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An In-Depth Look at the Best Earplugs for Flying

The roar of the engines, the luxury of first-class, the thrill of flight – they’re the best flying has to offer. Unfortunately most of us are stuck with all the sounds and pressure-inducing headache-causing problems that make flights miserable. Many turn to earplugs for relief, but do earplugs work for flying? And if so, which one to choose? We review 14 of the best earplugs for flying. Have a flight to catch? We recommend the Eargasm Aviation Earplugs.

How effective can these earplugs really be? It’s hard to imagine that a couple of tiny plastic plugs can make a big difference in blocking out the cacophony of sound and fury that signifies nothing but discomfort and pain at 30,000 feet.

Well, that depends on what kind of earplugs you choose and how you use them. There are specific steps you’ll want to adhere to when considering how to use earplugs for flying. Certain types of earplugs are more effective than others – and that’s just the beginning.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best earplugs for airplane travel and how they can help make your next trip a peaceful one.

Benefits of Wearing Earplugs While Flying

Before we get into the different models themselves, let’s take a moment to address the elephant in the room – why all the hullabaloo about such tiny pieces of plastic and foam? The fact is there are many benefits to wearing earplugs, and they go far beyond simply shutting out sound.

That’s because the effects of achieving that much sought after peace and quiet, either on the plane or in your own bed, can be greatly beneficial for your health in a variety of ways, lowering your risk of:

  • High blood pressure
  • Strokes
  • Obesity and related conditions, such as diabetes and heart attacks
  • Depression
  • Lack of sleep and resultant health conditions

In addition, earplugs can be a great choice if you have a partner who snores loudly or you are seated next to a child on an airplane. Both of these conditions can cause severe disruptions in your sleep patterns, and both can be combatted by the noise-cancelling powers of earplugs.

Then there are plane-specific benefits, most notably the ability to combat the pressure on your eardrums that can result from flying. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of experiencing your “ears popping” while flying, that pressure is the reason why. Earplugs can resolve that issue by blocking out that pressure.

The Different Types of Earplugs

With their benefits established, it’s time to turn to take a look at some of the best earplugs for airplane travel. Not all earplugs are made from the same materials or offer the same benefits, however. Some are made from plastic, others from foam, and their capabilities vary wildly.

The three basic types of earplugs

  • Plastic: These are among the most common types of earplugs. They tend to be durable and reusable, but not as moldable and don’t tend to have as many extra perks as other options.
  • Sponge: These earplugs tend to be softer, making them a good choice for those with sensitive eardrums. They also tend to be more moldable and are typically inexpensive. However, the spongy material isn’t as durable and can cultivate bacteria if reused too often.
  • Wax: These options are also quite moldable. They are also waterproof, which (hopefully!) won’t matter for flying, but if you’re looking for earplugs that can be used in the pool as well as on the plane, these might be your choice.

Some other factors to consider

  • Moldable earplugs: One of the most common problems with earplugs is when a pair feels too big or small to fit one’s ears comfortably. Moldable earplugs solve that problem. They can be molded to fit the shape of your ear, allowing it to fit like a glove. These earplugs tend to be made of wax, though spongy or silicone types can also be a bit moldable.
  • Disposable earplugs: These are often made from sponge, and are typically only worn a couple of times before needing to be replaced.
  • Reusable earplugs: If you don’t want to have to pay to replace earplugs over and over again, reusable long-term pairs are the way to go. These are often made from plastic and can be used for at least several nights at a stretch.

With those broader categories established, let’s look at the leading candidates in categories specifically designed for use on airplanes.

The Best Earplugs for Flying

Pressure Reducing Earplugs for Flying

1. Eargasm Aviation Earplugs

Eargasm Aviation Earplugs - Ear Pain Relief for Air Travel - Small Size (2 Pairs in Gift Box Packaging)
  • INSTANTLY REDUCE EAR PAIN from pressure...
  • HELPS MINIMIZE noises associated with...
  • SMALLER SIZE to fit women, children, and...

We think these are the best earplugs for flying. These earplugs do a great job of blocking out sound, and are capable of reducing the noise that you hear while on a plane by as much as 20 decibels. 

They are on the smaller size, so if you are looking for earplugs that can fit smaller adult ears as well as those of children, these are a great choice. An included carrying case makes these earplugs easy to take with you on the go.

