I am not a frequent flyer.
I don’t get to hang out in the USAirways club, board first, or drink champagne in the front of the plane.
I do, however, travel enough by plane to have invested recently in a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones (QuietComfort 15), and I’m shocked to be writing that they are worth the $299 I plunked down for them at Best Buy.
They really are (almost) as good as they say they are.
And now, after years of silently mocking the travelers who I saw taking out these odd-looking headphones and carefully … almost reverently … putting them on at the start of the flight, I’m one of them.
No shame at all.
In the Best Buy I went to, there is a display where you can try them for yourself — if you can get over the fact that about 1,000 people slid them onto their ears before you put them on yours.
There is a large speaker near your head playing what sounds like a very convincing simulation of airplane noise while you listen to Bach.
You hear none of the airplane noise.
In my own experiences last week flying to (8.25 hours) and from (9 hours) Munich, Germany, I used the headphones nearly the entire time, and sat in blissful quiet during the trip.
Even when you’re not using them to listen to in-flight movies or your own music, you can leave them on your head and turned on — it filtered out about 90% of the engine noise, and they worked so well I could not hear the passenger in the seat next to me when she was talking.
That’s not necessarily a good thing, by the way. You want to be able to hear SOMETHING, but if you close your eyes with the earphones turned on, you will be in blissful near-silence for as long as you like.
I’ll be flying several more times over the next few months, and although it adds a small amount of bulk to my carry-on, I’m bringing them.
The silence is golden.