I know that questions about Bluetooth seem to be common-place, but my question is less about usage and more just carrying them on in my carry on. Therefore I hope this question does not get marked as a duplicate.

I own a fairly chunky Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Pair which I plan to put in it's carry case and then put into my carry on luggage. I have no intention of using them during the flight itself as I prefer listening to all the plane noises.

Will this be alright to go through Heathrow Security in my carry on luggage? I don't have any other type of luggage on my flight so I'm scared the nightmare scenario might be I have to lose a £200 pair of headphones if I'm not allowed to carry them in.

  • 9
    There is no reason to worry about being allowed to carry them on. But there is a very good rule of thumb for taking anything while traveling. If you can not stand to lose it, leave it (safely) home.
    – Willeke
    Nov 17 '18 at 12:30
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    Top tip from personal experience. Don't wrap them around an alarm clock and a book in your carry-on luggage.
    – Valorum
    Nov 17 '18 at 16:53
  • 2
    This sounds like a very nice story in the coming, @Valorum. I once traveled with a big plastic item (a Pink Panther figurine) which, for some reason, looked just like plastic explosive on their screens. Fun times at security.
    – AnoE
    Nov 17 '18 at 23:05

I (and many other travellers) regularly wear battery-powered bluetooth headphones on flights out of Heathrow (and many other airports). If you take a look around the cabin on any longhaul flight you will see numerous people wearing QC-35s.

These kinds of premium noise cancelling headphones are specifically designed for air travel.

If you want to be sure you can cross reference the size of the internal battery (if it's a lithium ion battery) with the maximum permitted lithium ion battery, but it's going to be far less than a laptop battery (and laptop batteries are typically close to the upper limit permitted). What security worries about with battery sizes is those large external battery packs; small devices with batteries in them do not get a lot of scrutiny. Other things to be cautious about with electronics is if you've modified the electronics in any obvious way, or if you have wires sticking out, security doesn't like that sort of thing.

For the best security experience, put your electronic devices separately on the tray --- at Heathrow they can stay in their cases but it's a good idea to put electronics apart from each other, with a bit of space, flat on the tray (not stacked atop each other or deep in a bag mixed with chargers and other wiring), so that on the xray it's easy to see what the individual electronic items are. If you need to use more trays, that's better than trying to squeeze everything onto one tray and the xray operator getting confused.

  • 2
    Since typical laptop batteries are allowed, I can't imagine any pair of headphones would have a lithium ion battery with a capacity that exceeds the limits; the small battery in headphones have a fraction of the capacity of a laptop battery. Nov 18 '18 at 5:16

There's no reason at all that you can't take these on the plane. If there's some specific thing you're worried about, it might be one of the following.

  • Restrictions on the use of wireless devices on planes. You might be asked not to use wireless devices during take-off and landing; it's fine to use something like Bluetooth during the rest of the flight, since it's a very low-power signal. Many flights now have wifi in the cabin, for example. Note that you're not allowed to use your cellphone's cellular service on flights, but it's never been forbidden to bring the phone itself into the cabin.

  • Restrictions on lithium batteries. The batteries in your headphones aren't nearly high-enough capacity to cause issues, here. They only start to kick in with unusually large laptop batteries, powerbanks and the batteries that come in devices such as mobility scooters and hoverboards.

Indeed, you have nothing to worry about even if you do want to use the headset during the flight. This article from USA Today is primarily aimed at the American market but gives non-US examples of airlines allowing bluetooth during cruise.

I have no intention of using them during the flight itself as I prefer listening to all the plane noises.

I'm guessing you don't fly much and possibly haven't flown before? 🙂

Honestly, the "plane noises" are mostly just loud-ish white noise from the constant drone of the engines and the constant whoosh of air past the plane. Especially during cruise, there really is nothing worth hearing. For hour after hour. Sure, during take-off and landing, there's a little bit to hear (the change in power from the engines, the gear being raised and lowered and so on) but in cruise, there's nothing. I find that, after a transatlantic flight I arrive feeling much fresher if I've used noise-cancelling headphones to dramatically reduce the volume of noise in the cabin.

  • Huh, I flew Cathay Pacific about ten years ago and their safety video specifically asked for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices to be switched off throughout the entire flight.
    – gparyani
    Nov 17 '18 at 15:34
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    @gparyani Things have changed a lot in the last ten years. Many airlines now actually provide their own in-flight wifi. Cathay will provide it fleetwide by 2020, although I haven't seen much sign of it yet. Bluetooth is usage is also just not a problem.
    – Calchas
    Nov 17 '18 at 16:26
  • 2
    @Calchas Virgin Atlantic didn't provide it, but then all of a sudden started providing it. I'm guessing they were gradually installing it but keeping it disabled, then they all of a sudden enabled it on their entire fleet. I think Cathay's doing the same. A lot has changed in ten years.
    – gparyani
    Nov 17 '18 at 16:36
  • Huh? Thee are 1000 plane noises. For instance if you paid no other attention whatsoever, you'll know you're on an Airbus when the dogs start barking :) Nov 17 '18 at 18:45
  • @Harper On the ground, sure. During cruise, no. Nov 17 '18 at 18:46

Yes, they are allowed to carry them on. They will be treated like every other electronic device at the terminal entrance (screening).

In the US and my many experiences at LHR, these would not qualify as a 'large electronic device' which is laptops, game consoles etc. You can leave them in your bag unless specifically asked to remove 'any electronic device' which I personally have never seen or heard happen.

You should check with your specific airline as to whether they allowed in flight as different airlines have different policies on wireless devices if you do choose to use them.

  • Definitely worth checking but I'd be interested to know if there are any major airlines that don't allow Bluetooth, these days. Nov 17 '18 at 16:30
  • @DavidRicherby I hear reports of some airlines not allowing cell phones even in airplane mode. This is specifically for the nitpickers who will wrongly downvote because Jovian Air doesn't allow Bluetooth and I'm putting OP at risk for keelhauling for suggesting OP just use it. ;)
    – Johns-305
    Nov 18 '18 at 12:19

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