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.