Airplane Mode and Bluetooth Flight Rules

If airplane mode is in effect while taking off or landing, can I still use Bluetooth to connect with my hearing aids at that time.? I may be getting hearing aids soon, and just wanted to know whether airlines pose restrictions on this… Does airplane mode immobilize Bluetooth?

George R.

Just put my Oticon Opn into airplane mode. It appears to shut off Bluetooth in the aids. Also consider your other devices (phone, tablet, etc.) will also be in airplane mode.

Abarsanti: I’d be interested to know if between-HA communication still happens. Like maybe if you get tone feedback when you press a volume button and maybe you hear the tone in both sides then go into airplane mode…do you still hear the tone on both sides?

Yes - I still hear volume and program changes in both aids while in airplane mode.

I should point out that Hearing Aids are specifically exempted from FAA prohibitions on electronic devices.

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I’m no lawyer and I only took a few minutes to look but…
Yes hearing aids are exempt but if you have a bluetooth radio in them then that feature is not required for hearing for safety. And it’s a radio and so does that radio need to be turned off? But no I couldn’t find specifics in my somewhat brief search.

OP: I seem to think that the purpose of Airplane Mode in hearing aids is to turn off the bluetooth radio. The HA’s can still do what they need to do for your safety.

The rule is clear (at least in the US or on US-certified carriers. Hearing aids are unconditionally exempt. You may need to turn off your phone or whatever you have streaming to them, but there’s no need to turn off the aids (or any feature on them).

Interesting then that looking at the manual for the OPN that they expressly say to go into Airplane Mode for those times that you’re not supposed to be using radios.
They also say unless the carrier doesn’t require it turned off. So from what I could find yes unconditional is a good word. And really it’s such minimal power but that’s getting into opinion.

The carrier is given discretion for deciding what electronics to allow HOWEVER certain things like hearing aids and pacemakers are exempt from even that.

In my VERY limited experience with both smartphones and aids, I’m surprised to see the BT included in the “airplane mode” discussion.

My LG phone, running Android 4.4, has 4 SEPARATE toggle switches in ‘Settings’ for airplane mode, wi-fi, Bluetooth, and mobile data.

In a way though I guess if the non-HA bluetooth device has to be “off” then your HA’s aren’t connecting to anything anyway and so why bother taking the tiny bit of power that the radio would be using waiting to connect to something.
The Airplane Mode of the HA’s is just turning off the bluetooth radio. As per Abarsanti above (thanks) the HA’s still do their own communications.

Streaming and gateway devices should be turned off … my Starkey devices have instructions for “airplane” mode. However, I doubt many people actually shut their phones off so who knows.

grantb5: Well yes you’re right. I guess I should’ve been more clear and said airplane mode for all radio devices. But as we’ve learned HA’s don’t NEED to be touched.

I do shut off my phone. I don’t want to be the one to be responsible for a malfunction on the plane. I don’t feel it’s unreasonable to ask for shut down of phones and at the very least use of airplane mode. my hearing aids still function well with my phone shut down.

I do too, but mainly because they asked (rather than believing it would actually matter). The jerk beside me doesn’t even blink and keeps on with his texts as long as he can get service. And all those landing and taking off YouTube videos? Makes you wonder if you and I are the only ones shutting them off.

My own verrrrrrry frustrating experience here: last fall, I was already boarded on a full flight leaving Albany NY. The pilot informed us that we’d need to deplane due to repairs. I had mere hours to call the hotel and cancel or I’d have been billed for a no-show.

So I got on my cell phone asap - NOT in airplane mode! Dang aids would not pair with the dang phone the entire time I was seated on the plane. The minute I got off the plane and into the terminal, they paired flawlessly and immediately. So call me clueless!

It appears that whether your aids are in Airplane mode or NOT, the bluetooth capability may be blocked by some kind of feature on the plane itself. If anyone out there has any insight as to what’s going on, chime in!

At the most, Bluetooth has a range of only 10 meters 30 feet. And, as you all know from experience, walls, furniture etc. can really degrade that distance. This is a nonissue.

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