The Best Bose Headphones for Travel | travelhappy tips
Any frequent flyer will tell you that a good pair of earphones (or headphones) is absolutely essential to one’s comfort and happiness on a long-haul flight. I’ve tried three types of Bose headphones over the years: the Bose QuietComfort 35 (over-ear, noise-cancelling); the Bose SoundLink II (over-ear, non-noise-cancelling); and the Bose QuietComfort 20 (in-ear, noise-cancelling).
Get the Bose QuietComfort 35 - Series II ($349). Of the three models I’ve owned personally, my favorite headphone for travel was the Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series I). I also love the wireless-ness of my current model (the Bose SoundLink II). - I wear them all over the house listening to podcasts and audiobooks while doing chores, etc. and it’s just the best. So my recommendation is to get the Bose QuietComfort 35 - Series II ($349) - they’re noise-cancelling, over-ear (comfy!) headphones plus they’re wireless — the best of both worlds.
1. Review of the Bose QuietComfort 35
The Bose QuietComfort 35 over-ear headphones (pictured above in Lufthansa business class) were my favorite: super comfy padded leather on the ears and with great sound quality. The negatives are that the headphones can be bulky when fitting with a neck pillow and eye mask (I did it anyway) and can get uncomfortable on your side when in lie-flat seats or at in bed.
When my pair of QuietComfort 35s died (and the leather started flaking off), I returned them to the Bose store at Ward for a $100 credit or something like that, and I decided to mix it up and try the Bose in-ear noise cancelling headphones.
2. Review of the Bose QuietComfort 20
The Bose QuietComfort 20 (affiliate link) are in-ear headphones, making them more comfortable for sleeping on your side than the over-ear models when in a lie-flat seat (or your hotel bed). That being said, they left my ears a tiny bit sore on very long flights. hese are my husband’s favorite headphones and he doesn’t get sore ears, so maybe my discomfort is purely due to the shape of my ears. Have you read about how the shape of your ears literally affects what you hear? Fascinating!
3. Review of the Bose SoundLink II
I'm now using the Bose around-ear SoundLink II (affiliate link) and I love that they are wireless. The first few flights we took with Jules I had the QuietComfort 20s and tbh it was hard to deal with a lap baby and wired headphones, so I looked for a pair of wireless ones. The SoundLink II are not noise cancelling, but as I mentioned above I already have a pair of in-ear QuietComfort 20s so I felt guilty spending $350 on another pair of Bose headphones. Luckily I found these SoundLink headphones which are still wireless and like $150 cheaper than the QuietComfort noise-cancelling model. They are great, and they come with an analog plug so that you can use the headphones with your in-flight entertainment system. Note that some airlines (like Air Canada) specifically disallow the use of wireless headphones, and more airlines may adopt the same policy. Check your specific airline's website for their rules regarding the use of bluetooth. I was surprised at Air Canada’s announcement, but it was fine because we were in First Class and they give you Bose noise-cancelling headphones to use during the flight.
Travel Tip: Check to see if your airlines requires you to pre-download an app before takeoff in order to utilize their in-flight entertainment system. Alaska and United both use this system, and their apps are straightforward.