by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
Geoffrey Morrision, writing for the New York Times, casts his vote in favor of using noise-canceling headphones when traveling, and I’ll add mine, too. The only downsides of noise-canceling headphones is that the over-ear ones are a little bulky, they are yet another thing to pack and carry, and it can be hard to find a comfortable head position with them on when trying to sleep. But in return, one has much greater quiet when flying.
Aircraft cabin noise is largely low-frequency noise, from engines and airframe, and most noise-canceling headphones do a good job of reducing low frequency noise.
I often use them on longer train rides, too, where again the predominant noises are low frequency ones.
The best noise-canceling headphones are expensive, of course, but if you are a frequent flyer, they are worth it.
Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.