Picture it: you’ve just boarded your first long flight to a faraway destination post-COVID. While you’re certainly out of practice, you make it to your seat, successfully find a spot for your carry-on luggage, and take off with an imagination full of what you’re going to do when you land. Only a few hours of flying time between you and vacation bliss.
Once you’re at cruising altitude, you find your favorite movie on the airplane TV. Then like a total newb, you realize that you have no choice but to succumb to the free airplane headphones because you don’t have a pair of wired headphones, and the airplane TV doesn’t have Bluetooth. Those few hours of flying time suddenly feel a whole lot longer, and now screaming babies, small talk with your estranged seat partner, or really sore ears (trust me, those airline headphones are a lot more uncomfortable than you remember) are part of your journey.
This is my post-COVID flight story. A few weeks after (what felt like) the longest flight of my life, this AirFly Bluetooth connection gadget that can connect AirPods to the audio on airplane TVs was popping up all over my TikTok For You Page. It’s no mystery that TikTok has a way of making a product you never knew existed seem absolutely necessary, but this one takes the cake. It’s as if TikToker @megbagines was taunting me personally with her caption choice, which read, “Noise Cancellation AirPods + AirFly = Heaven✨.” My flight was not heaven. Don’t be like me. I haven’t flown yet since, but I’ve got some travel coming up this summer, and you better believe the AirFly (which I added to my cart immediately after seeing @megbagines‘ video—it’s available on Amazon) is the first thing on my packing list.
We all remember the shock of Apple removing standard 3.5mm headphone jacks from iPhones when they released AirPods. Since then, a whole market of Bluetooth headphone adapters has emerged. While there are plenty of options out there, the AirFly is without a doubt the best option for connecting AirPods to airplane TVs or any other non-Bluetooth compatible or outdated device (seriously—this thing is so good, even Apple sells it directly on their website). It works with any Bluetooth device (not just AirPods), it can connect with up to two sets of headphones at the same time so multiple people can watch and listen to the same device, and it comes in a sleek, compact white case with curved edges that closely resembles AirPods.
To pair the AirFly with your AirPods, toggle the pairing setting located on the side of the AirFly to TX (TX is the pairing setting for transmitting devices like airplanes, gaming systems, and headphones; RX is the pairing setting for receiving devices like car audio systems, wired speakers, and smartphones or tablets). Then press down the main center button on the front of the AirFly until the small white light above the button starts blinking, indicating it’s in pairing mode. Next, open your AirPods case, leave the AirPods inside, and press the button on the back of the AirPods case until the white light on the front of the AirFly is solid white—that means they’re paired. TikToker @megbagines shows a quick demo of the pairing process in the video below.
While the AirFly is great for zoning out while flying, there are a ton of other cases where it comes in handy, too. Since it can connect to two sets of headphones at the same time, it’s great for anyone who regularly watches content from one device with multiple people or for parents with kids who share devices and don’t want to constantly hear the iPad playing out loud. It is also compatible with gaming devices like the Nintendo Switch, so you can play discreetly without remembering to bring wired headphones. And it can connect your phone audio to any non-Bluetooth compatible device like your car’s speakers, shared gym equipment, or home stereo systems, as long as there is a headphone jack or auxiliary port. It has a 16-hour battery life, a USB-C charging port, and is functional while charging.
The AirFly costs less than $60, and if you’ve recently had an experience like mine, your next flight is going to feel like first-class in comparison.
Heath Owens is a commerce writer and editor at Hearst Magazines, where he covers fashion, home, tech, gifts and more.