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I bring my wireless headphones everywhere I go. Even when I'm not jamming to music, a Bluetooth connection is convenient for watching movies and TV shows from my laptop or phone without the hassle of a cord.
I was a late adopter of Bluetooth, because I stubbornly thought wireless audio could be nowhere near as good as my "Hi-Fi" earbuds. Then I purchased Sony's excellent WH-1000XM2 wireless, noise-cancelling headphones after being swayed by glowing reviews, and I haven't looked back since.
But when I stepped onto an airplane traveling from New York to Germany, I quickly realized that wireless headphones have a serious limitation. That seat-back infotainment system that keeps you from losing your mind during long-haul flights doesn't support Bluetooth. So if your wireless headphones don't have a 3.5mm headphone jack, or your forgot to bring your cord, then you're out of luck.
At least, you were until premium audio company RHA released its Wireless Flight Adapter, a pocket-sized gadget that adds Bluetooth to any in-flight infotainment system. The folks at RHA were kind enough to send me one of the devices to test out. After using it on one flight, I'll never fly anywhere without it.
The adapter is great for wireless headphones but even more important for Bluetooth earbuds, which don't support a wired connection. When you're not flying, the adapter can be used to add a wireless audio connection to gadgets, like a Nintendo Switch or an old music player, that lack such a connection.
The Wireless Flight Adapter is extremely easy to use. Press the power button on the side, and the adapter will start looking for the nearest Bluetooth device. I was afraid the adapter would fail to find the correct device when I tried pairing it in an overcrowded LaGuardia Airport terminal. But it picked out the WH-1000XM3 headphones hanging around my neck on the first try. A tiny LED on the side of the adapter conveniently told me when the pairing was successful and assured me that there was enough battery life for the duration of my flight.
The rest is simply plug and play. Once I sat down on my Delta flight, I fished the tiny, AirPod-case-shaped adapter out of my pocket, flipped down the 3.5mm headphone jack and plugged it into the infotainment screen in front of me. My headphones instantly connected to the adapter when I turned them on, and the flight safety video magically played out of my headphones, no wires needed.
I watched the movie Luce (strongly recommended) using RHA's nifty gadget to link my wireless headphones with the seat-back screen, and the movie sounded great. Voices were as loud and clear as if I had been wired, and I didn't experience any signal loss, even with rough turbulence making me instinctively grip my armrest until my knuckles turned white. Most importantly, the adapter's aptX codec support ensured that there was no delay between what I was watching and hearing.
The RHA Wireless Flight Adapter packs all the right specs. It uses the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard, lasts for 16 hours on a charge and conveniently charges via a USB-C port. The small device is extremely lightweight (to the point of feeling hollow) but has room for both a single 3.5mm jack and a dual 3.5mm jack for plugging into older airplanes.
RHA sells the Wireless Flight Adapter for $50. That's not cheap, but this really is the best type of gift: one the person didn't think they needed but won't be able to live without.
Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.