hearing loss and dementia
Who is impacted by hearing loss and dementia?
September 3, 2018
learn sign language
Two moms of children with hearing loss create Instagram account to help others learn sign language
September 8, 2018

Ask Anna: Can my hard of hearing child wear headphones on the airplane?

Ask Anna is an advice column for the hearing loss community.

Dear Anna,

We’re taking an airplane to our family vacation and my 6-year-old daughter with mild hearing loss who wears hearing aids will want to watch her tablet. Typically on airplanes, she wants to take off her hearing aids and wear over the ears headphones. Can my hard of hearing child wear headphones on the airplane, or would it be better to have her stream through the ComPilot II or the Roger Select? Why?

Thank you!


Can my hard of hearing child wear headphones

Dear Whitney,

Airplanes are typically quite difficult environments for hearing aid users. There is a constant background noise for the duration of the flight. I know that my work colleague who has a severe to profound hearing loss just switches her hearing aids off when we fly anywhere. She makes sure she sits next to me and lets me do the talking to the stewards.

For your daughter or for anyone with a mild hearing loss wearing headphones without the hearing aids might be just fine. Especially if you invest in a pair of the headphones with noise cancellation built in.

The small headphone sets provided on the aircraft are normally not the best quality and relying on the onboard entertainment is not ideal. Movies on board are great when there are subtitles available but not all airlines provide this. Typically the film is in English with, for example, Spanish subtitles. You usually can’t watch the film in English with English subtitles.

Read more: This is a big accessibility issue for deaf frequent fliers

Streaming directly to hearing aids on the airplane

For children when traveling Using a tablet is one of the best options for children to watch their favorite movies and or games downloaded onto them. This is also great for adults too.

Most hearing aids have some degree of noise suppression built inside them. This includes a cutoff level which prevents noise levels from exceeding their limit. If you child wears Phonak hearing aids, the recommended settings and features that are activated depending on age are all agreed with a pediatric advisory board. The noise cancellation feature is active in the available programs so the hearing aids should sound comfortable when worn on a plane. 

Read more: 7 Tips for Travelling with a Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Child

If hearing aids are used with an accessory like a ComPilot II or Roger Select the signal being streamed to these devices is sent directly to the hearing aids. The surrounding noise is attenuated/reduced so this is also a great way to ensure that the noise is filtered out. For an airplane, I would consider the design of an accessory and make a note of three things. Make sure that the streaming device is fully charged before your trip, can be worn comfortably while flying, and that it is easy to remove and store for going through airport security. 

Wishing you a great holiday


Do you have a question for Anna? Email: feedback@hearinglikeme.com or in the comments below. 

The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Hearing Like Me website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency medical services immediately.
Author Details
Anna is currently the Senior Audiology Manager at Phonak. She has worked in the field of audiology and hearing aids for 25 years, and is passionate about all things audiology.