|Earplanes||$18 for 3-pack of disposable on Amazon|
|Mack’s Flightguard||$8 for reusable single pack on Amazon|
|Eargasm Aviation||$32 for reusable 2-pack on Amazon|
|Softvox Airplane Earplugs||$15 for reusable 2-pack on Amazon|
|Alpine Flyfit||$17 for reusable single pack on Amazon|
Why We Need “Airplane” Earplugs
On a long flight with even layovers, many of us like to get some shut-eye on the plane. However, even in business or first class, sleeping on a plane seems like a dream (no pun intended).
If you’re like me, you probably try fly coach/economy most of the time, and— jeez— it can get cramped, crowded, and noisy in there fast! If the noise doesn’t prevent or disturb your sleep, there are also other factors. You and 30 to a hundred others hurling thousands of miles up and across in the sky is certainly one of them.
If you’re like me, now matter how frequently you fly, you always get anxious and start calculating crash statistics.
Then, you realize how right then and there, you sit next to a complete and total stranger, whose barbeque pork rinds are smelling up the whole aisle while their trespass elbow trespasses into your space.
You’ve never wanted to stretch your legs out so badly, and by now you just hope your pilot’s not having a midlife crisis.
I think we can all agree— Planes are annoying, noisy places!
Ear Pressure & Pain
Then, there’s ear pressure. It affects people differently (and some not at all), but some of us get intense pain from the pressure on airplanes.
Now, there are things you can do (which don’t involve earplugs) that certainly help with this. However, we’re going to show you those at the end of this article. Mainly, we’re going to show you some specially-designed earplugs to combat pressure from airplanes (and where to get them). First, let us explain why you need them.
You may not realize it, but airplane pressure not only hurts in the moment, but it also can hurt in the long term.
Also, the decibels don’t help, either.
If you glance at the graphic above, you’ll see how many decibels on average a plane taking off has. Now, it’s important to remember that this graphic above represents the decibels you’d hear outside the plane.
The interior of the plane is designed to have noise-dulling acoustics. Still, though, that doesn’t mean that the pressure and noise can’t be damaging (even if you don’t sense it).
If you’re under the weather or experience regular allergies, the pressure can get worse, as well as more damaging.
Ear Pressure & Small Children
Ear pressure, as well as all the uncomfortable noises involved with flying, can affect both adults and kids. In fact, it often affects kids worse.
Kids and infants are more prone to illnesses (sinus-related) that contribute to pressure and pain within the ears. In addition, their adenoids and eustachian tubes have different proportions to their bodies compared to average adults. Not to mention— the noise and whole plane experience can traumatize a child or infant.
If you plan to fly with kids, you should also consider getting something for your children. We’ve thrown in options for them, too, in our list of earplugs.
Also, you should stick around to the end of this article. We’ll be sharing some helpful tips (to use alongside earplugs) to reduce the ear pressure from airplanes.
Before You Buy for Earplugs for Flying— Know What to Look For
Earplugs come in different forms. Some address loud noises, and some address both loud noises as well as ear pain caused by air pressure changes.
Types of Ear Plugs
First off, you have noise-reducing earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, and ear pain -reducing earplugs.
If you’re reading this article in preparation for a flight, we suspect you need some that do both (especially ear pain reduction). Before you purchase a pack of ear plugs, make sure you read for their purpose carefully. Don’t assume they all work the same!
Ear pressure-reducing earplugs work by slowing down the incoming air pressure changes. They typically contain filters. The quality of the air pressure filter often determines the quality of the air pressure ear plugs.
Also, know the difference between plastic, wax, and sponge earplug benefits.
Plastic / Silicone Earplugs
Plastic and silicone ear plugs typically last longer and clean more easily. If you have to use them frequently, they’ll likely last longer.
However, they can’t mold to the ear quite as well as a wax or sponge pair could, as plastic and silicone obviously make fixed shapes. If you go cheap on them, you could experience some ear discomfort.
They also might get a bit uncomfortable after a few hours or sooner (unless you get some specially-designed, ergonomic silicone or plastic ear plugs).
The great thing about wax earplugs— they mold easily to the ear (keeping the shape), and they’re waterproof.
However, they may wear out faster.
