Flying Without Noise

I’ve always known that airplanes are noisy places. No more so, perhaps, than the trusty Dash 8’s that ferry we eastern Canadians around. And I’d read about how it’s the noise of flying that’s one of the bigger contributors to the stress of flying.

But I didn’t realize how true this was until we flew to Thailand a year ago this week. By chance, I bought a pair of disposable earplugs at the airport gift shop at Chicago O’Hare. I used them, on and off, for the seemingly endless flight to Tokyo, and then had them in for the entire flight from Tokyo to Bangkok, during which I was exhausted to a degree I’d never experienced before.

They helped. A lot. And if you’re flying somewhere, I heartily recommend that you invest a couple of dollars in a pair; you can get them at Shopper’s Drug Mart if you can’t find them elsewhere.

For the flight to Boston today, I moved things up a notch, and invested in a pair of Shure “in ear” earphones. These are earphones that you literally “stick in your ear,” and they come with a variety of sizes of foamy sleeves to allow you to find the size right for your ears.


The flight from Halifax to Boston was unlike any flight I’d ever experienced. The earphones cut out, I’d hazard a guess, about 85% of the annoying sound in the airplane, and that’s even before you press “play” on whatever you’ve got them plugged into.

Unlike “noise cancelling” headphones, which I’d experimented with before, these earphones prevent sound from reaching your ears by simply blocking the way. Noise cancelling headphones, which try to achieve the same effect by generating a sound wave “opposite” to the ambient noise around you, are, in my experience, bulkier and more cumbersome.

The earphones I bought — they’re Shure’s e2c model — are not cheap. But they come highly recommended. You can order them in Canada from SFM Marketing in Montreal. I ordered a pair on Thursday afternoon and they were in my hands on Friday morning.


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on February 9, 2003 - 13:42 Permalink

I had a chance to try out a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones on a recent trip and was very impressed. They are expensive ($300US+), but the effect is really quite remarkable.

Ken's picture
Ken on February 9, 2003 - 15:37 Permalink

Those little foam plugs are useful in todays noisy world. I wear them when I fire up my server which is very loud, at rock concerts, and when I used to drive 18 wheeler.

Eaglethorpe Martini's picture
Eaglethorpe Martini on February 10, 2003 - 04:04 Permalink

Flying without noise is possible in a hot air balloon.

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on February 10, 2003 - 11:26 Permalink

Except that you have a multi-million BTU burner about 18 inches from your ear.

Eaglethorpe Martini's picture
Eaglethorpe Martini on February 10, 2003 - 15:48 Permalink

Which is only intermittent, giving 5-10 minutes of silent flight between blasts.

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on February 11, 2003 - 12:19 Permalink

If you wait 10 minutes between applications of the burner, that hard thump you just felt was the ground. (and it hurts)