These Eargasm earplugs are also made from silicone material, making them reusable, while their soft nature helps make for a comfortable fit. What’s more, a membrane embedded deep within the earplug helps cut down on pressure felt by the ear canal, thereby helping prevent in-flight pain.

With Eargasm Aviation Earplugs
Editorial Team With Eargasm Aviation Earplugs

2. Win Long Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs

Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs, 4 Pairs Airplane Earplugs Silicone Reusable Ear Plugs for Flight Flying Travel for Adults with Storage Case by Win Long
  • PRESSURE REDUCING: These silicone ear...
  • REUSABLE & COMFORTABLE: The silicone ear...
  • NOISE REDUCTION: NRR 26 Earplugs to...

These earplugs from Win Long are another example of excellent reusable earplugs. Their soft silicone construction makes them sturdy enough to be used several times. They are washable and can and should be washed between uses. The nicely portable carrying case makes them a good choice for travel purposes.

As for their performance, these earplugs feature a soft, firm fit, blocking out background noise nicely. What’s more, they do a great job of helping ease the pressure on your ears as the flight changes altitude, so if that is a primary concern, these are a good pair to consider.

3. Luiswell Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs

Luiswell Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs, 4 Pairs Silicone Reusable Ear Plugs Airplanes Earplugs for Adults Flight Travel with Carrying Cases
  • PRESSURE RELIEVE: Earplugs regulate ear...
  • COMFORTABLE: Soft silicone ear plugs...
  • NOISE REDUCTION: NRR 26 earplugs to...

These earplugs from Luiswell feature a triple flange fit, which allows them to stay firmly lodged in your ears even as you move around. If you are a bit restless while sleeping or have a problem with earplugs dislodging easily, these could be a good fit for your flight needs.

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They do a good job of regulating and combating pressure on the ear as a result of altitude changes while flying. They are yet another pair that features a soft silicone construction, which means they can be reused for several flights.

In addition, these earplugs come in four individual storage cases. This can allow you to distribute a case each to different friends and family members before the flight, allowing you all to carry a pair for convenience’s sake and fly with ease and comfort.

4. Mack’s Flightguard Airplane Pressure Relief Earplugs

These earplugs from Mack’s make use of a special type of filter technology that works to regulate air pressure around your ears. This solution does a great job of preventing ear popping and pressure on your ears, thereby relieving pain.

The earplugs themselves are quite soft, made from a type of silicone that’s a bit more flexible than other options while still remaining firm. They fit into place nicely while still being easy enough to remove.

Mack’s boasts that these earplugs have undergone lab testing, which have allowed them to be specially designed to block out air pressure and sound while in flight. They also claim that the earplugs have the endorsement of Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctors and can block out 26 decibels’ worth of noise.

5. Alpine Hearing Protection FlyFit Airplane Ear Plugs

These offerings from Alpine Hearing Protection set themselves apart with their unique construction. They are made from special thermoplastic materials, with each pair featuring special acoustic filters that mold to the shape of your ear so as to stay in place while blocking out sound.

Interestingly, these earplugs claim to be a bit more selective in what they filter out, blocking out ambient sound while still allowing you to hear those talking to you. According to Alpine Hearing Protection, they have been tested to block out as much as 17 decibels’ worth of noise. 

They are specially designed for flight and to help you reduce sound while in flight.

Noise Cancelling Earplugs for Flying

6. BRISON Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs for Sleeping

These earplugs actually allow you to hear the sounds around you, instead working on quieting noise rather than canceling it out completely. They are, thus, suitable for events such as music concerts, or flights where you wish to have conversations while still enjoying the pressure-combatting powers that earplugs can offer.

These options are on the comfier side and feature triple flange membranes that keep them in place while on the go. The carrying case that comes with the earplugs can be attached to a keychain, making them all the easier to take with you.

All of these factors combine to create a set of earplugs that are ideal for noise dampening purposes.

7. Hearprotek Noise Reduction Ear Plugs for Sleeping

The ergonomic nature of these earplugs from Hearprotek make them a great fit for any pair of ears. They are a great example of moldable earplugs that can easily conform to the shape of the wearer’s ears. Their triple flange build and grooved stems ensure a snug fit every time.

