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This Shop TODAY Travel Gear Award winner lets me use my wireless headphones on planes

Thanks to this cool gadget, I never have to purchase in-flight headphones again.
Courtesy Alexandra Deabler

Flying can be stressful. Anyone who has ever gone through airport security knows this. From figuring out when to take off your shoes to which electronics you need to pull out to whether your snacks can stay snugly in your bag or not — it’s a lot. And that’s all before you even reach your gate.

Needless to say, after carving out two extra hours before takeoff to arrive and shuffle from line to line, you probably just want to breathe and relax once you board the plane. So, when you’re finally in your seat, all buckled up and ready to go, and realize you don’t have the right headphones to connect to your in-flight entertainment system, it can be another box to check on the "reasons to avoid flying" list.

Sure, sometimes airlines give them out, but a few still charge for them. To avoid both the boredom of staring at a seat back for hours and shelling out extra money for outdated technology, we found a solution — a wireless transmitter that connects your Bluetooth headphones to devices that require a 3.5mm jack.

Twelve South AirFly Pro

And before you think it’s too good to be true, or are dubious of the sound or connection strength, deputy editorial director Alexandra Deabler tried the bestselling gadget on a five-hour flight from San Francisco to New York and found that it completely transformed her flying experience. This gadget happens to be a Shop TODAY Travel Gear Award winner, too.

How the AirFly wireless transmitter works

“It’s incredibly simple," said Deabler. "You just have to charge it and then turn it on and connect it via Bluetooth to your headphones, same as you would connect your headphones to your phone or other Bluetooth devices.”

According to the brand, the AirFly Pro has a 16+ hour battery life — a great feature for someone like Deabler, who does a lot of coast-to-coast traveling. It takes two hours to fully charge through an included USB-C cable, but when it gets low on power, the device will alert you by flashing an amber light three times.

“I live in New York, but I’m from California, so I do a fair amount of flying back and forth to see family and friends. Despite this fact, I typically suffer from packing procrastination, so I tend to wait until the last minute for everything and usually forget to download movies on my iPad. This is a problem because I'd only be able to watch movies on the plane, and I don't have headphones with the 3.5mm jack."


Courtesy Alexandra Deabler

What does the AirFly Pro do?

The AirFly Pro connects to most Bluetooth-based wireless headphones, including AirPods (Deabler's earphones of choice), Bose products and Beats. It's also designed for shared listening and can connect to two wireless headphones simultaneously.

“I like how this device lets two people connect at a time," Deabler said. "So, if you downloaded something ahead of time and you and your traveling buddy want to watch it together at the same time, you can, without having to bring a bulky splicer or each share one earbud."

In addition to giving a cordless listening experience, the AirFly Pro also features a Receive Mode (RX) functionality and can be used as an AUX IN adapter, which allows you to send audio from your phone to a car stereo, boat or even a non-Bluetooth speaker.

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“Though I used them on a plane, it's great for other equipment designed for 3.5mm jack headphones," Deabler said about the device's versatility. "I used it while exercising on a treadmill at the gym and also with my TV remote that has a headphone plug-in.”

Hacks like the AirFly Pro can make all the difference when hopping on a flight. Amazon also has a bunch of affordable and top-rated gadgets that can help make travel a breeze.

“Before using the AirFly, I had developed this habit of just putting on movies and trying to read the actors' lips," said Deabler. "But despite this developing skill of mine, it’s exponentially better to watch them with the dialogue and music as intended. Using the AirFly, I was pleasantly surprised by the sound quality and thought the device worked well."