If you have a sensitive inner ear and eardrums, sponge earplugs typically are more soft and comfortable in the inner ear. However, they tend to soak in more bacteria and moisture after a couple uses. You typically can’t reuse sponge earplugs.
Depending on how often you fly, as well as the flight times, these factors will make a giant difference on your comfort, as well as your earplug budget! Therefore, before you buy, remember to note the earplug’s materials.
WIthout further ado, we’ve got a list (below) of the best earplugs for flying.
Earplanes, 3-pack for $18 on Amazon
These earpacks are made of hypoallergenic silicone, and they’re what we call filtered earplugs. Inside, they have a ceramic filter that slows air pressure changes coming into your ear that occur during flight.
These have patented CeramX filters, which have shown to be highly effective at easing the pressure changes. This is important, since it eases your eardrum’s stress and makes your ear feel more comfortable.
You also don’t have to worry about these inflaming your skin, since they’re made out of hypoallergenic silicone.
If you’re worried about noise, take care of that, too. They’ll remove about 20 decibels of noise, which is great if you need to sleep. The only downside is that they’re not really reusable. One pack will work fine for a trip or two.
You’ll probably want to use these no more than 3 times. If you’re a frequent flier, then you’ll want to get the 10-pack.
Here’s a summary of the pros & cons of Earplanes for Adults
- Fits snug
- Comfortable and durable due to silicone material
- High quality filter
- Also noise reducing (20 decibels)
- Available in packs of 1, 3, 5, & 10
Mack’s Flightguard Airplane Pressure Relief Earplugs, for $8 on Amazon
Second on our list is Mack’s Flightguard Airplane Pressure Relief Earplugs. Many frequent fliers trust this product, as they stay comfortable and affective even through very long flights.
They have flanged ends made of super soft silicone, which makes them more comfortable than average. Also inside, they have “aero filters” that help control the incoming pressure changes into the ear.
What we love about these is their eco-friendliness. You won’t worry about having to buy several packs and replace them. They can be washed and reused, and the company has even thrown in a case. The case, however, is a bit flimsy, so you might want to get a case to store the original case and earphones inside for added protection. These also have noise reduction (up to 26 decibels).
For those that don’t want to draw attention, they have clear ends which make them more discreet.
Here’s a summary of the pros & cons of Mack’s Flightguard Earplugs
- More discreet than average earplugs, due to clear material on the ends
- Hole inside the tip for added pressure relief
- More comfortable than average, with super soft flanges
- High noise reduction rate (26 dB)
- Reusable / no need to keep replacing
- Storage case included
- Incredibly low price
- Storage case is flimsy and on the lower-quality side, so you should probably get an additional case
- Only one size available (as of now)
Top Pick— Eargasm Aviation Earplugs (2-pack), $32 on Amazon
These reusable and ultra portable earplugs are nothing short of impressive. Out of the majority of earplugs out there, you’re less likely to lose these.
They have a small, but extremely durable, aluminum case that even has a keyring. You won’t worry about losing small, flimsy cases any longer (and therefore your earplugs) with these.
For frequent fliers, these earplugs can live on your keychain and be there whenever you need them.
They also have a super-soft silicone material that’s clear and discrete.
However, with the inside also having a clear material, you’re more likely to lose these than you are a neon pair, for instance.
While they have an okay noise reduction rating, they don’t reduce noise quite as much as the others. They only cancel up to 20 dB, which filters annoying flight noise for the most part, but not necessarily all ambient noise.
Another benefit of these, though— they come in two adult sizes. You can opt for the standard or the small. Those of you with smaller ears won’t have to get kids’ earplugs (which can sometimes be just a bit too small).
Here’s a summary of the pros & cons of Eargasm Aviation Earplugs
- Aluminum keychain case
- Soft, hypoallergenic silicone
- Works instantly
- Two adult sizes (standard & small)
- Lower than average decibel reduction
- Difficult to locate if you drop them
Softvox’s Airplane Earplugs, 2-Pair on Amazon for $15
These comfortable and reusable earplugs are a great, mid range option for those who suffer from ear pressure pain on airplanes. Their design has two layers, so they stay put and feel mostly comfortable.
They also have pretty high noise reduction— about 25 dB! That’s good for blocking out the kids crying, teenagers’ tik toking, or the plane jetting off. Even better— you can wash these and use them up to 100X! This is a great, affordable option for frequent fliers. You’ll just need to remove the filters before you wash them, of course.