They are made of a lightweight silicone, which can allow you to wear them all day without fear of discomfort or their wearing out. What’s more, these earplugs offer some of the best decibel-blocking capabilities on the list, being able to block out as much as 32 decibels.

They come in four differently-colored pairs, making it easier for families to remember whose are whose. In addition, they also come with a nice milled aluminum case and connector cords for portable use. For long-term use, wash after usage with soapy water.

8. Ear Plugs for Sleeping with Reusable Noise Reduction for Musicians and Concerts

As the lengthy name would imply, these earplugs are suitable not just for use on planes, but for concerts as well. They do a great job of blocking out sound well enough so as to reduce discomfort while still allowing the wearers to hear speech and music around them.

These are earplugs that are built to last. They are made from a silicone material that is soft enough to conform to the shape of your ear while still being sturdy enough to hold up to repeated usage. They are waterproof, and, you should wash these earplugs before reusing them.

What’s more, these earplugs are hypoallergenic, making them ideal for anyone with sensitive skin.

Earplugs for Children for Flying 

9. EarPlanes

Original Child EarPlanes by Cirrus Healthcare Ear Plugs Airplane Travel Ear Protection 1 Pair, Size-Small
  • EarPlanes Relieve Ear Discomfort,...
  • EarPlanes Are A Must Have For Your Next...
  • EarPlanes Are Safe, Soft, And Disposable...

Children can be fussy about wearing things that feel “funny” to them, including earplugs. That’s why sets such as these from Conair are so invaluable. They allow parents to give their children earplugs for the flight that are specially designed with child comfort in mind.

These earplugs shift air pressure around the ear during takeoffs and landings, helping protect your children’s sensitive ears. They are quite soft, hypoallergenic, and designed for use by children aged 1 to 10.

Conair claims these earplugs feature the endorsement of doctors as well as Good Housekeeping, and that they have likewise been tested by U.S. Navy pilots.

10. Alpine Pluggies Kids Ear Plugs

Alpine Pluggies - Earplugs for Kids & Small Ear Canals - 25 dB - Multi-Purpose Kids Ear Protection - Age 5-12 - Comfortable and Hypoallergenic Kids Earplug
  • SENSITIVE HEARING | A child's hearing is...

One of the best things about these earplugs for children is that they are designed to be used not just for planes, but other settings, such as pools and for studying in noisy areas as well. This multifunctional nature makes them a great bargain for parents.

Adding to that bargain is the fact that these earplugs are sturdy enough to be reusable, as long as you take the time to wash them in between uses.

They are quite kid-friendly, and come with stickers with which kids can decorate the container that comes with them. Performance-wise, these earplugs do a great job of blocking out noise up to 17 decibels.

11. Mack’s Soft Moldable Silicone Putty Ear Plugs

Mack's Soft Moldable Silicone Putty Ear Plugs - Kids Size, 6 Pair - Comfortable Small Earplugs for Swimming, Bathing, Travel, Loud Events and Flying | Made in USA
3,898 Reviews
Mack's Soft Moldable Silicone Putty Ear Plugs - Kids Size, 6 Pair - Comfortable Small Earplugs for Swimming, Bathing, Travel, Loud Events and Flying | Made in USA
  • #1 BRAND USED BY DOCTORS - Mack’s is...

This is another great example of multipurpose earplugs that can do it all. They can be used not just for flights, but swimming, bathing, and general use in loud settings. As the name implies, they feature a silicone design that molds in a putty-esque way to your child’s ear shape.

Mack’s claims these earplugs to be a prime choice among swimmers in particular, so if your child is going out for swimming, you may want to consider these waterproof options.

They provide protection against noise up to 22 decibels. In addition, they do a good job of reducing pressure on children’s ears while flying.

Inexpensive Earplugs for Flying

12. New Super Soft Adult EarPlanes® Ear Plugs

If you are looking for a budget earplug option, you may want to give offerings from EarPlanes a try. They are among the most affordable options on our list, making them a great choice for anyone looking to buy large quantities of earplugs for use by a group.

As is probably to be expected with such inexpensive earplugs, they are disposable rather than reusable.

They are made from latex-free silicone and are designed with a soft fit, allowing them to fit into place nicely without causing discomfort. They make use of EarPlanes’ CeramX Filter to block out excess sound, providing you with a quieter plane trip from start to finish.

