-connected: Yes

Buying Options$349.99 from Amazon

The Sony WH1000XM4 are able to automatically detect the noises around you and balance the sound accordingly. Apparently four times more powerful than the 1000XM2 before them, along with the algorithm from the exceptional 1000XM3 means these are the best noise cancellation headphones from Sony. 

Besides sounding amazing, they offer useful controls too with Quick Attention mode allowing you to hear background noises like announcements without completely stopping your music, with everything sounding fantastic. Voice assistant support, crisp call quality, and a great battery life of up to 30 hours completes the package.Apple AirPods ProBest EarbudsCredit: AppleSpecs

  • Battery life: 4.5 hours (up to 24 hours with charging case)
  • Bluetooth range: 30 to 60 feet
  • App-connected: No

Buying Options$249 from Amazon

Earbuds rarely offer as tight a fit as ANC headphones but the Apple AirPods Pro provide you a good middle ground between the comfort and convenience of earbuds while still offering some ANC protection. While flying light, they won’t take up much room with a small charging case easily secreted in your pocket. A transparency mode allows you to hear outside noise once more with other easy controls on the stem. 

Adaptive EQ and Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking helps music sound more like you’re at a concert, following you around as you move your head. We just wish the battery life wasn’t so dependent on the charging case meaning these won’t be ideal for long journeys.Bowers & Wilkins PX7Best For CustomizationCredit: Bowers & WilkinsSpecs

  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours
  • Bluetooth range: 98 feet
  • App-connected: Yes

Buying Options$399 from Amazon

The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 are designed gorgeously. Sleek yet large, they come with a carrying case that keeps your beloved headphones safe, even if they do fold awkwardly at times. Bowers & Wilkins are a well-known name in speaker technology and that level of expertise shows here as the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 sound powerful with an impressive soundstage effect. Rock music fans will be particularly impressed with the results. 

Alongside that, noise cancellation is great with sensors used so the headphones can adapt to your surroundings. Specific options like flight and city prove super useful for travelers.Anker Soundcore AC NC+Best budget pickCredit: AnkerSpecs

  • Battery life: 11 hours (up to 55 hours with the charging case)
  • Bluetooth range: 40 feet
  • App-connected: Yes

Buying Options$79.99 from Amazon

If you can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars, the Anker Soundcore AC NC+ still offer a fair amount for the price. They’re earbuds so they can’t block out as much noise as headphones but they offer some useful modes to reduce ambient sounds substantially. A choice of indoors, outdoors, or transport helps you choose the noise cancellation you need most, and it’s all simple to adjust. 

They sound good too with Anker generally a reliable mid-range option. Able to filter out background noises on call, they’re pretty useful when on the move. Up to 11 hours of battery life with that increasing to 55 hours with the charging case proves even better for long journeys. Beats Studio 3 Wireless Best Looking Credit: Beats Specs

  • Battery life: Up to 22 hours
  • Bluetooth range: 100 feet
  • App-connected: Yes

Buying Options$349.95 from Amazon

You’ve probably heard praise for Beats wireless headphones — and we’re here to confirm that everything you’ve heard is the truth, especially when you’re talking about the Studio3 headphones.

These sleek headphones fit snugly over your ears and use ANC adaptive technology to drown out background noise, while simultaneously making use of real-time audio calibration for a premium listening experience.

With a 22-hour battery life, you’ll be able to use these Bad boys nearly non-stop without charge — and just a 10-minute charge provides you with three full hours of listening time. 

And if you’re a regular Apple user, you’ll definitely love these headphones, which are equipped with an Apple W1 chip that features premium Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to activate Siri, take calls, skip songs, and so much more.



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