The company also kept practicality in mind when they put these on the market. They’ve, too, included a small, metal case with a keyring for convenience. The only downside of the case— it sort of resembles a grenade (that’s just my opinion). All I’ll say is, don’t be surprised if the TSA gives it a second look at it.
Here’s a Summary of the Pros & Cons of Softvox’s Airplane Pressure Ear Plugs
- Includes a metal case with keyring
- Washable and reusable up to 100X
- 25 dB noise reduction
- Great value / Low price ($15) for set of 2
- Translucent & discrete
- The case resembles a grenade (just a tad)
- Difficult to find if you drop them
Alpine Flyfit Airplane Pressure Relief Earplugs, for $17 on Amazon
Lastly, this set is one of our favorites for its high value. These are Dutch-designed, with zero silicone.
Although, they call the material “hypoallergenic thermoshape” material; the true material is a bit of a mystery, as it’s neither foam, wax, or silicone!
Their noise reduction could be better, though, at only 17dB. These are for folks that suffer primarily from ear pressure (not necessarily intensely from noise) and have a smaller budget.
Another downside is their bright color. These aren’t exactly discrete, with their bumble-bee-yellow. They also have more ergonomic features, such as the minigrip, which allows you to remove them quickly.
They come with a case; however, the case is plastic and not as easy to keep up with as others on this list. Again, you might want to consider finding an alternative case for the whole thing.
I think my favorite feature of these is that they come with a cleaning tool. I haven’t seen any others so far that include this handy tool for removing your earwax (and sparring you some embarrassment).
Here’s a Summary of the Pros & Cons of Alpine’s Flyfit Airplane Pressure Relief Earplugs
- Award-winning Dutch design
- Hypoallergenic / 0% silicone
- Good value / $17 for reusable pair
- Case included
- Reusable / washable
- Cleaning tool included
- Case is plastic, with no keyring or lasting durability
- Not discrete (bright color)
Best Ear Plugs for Flying— For Kids + Some Helpful Kid Tips
For kids, we’ll remind you that the change in air pressure is even more likely to cause pain.
Here are two brands that we recommend for your little ones. For infants or kids that outright refuse to wear them, we’ve got some more helpful tips afterwards.
EarPlanes Kids Edition, 3-pack for $18 on Amazon
These are latex-free silicone and disposable (in the event your kid yanks them out). These are highly-rated and trusted for your little ones.
Not only will they reduce the pressure, but they help with the noise, just as the adult version does.
Alpine Pluggies, single pack for $17 on Amazon
These are the same Dutch-designed, reusable Alpines we showed you earlier but for kids. They cancel some of the noise, and they come with fun neon blue ends and a case.
Also, we think the name is the cutest of all!
Helpful Tips for Relieving Kids’ Ear Pressure Pain
These may not take the pain away completely; however, this help.
- The Yawning Game: Make a game out of yawning.
- Give them some candy to suck on (or a pacifier for infants).
- Bring some children’s ibuprofen (paracetamol for infants)– Always consult with your doctor first / This is not medical advice.
- Distraction: When all fails, don’t let them focus on the ear pain, especially when the plane is taking off and landing.
- Over-ear muffs (for infants and kids too stubborn for earplugs, these are a decent alternative)
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is it okay to wear earplugs on an airplane?
Yes, as long as you “tune in” to important information and announcements.
What earplugs do pilots use?
Pilots typically use pressure and noise-reducing earplugs that are disposable.
Will earplugs make my ears pop?
Pressure reducing earplugs are designed to slow down the change in pressure, which can otherwise cause intense pain. Don’t mix these up with regular foam noise-reducing earplugs.
When you wear these earplugs and get off the plane, you should expect your ears to “pop” after you’re off the plane.
Can I use the disposable earplugs they give away on the plane?
These earplugs are not pressure-relieving earplugs; they’re just mild noise reducing ones to help passengers sleep.
If you need something to alleviate pain from changing ear pressure in your ears, you’ll need to get airplane earplugs.
How do I find the right size earplugs?
Unless you have smaller-than-average ears, you’ll likely be fine with the standard adult sizes. Try some out before you commit to a more pricey pair of airplane earplugs.
If you realize your ears are on the smaller side, try kids’ sizes.