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On a flight with Air Transat, passengers were informed that for use in the in-flight entertainment system, only earbud style earphones were permitted.

I ignored this and used my on-ear style earphones (I hate earbud style earphones), and the cabin crew did not tell me to take them off. I could still clearly hear announcements, and in any case, those announcements could be transmitted through the audio of the in-flight entertainment system, so being unable to hear important ambient sounds does not seem a reasonable motivation.

Why would only earbud style earphones be permitted? Is this rule common and commonly enforced?

  • If that rule applies only with in-flight entertainment system, the reason cannot be related to whether announcements are heard. – mouviciel Sep 21 '16 at 9:18
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The reason is probably that at least cheaper on-ear headphones leak much more sound than earbuds or better, closed on-ear headphones. It can be quite annoying to sit beside someone using such headphones with the volume turned up.

Instead of arguing in each case over which headphones are acceptable and which are not, the airline likely forbids on-ear headphones generally. If you used some, but didn't disturb any, the flight attendants had no reason to ask you to refrain from the usage.

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