Why Do Airplane Headphones Have Two Jacks?


If you have ever taken a flight, you would have probably noticed that airplane headphones have two jacks. Like other people, you would be curious to know the reason for that. Of course, this is why this article has been created. We shall examine the reasons for this, the pros and cons of these headphones, and other interesting topics concerning headphones and airplanes.

Why Do Airplane Headphones Have Two Jacks?

Airplane headphones have two jacks majorly because of redundancy. If a headphone has an issue, the communication will break and you will not enjoy anything you are listening to. Therefore, to avoid this issue, there are two jacks, just change to the other one when you discover that the first one is having an issue. You can get more opinions on this issue on Quora

The Essence Of Two Jacks In An Airplane Headphones

It is important to know the essence of two jacks in Airplane Headphones. There are three major reasons why there are two jacks. The first reason for this could be accrued to avoidance of theft of the headphones. Though it might sound somehow, it is simply the truth. To prevent people from stealing headphones in the airplanes, airlines thought of providing two jacks. Every airplane has two jacks for their headphones from inception; it was only after a few years that those airlines began to charge passengers for them.

During those periods, mobile and portable headphones were not really in vogue. Therefore, to avoid stealing these headphones, airplanes were designed with a two jacks setup that was different from the ones other audio systems are using. Even though stealing may not necessarily happen now, airplanes have continued to use two jacks for their headphones.

Secondly, two jacks were set up to avoid redundancy. We are aware of the fact that if any of the three internal connections in a headphone jack breaks, there will be a problem with the audio either on the left or right channels. To avoid breakage in audio when you are on an airplane, airplanes are designed with two jacks. As a result of this, if one breaks, you will switch to the other one. In other words, the breakage of any connections will not stop you from having a good time on the airplane. Notably, the two channels have the same function.

Though it is sometimes referred to as a reminder of the past, this is because planes that have been upgraded now have inflight entertainment (IFE). Therefore, this allows passengers to connect their headphones to the standard stereo jack on the airplane.

The third reason is not as strong as the previous two reasons. It is believed that some airlines are not keeping up with the changes happening around the world. During those previous periods, airplanes are designed with a pneumatic headphone. In this current time, it has been upgraded to 3.5mm jack which is now regarded as the standard jack for every headphone audio connection for IFEs.

Also, those kinds of headphones are believed to have been made in a way in which hollow tubes can be plugged into the armrest. This will allow the actual soundwaves to come out. Although it is assumed that it is more reliable than the standard electrical system and also very cheap in terms of replacement. On a pneumatic system, there are two separate plugs, one for the right channel and the other for the left channel. The armrest was also designed to have two holes for audio. Therefore, airlines retained the same pattern of two jacks after shifting from the old pattern to electrical audio signals.

Can You Use A Personal Headphone?

People who are about to take a flight for the first time are always curious to ask this question. The simple answer is yes. You can use a personal headphone on a plane but only on a plane with two jacks. When you use your headphones, you would only get access to one audio channel.  This means that you would hear only from one ear. In some cases, if you can slightly pull the jack out, you may hear sounds on the two ears. 

When you want to use a personal headphone on an airplane, ensure you listen to the announcement made concerning the devices you can connect the headphone to. All these instructions are important, so adhere to them for the sake of everyone’s safety.

Can You Connect Your Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones?

There is something that you may not know. In most airplanes, the essence of the second jack is mainly to serve as a source of electrical power for noise-canceling headphones. Most airplanes have the 3.5mm jack. In the two-jack configuration, one of the jack is for the stereo channel. In some airplanes, if you are flying on first-class or business, some airplanes have this as a part of their passenger amenity kit.

Note that passengers are to return the kits. But in case you have personal noise-canceling headphones, you only need a 2-prong jack adapter in your headset pack. You will connect the 2-prong jack adapter with the airplane headphone jack and start enjoying great audio quality.

Also, it is believed that the reason for its existence in an airplane is for noise-canceling headphones. 

How Do You Use A Headphone Inside Airplane?

As explained earlier, you can use a personal headphone on an airplane. If you want to use a personal headphone on an airplane, you need to keep to some certain instructions.

The first instruction is that the passengers on an airplane are allowed to use portable electronic devices such as tablets, e-readers, mobile phones, and laptops. However, you must set them to flight mode if you want to use them.

Secondly, in some situations, the cabin may restrict the connection of small portable electronic devices such as e-books, mobile phones, etc to earphones and charging lines during periods such as take-off, landing, and descent. This is for safety purposes.

What Are The Best Set Of Active Noise Cancelling Headphones That You Can Use On An Airplane?

It will be more informative to recommend a few sets of active noise-canceling headphones that can be useful on an airplane. Here are few which you can go for;

Bose QuietComfort 15 headphone

Bose QuietComfort 15 headphone is one of the best headphones that you can use while you are on an airplane. It filters ambient noise sometimes. This headphone has some special features that make it unique. It shows the level of progress that has been made in the aspect of noise reduction technology. With this headphone, you are assured of less noise and music. The sound quality is good. Not just that, it is comfortable for use. It has a wire for connection. It has a 3.5mm jack. Its warranty is a year. It has microphones. 

Is There Any Harm?

First of all, you do not need to get yourself worried. There is no difference between using a headphone on the ground and the flight as long as you are permitted to make use of it. Although there are few restrictions such as not using a transmitting device during landing and take-off. At those specified periods instructions will be given by the cabin crew. 

For the safety purpose of everyone inside an airplane, make sure you listen to every bit of announcement that will be given to you concerning the use of headphones on a plane. Ensure you switch all your devices to airplane mode when you are on an airplane before you start using it. The essence of this is to ensure that there is nothing like radio interference while on the airplane from phones, tablets, etc. When there is no radio interference, there will be good communication between the pilot and the crew. 

Devices that use WiFi and Bluetooth can affect the radio signal. Some airplanes do ban the use of Bluetooth devices. Some airplanes do restrict it to Bluetooth devices that are not attached to phones. Therefore it is expected of you to keep to every bit of instruction to avoid any problem.

In conclusion, the two jacks on an airplane are not for fashion, as discussed above. They are majorly designed to avoid redundancy. This design enables passengers to easily switch to the other jack when there is an issue with the first one. Besides, you can board an airplane with your headphone as long you are with the 3.5mm jack in your headphone pack. It is more advisable to come with noise-canceling headphones while taking a flight. Whatever you do, don’t neglect all safety instructions.

Rune Bearson

As you can see, I love my headphones! I use them every day when commuting, watching YouTube videos, playing guitar/piano and doing chores. I'm a podcast addict and I like all kinds of music from metal to chillout ambient.

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