Bose banned! US, UK inflight electronics ban includes headphones

By David Flynn, March 29 2017

Noise-cancelling headphones such as the popular Bose QC series have been banned from flights to the USA and the UK under strict new rules regarding inflight electronics.

A spokesperson for the US Transportation Security Administration has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that any pair of noise-cancelling headphones "larger than the size of a smartphone" will be treated the same as devices such as tablets, laptops and ebook readers under sweeping security regulations introduced last week in the USA and the UK.

The inflight electronics ban decrees that all electronic devices larger than a smartphone cannot be brought onto the aircraft in passengers' carry-on bags, and must instead be stowed in checked luggage.

The regulation applies to direct flights from selected countries to the USA and the UK, including the UAE, although Qantas' services between Australia and London via Dubai are not affected.

Read: How Australian travellers are affected by the USA, UK laptop bans

Noise-cancelling headphones from Bose, Audio-Technica, Sony and Sennheiser are considered must-have kit by business travellers and frequent flyers when it comes to watching videos or listening to music on their own devices or the aircraft's entertainment system.

Compact models such as the Bose QC20s in-ear headphones (below) can still be taken onto the flight, as they are smaller than a smartphone...

... but larger over-the-ear models will have to be packed up with your laptop and sent through as checked luggage.

"Electronic headsets/headphones fall under the definition of electronics" the TSA spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller. "If they are larger than the size of a smartphone then they would need to go into checked baggage."

While there has been some misinformation about the newer generation of noise-cancelling headphones fitted with Bluetooth, such as the Bose QC35s, the TSA spokesperson said that the presence of wireless technology wasn't a factor, but product size was.

With regard to "disabling the Bluetooth feature, it would still need to go into checked baggage if the device was larger than a smartphone, regardless of whether the Bluetooth feature was disabled," the spokesperson clarified.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Feb 2015

Total posts 130

Just to clarify again, this headphone is only for flights from those selected countries, not all countries right?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1381


Until the list of countries changes.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2341

As the article says: "The regulation applies to direct flights from selected countries to the USA and the UK, including the UAE, although Qantas' services between Australia and London via Dubai are not affected." Read that, follow the article links and you'll be set.


03 Mar 2015

Total posts 11

I'm sorry..  I am all for safety but what next??  

We will be traveling naked soon.  

25 Feb 2012

Total posts 78

or wearing our jocks on the outside

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 186

Free colon scan,to see if your hat is on straight

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 1

This has nothing to do with safety, if it did it would be a blanket ban globally.  This is about putting pressure on specific carriers that the US and some European airlines have been complaining about having an unfair advantage.  They cannot win the argument in court  so they will try and dissuade passengers (particularly BC and FC) from flying with specific airlines by taking these items off board.  It is interesting to note that QF flights to London via DXB can still carry these products on board even though they go through the same airport and security processes as the EK flights departing from DXB.  I wonder if you book the flight with QF as a codeshare but fly with EK if you would be exempt???
EK flights to UK not effected  - it Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi, Aman and Lebanon

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2015

Total posts 67

I wonder if this means that airlines wont be able to offer noise-cancelling headphones anymore in J or F on affected routes even if it's not the passenger's... or you'll just have to listen from the cargo hold!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 99

Very good question.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1137

Of course not - equipment onboard is sterile and stays on board. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 2

I transited through Doha to the US yesterday - they nearly took my QC15 headphones from me until they verified that the batteries were removable and not rechargeable. Advice: Get a supervisor to check your "disputed" electronics before handing them over.

10 Feb 2017

Total posts 1

That makes no sense to me. I thought the issue was due to the bad guys hiding malicious electronics and other dangerous substances inside the cases of devices. Batteries in/batteries out makes no difference. It's what's in the case that counts. It's the next harsher step to what we all did a few years ago when we had to turn on our devices to prove the innards were the real deal. This seemed to quietly drop by the wayside - I expect it just took too long. So this new rule drives to the same object albeit more practically for those enforcing it. I suspect the "batteries out" directive was just a lucky break ahead of more consistent training getting rolled out around the world. Just speculating. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 2

I cannot comment on the intelligence nor accuracy of any judgement made by people "in charge".


03 Mar 2015

Total posts 11

A friend of mine asked.  "Will babies be banned next?  They're bigger than a iPhone." I did have to chuckle.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1137

That would be amazing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 328

I am all for that!

