Since summer is finally here, you may be thinking about doing some traveling. However, if you have a hearing impairment, flying can present some communication and navigation challenges. No need to worry though, with some mindful adjustments and planning, traveling by plane can be fun instead of scary. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re planning on flying with your hearing aids.
Before you go
Can you fly with hearing aids?
Yes, you can absolutely fly while wearing your hearing aids. Some devices even have a flight mode option to turn off wireless features. If your hearing aids have a flight mode option, be sure to turn this on once you board the plane. If you’re unsure, speak to your audiologist before your trip.
Things to pack
Make a packing list before your flight to ensure you don’t forget any of your hearing device essentials. The basics include:
- Hearing aid storage case/ drying container
- Small hearing aid dehumidifier
- Your charger and an adapter for the local power outlet if needed
- Extra batteries
- Cleaning kit
- Assistive listening devices
Be sure to pack important things in your carry-on bag so you can easily access everything you may need and reduce the risk of these important items getting lost.
Get a hearing aid tune-up, if needed
Before you leave, you may want to check in with your audiologist to make sure your hearing devices are clean and are working properly. Feel free to share where you’re going and what types of listening environments you anticipate to determine whether any adjustments need to be made to your devices so you can hear effectively while you’re away.
At the airport
At most airports, you’ll find a self-check-in kiosk to sidestep the possibility of having trouble communicating with airline staff at the counter. Some airport terminals and lounges provide hearing loops (sometimes called audio induction loops), that is, special sound systems for people with hearing aids that greatly improve the quality of sound in public places and reduce background noise. This system provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to the “T” (for Telecoil) setting. You can also use an app on your smartphone to get notifications if there’s a gate change, a flight delay, or any other important announcements. If masks are still required at the airport or on the plane, make sure you take them off carefully so you don’t accidentally lose your hearing aids.
Fortunately, you don’t have to remove your hearing aids when going through airport security. Don’t worry, your hearing aids won’t set off the metal detectors or be detected in body scanners. However, it’s a good idea to let the security agent know just in case. If you do decide to remove them, make sure not to put your hearing aids on the X-ray belt, because it can damage them.
On the plane
The good news is that when flight attendants ask everyone to turn off their electronic devices, this doesn’t apply to your hearing aids. In fact, wearing your hearing aids during the flight will make it easier to hear your travel companions as well as the flight staff, and any on-board announcements. You can let flight attendants know about your hearing loss so they can alert you of any important messages in case you have trouble hearing any announcements against the engine noise. The addition of smart phone pairing with your hearing aids makes for great flexibility when flying. You can easily turn off the microphones to lessen cabin noise all while enjoying your favorite song or movie. Speak with your audiologist about specific adjustments to ensure the best in-flight experience.
If you’d like to make sure your hearing aids will be your most reliable companion during your travels, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with an audiologist to get them tuned up.