One major concern people have when they are about to take a flight with their new hearing aids or cochlear implant is “can I wear hearing aids on an airplane”? This question is often times not addressed with new users of hearing aids, and if you get to the airport and realize you haven't asked, it can cause some concern.
The best and safest way to travel on a plane with your hearing aids and/or cochlear implant is to wear them.
Not only will this help to ensure that they are not lost in misplaced luggage, but you will be able to better hear the safety instructions of the airline and security personnel, as well as notifications about gate changes or flight delays.
At Security Checkpoints
It may be helpful to notify the TSA security officer that you have a hearing loss and are wearing hearing technology. This way, they will be aware of any anomalies that may show up on the security screen and will facilitate communication with the officials. You can use this downloadable TSA notification card to discreetly notify the officer of your hearing loss.
The X-rays, metal detectors, full-body, and hand-held scanners will not affect your hearing aids or cochlear implant. However, the walk-through metal detectors may cause you to hear a distorted sound when walking through the scanner. You may choose to turn down the volume on your device before entering the scanner to reduce the annoying sound.
If you are bringing a spare cochlear implant processor with you on your trip, it is best to put it in your carry-on bag, in the CI case, turned off, with the battery out. It is better to keep it in your carry-on rather than checked luggage because the machine can be much stronger on the checked luggage scanner and may affect map settings.
Preparing For Your Flight
If you are concerned about whether you will hear the announcements at your gate, you should let the flight attendant at the gate know that you have a hearing loss. You may also want to sign-up for cell phone text alerts to inform you of any gate changes, delays, or boarding calls.
On The Airplane
There are currently no restrictions which will not allow you to wear your hearing aids or cochlear implants on a plane, even with wireless technology. However, if you also use an additional FM assistive listening device, that should be turned off during the flight.
Hearing aids and cochlear implants will not interfere with a plane's navigation system so you can keep them on for the entire flight, even take-off and landing.
FM systems are equipped with both a transmitter and receiver and fall under the same restrictions during flight as a cell phone. Keep your hearing aids on, but turn off your FM system device.
Many hearing aid users find that the airplane noise is loud and bothersome, especially if you are sitting over the wing or near the rear of the plane. For this reason, you may decide to turn your hearing aids down or use a pre-set noise reduction program. If you have a remote control, you can use this to make adjustments to your hearing aids during the flight. If you are not sure whether your hearing aid has a noise reduction program, ask your hearing healthcare provider prior to your flight. They may be able to set that up for you if not already in use.
If you remove your hearing aids during the flight, to watch a movie or listen to music, make sure you turn them off and safely put them in your carry-on bag so they are not lost or damaged.
Don't put them in the seat pocket or clothing pockets where they can be forgotten or fall out. When your flight is over, make sure you have all your hearing equipment before de-planing!
Traveling can be a exciting but also stressful. Using hearing technology should not add to the stress. Follow these simple tips and you will enjoy your flight and your trip!