Foam Earplugs for Flying

13. Howard Leight Individually Wrapped Laser-Lite Single Use Uncorded Earplugs

Howard Leight by Honeywell Laser Lite High Visibility Disposable Foam Earplugs, Pink/Yellow , 200-Pairs (LL-1) - 3301105
  • LASER LITE HI-VIS COLORS: Vibrant yellow...

These unique technicolor earplugs from Honeywell are great for work environments in which earplugs are common. Their bright yellow and magenta color scheme makes it easy for coworkers to identify earplug wearers, which can be vitally important for safety when heavy machinery and vehicles are involved.

These are also some of the strongest earplugs on our list, being able to block out 32 decibels’ worth of noise, putting another point in their favor for use in environments where heavy machinery or loud engines are common. 

That latter point makes them great for blocking out sound on noisy airplanes. This, combined with their soft foam construction, make them a great choice for those looking for sleep-friendly silence come flight time. They also come in bulk, with 200 earplugs per box.

14. Howard Leight Max Lite Low Pressure Disposable Foam Earplugs

Howard Leight by Honeywell Maximum Lite Low Pressure Disposable Foam Earplugs, 200-Pairs (LPF-1), Green

These earplugs are specially designed to fit small ears. In addition, the polyurethane foam from which they are made gently expands in the ear canal, which not only helps block out sound, but does so in a comfortable fashion. They can be inserted and removed with ease.

While hygiene is often a challenge for foam earplugs, these options buck that trend. They feature closed-cell foam that resists dirt buildup, making it easier to keep them clean.

What’s more, with the ability to block as much as 30 decibels’ worth of sound, they are some of the strongest earplugs on our list.

Ear plugs in three colors
Editorial Team Ear plugs in three colors

How to Choose Earplugs for Flying

First, you need to know whether you are buying earplugs for yourself or children, as there are special options for the latter that can help suit a child’s special needs. 

In addition, you’ll want to give some consideration to the materials used, the price, and whether or not you intend to reuse the earplugs. If you are a frequent flyer, it may behoove you to have a pair that you can use over and over again.

How durable your earplugs are will depend in large part on the materials used. If you are looking for earplugs that can be used over and over again, you’ll likely want to go for silicone, plastic, or other sturdy materials.

By contrast, foam earplugs tend to be softer and offer great comfort, but are only good for one or two uses at the most.

What Makes the Best Earplugs for Flying?

The answer to this question is naturally going to depend in part upon your personal preferences.

That said, if there is one objective measure by which earplugs can be evaluated against one another for in-flight use in particular, it is their ability to protect one’s ears from pressure. The better earplugs are at this, the more likely they can protect you from your ears popping.

In addition, you’ll also want to pay attention to how much sound these earplugs can block out. 

Some are capable of blocking out a great deal of sound, proving wearers with near-total silence. This can be ideal for those looking to sleep the flight away. 

Passenger sleeping during night flight
Editorial Team Passenger sleeping during night flight

On the other hand, if you want protection against high-altitude pressure, but still want to talk to your friends or family members while in-flight, you’ll want to look for earplugs that can dampen and lessen sound without totally blocking it out.

When evaluating earplugs for flying, you also want to give a lot of consideration to each option’s overall comfort level. For as much as you want to block out sound and pressure, you don’t want to do so at the cost of inadvertently hurting your ears.

Earplug FAQ

Some common questions that buyers of earplugs have when shopping for the best earplugs for flying include:

  • Can I use normal earplugs for flying? 

That depends on what you want to achieve. If you are merely looking to block out sound, some of the stronger types of earplugs could easily be used for this purpose. However, if you want to combat pressure in particular, flight-specific earplugs may be best.

  • Are foam earplugs good for flying?

This relates back to the previous point. Some foam earplugs can be great for cancelling out decibels and providing you with a quiet flight. However, they likely will not provide the same kind of protection against pressure as special flight earplugs.

  • Are there special earplugs for flying?

Yes! There are many earplugs that are specially made to combat the pressure that is exerted on your ears during a flight. If this is a major concern for you, then you will want to check out those that specialize in this kind of protection.

  • Are earplugs safe for flying?

On the whole, yes. There are certain conditions that may make it better to go without earplugs. If you have a sinus infection, or are at risk of tinnitus, earplugs may cause issues. Used responsibly when you are otherwise healthy, however, earplugs are generally safe.

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