16 Sep 2011

Total posts 1

Excellent idea!!!


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

I just curious how long UK will exempt Dubai from list of banned origins?

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 941

I'm curious how long it will take for the US and UK to grow brains and remove this pointless and utterly unnecessary ban.

Xray and ETD is more then enough to clear any concerns of so called "explosives" in devices.

06 Dec 2014

Total posts 21

So am I. I fly into Dubai on Saturday morning on my way to the UK. I'd prefer to have both my laptop and my iPad with me rather than in my luggage. I'm also carrying on my CPAP machine. Be interesting to see what they make of that.


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 300

I tried the Bose QC20s and wasn't very impressed with the performance. 

05 May 2016

Total posts 526

This is quite disappointing. I prefer over the ear headphones and have already spent a considerable amount on those.

I definitely hope this ban doesn't spread to more routes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 96

Not directly related to the headphones and cannot see where else to put this but Etihad have announced free wifi and use of iPad for all F and J passengers to the US from AUH.

Good move.
Yep. I'm definitely avoiding those airlines on those routes. This is insane! 

If someone was up to no good, they could very easily transit through Europe en route to the US. 

Given that the US authorities do not think that scenario is risky enough to mitigate against, this suggests that authorities believe the weakness is in the airports from these countries. 

Particularly, a compromised security personnel having waive through (inadequately checked) the devices of perpetrators who are working in cahoots with compromised airport security staff. 

Seems to me, if we can isolate the risk, perhaps the ME3 could arrange for US agents to perform security clearance from DOH, DXB, AUH the way EL AL deploys their own security at overseas ports. Would this not give the US confidence that security for flights to the US have not been compromised?

I'm correct! Reported at Flyertalk:

"Speaking anonymously, officials inside the United States government now suggest that the ban on in-cabin electronics has little to do with a terrorism threat from several primarily Islamic nations. NBC News reports that the anonymous sources contradict the official message that removing large electronics from cabins would help foil a terrorist plot in the near future...The 10 airports were singled out because the airports did not match the “infrastructure and security apparatus” required to discover explosives, one official said. Another went on to note that the threat is “significant,” and could create major safety problems for aviation in the future."

I'd put the Flyertalk URL in but it would probably get censored or it will talk a long time before it's vetted. Go to Flyertalk to read the piece under title: Electronics Ban Not Declared for Terrorist Threat.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 328

This is the thin edge of the wedge right here. I mean, really where does it end? Bad guys will do what bad guys do....find a way.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 May 2015

Total posts 31

Excuse me for asking but am I missing something here? Can someone explain the difference in risk of having such an electronic device on the flight deck vs in the hold?    
I think the risk is that they can take components, innocuous on their own to make a lethal weapon. Think Mission Impossible, but less sexy and more amateurish....

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 1

So the bad guys have something nasty in their Bose head phones, how is checking it into the hold going to make it safe?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 8

This ban has nothing to do with security and everything to do with competition. Middle Eastern Airlines are killing the opposition, especially US airlines, and the laptop ban means business people will have to travel thru other ports (on other airlines).

Notwithstanding the ethics of such a move (heard of the boy who cried wolf?) US airliners do not fly to the regions served by these airlines. If anything, European airlines will benefit instead! Granted through US/EU Open Skies US carriers may benefit, but it seems too far fetched. Although I wouldn't put it past the current US administration!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 117

+1 @johnshave (i was thinking of the same, indirectly hurting them). Obviously, it is conspiracy at best. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Mar 2014

Total posts 205

There will be boxes of Bose headphones for sale 

All I think of is those crazy yanks on that awful reality show bidding for them 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 107

Dont AA give passenger's in business Bose QC headphones. While i assume AA isn't impacted it is an interesting point 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

Travelled through Sydney, Dubai,  London,  NY,  Orlando and Dallas in last 11 days.  The US ports were probably excessive.  Pat downs of many including kids.  Dubai security was relaxed as it always seems to be. But I'm not sure that the over zealous approach of the TSA is the way to go. Every single person was x ray scanned.  Dubai has no such facilities. Do I feel safer travelling through the US than the Middle East?  Probably by a small margin. But this feels like the thin edge of the wedge. Laptops now and smartphones and tablets next.  

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