The Rules on Using Bluetooth on an Airplane
Flying's hard enough. Having access to devices that make it more comfortable is a wonderful thing, and many of those devices – such as wireless earbuds, smart watches and wireless keyboards – depend on bluetooth technology. In 2013, the FAA gave its approval for airplane passengers to use bluetooth devices. It's up to each airline to set its own rules regarding bluetooth use, but don't worry about your beloved high-quality headphones being banished to the overhead compartment. Most airlines allow passengers to use bluetooth devices during flight.
Where Different Airlines Land on Bluetooth Use
Major American airlines usually allow passengers to use bluetooth devices throughout a flight, but they don't all specifically address bluetooth use in their policies. Carriers such as JetBlue, Southwest and Delta tell travelers that they may use wireless accessories like bluetooth headphones and keyboards during flight as long as any cellular service is deactivated. However, don't expect to use bluetooth devices that connect to a tablet or laptop during takeoff or landing. These electronics have to be stowed and turned off at the beginning and ending of a flight.
International airlines have their own rules. British Airways allows passengers to use bluetooth devices during flight but not during taxiing, takeoff or landing. Air Canada allows bluetooth headphones, but only once the plane has reached at least 10,000 feet and only if the battery is removable. The carrier won't allow a passenger to use a wireless mouse at all. Lufthansa allows travelers to use bluetooth headphones during the entire flight, even during takeoff and landing.
Using Bluetooth Devices in Flight
Even if the airline allows passengers to use bluetooth devices during flight, be mindful of the fact that using cellular data is still forbidden. Bluetooth devices and the electronics you connect them to must be switched to airplane mode. If switching the device to airplane mode doesn't allow you to connect via bluetooth, manually turning off cellular service might be a workable alternative.
Also keep in mind that traveling with bluetooth headphones won't allow you to connect to the airplane's entertainment system, if it has one. These headphones also run on battery power. If the battery dies before the flight ends, you might be stuck sitting in silence. Stash a pair of cheap wired earbuds in your carry-on bag to use during flight; then switch back to high-quality wireless headphones once you're back on the ground.
Beware of Future Changes
Airline policies about using electronics in flight change over time as technology changes. And like all airline policies, the rules for using bluetooth capability during flight are subject to change at any time. Assume your bluetooth devices are allowed, but ask a flight attendant for specific guidance if you're unsure.