Flying this Summer? Hints for Your Hearing Aids

As this year’s summer travel season approaches, news of heightened airport security is making some people with hearing aids or cochlear implants nervous about what they may encounter as they go through TSA screening.

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the current ban on laptops and tablets, including some E-readers, on international flights from mostly Muslim countries in the Mideast and Africa would be extended to flights from Europe as well. After a meeting in Brussels last week, EU and American officials decided against the ban, in part because of the danger from fires in the hold caused by lithium batteries.

But the proposed ban raised the issue of electronics and security once again. Travelers with hearing aids and cochlear implants should rest assured that these will not set off alarms as you go through security screening.

It’s best to wear your hearing aids, in fact, for several reasons. The first is that they will allow you to hear questions from the TSA agents, which is important. You may even be able to hear flight announcements. The second is that hearing aids or cochlear implants and their various assistive devices in your carry-on baggage might prompt a bag search simply based on the shape and metallic content.

The best thing is to tell the security desk that you are wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant. If the alarm goes off as you go through the security gate, it’s probably because you forgot to take off your belt or left your keys in your pocket. If you are pulled aside, explain again that you have a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

On the plane itself, you may want to remove the aids if the plane is too loud. Noise-cancelling headphones can help cut the noise and may also allow you to enjoy the inflight entertainment, which the airline-provided earbuds would probably not. (Note to airlines: We’re still waiting for captions on in-flight entertainment!)

Don’t put your hearing equipment – or any other valuables or medications – in your checked bag. Bags are too easily lost in transit. Although the bag will probably eventually make it back to you, you want to have everything essential in your carry-on luggage.

If your hearing loss prevents you from hearing announcements in noisy airports, check off “disability” when you buy your ticket. Even if you specify that your disability is hearing loss, you may be met at the gate by a wheelchair. (This has actually happened to several friends of mine!)

But you will also be offered pre-boarding, which is definitely preferable to being caught in the scrum at the boarding gate as people wait to hear their zone called.

So wear your hearing aids, keep your valuables in your carry-on bag, and don’t forget your sense of humor!


For more on traveling with hearing aids and cochlear implants, see “Traveling with Chargers (and Hearing Aids).”

For more information on living with hearing loss, see my books on




7 thoughts on “Flying this Summer? Hints for Your Hearing Aids

  1. Hi Katherine: I was going to e mail you this weekend because I am sure you have been reading in the news that the hair cell regeneration stuff is really heating up. If you google ‘cure for hearing loss’ and filter by just the last month or so you’ll see a lot of updates, which I’m sure you do.  I know your focus is to still help advocate on behalf of us (and yourself) who need to do everything in our power to help with this NOW as opposed to at some unknown time in the future. On that note, I found your article / post below on hearing aids and flying to be useful, however the biggest hot button issue for me for about 5 years now has been “can I use my bluetooth streaming with my hearing aids on flight,” which is not addressed in your blog. It’s an important one.  Once again if you google it, it seems the FAA does not allow bluetooth devices in flight. My Resound Linx2 also has an airplane mode setting built in to the device, so obviously the concensus is one should not use their Bluetooth enabled hearing aids in flight. I’ve noticed, however, that as these devices (bluetooth headphones) become more mainstream, people are using regular bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. I do feel that if they can do it we should be able to also. So, I usually use a set of decoy headphones and then happily stream. I wouldn’t do this if I truly felt there was a risk to causing interference, but again if people are using bluetooth headphones and the flight crew don’t seem to care then there shouldn’t be a double standard just because average flight crew don’t understand the difference between a hearing aid bluetooth device and a Bose device (there should be none). Thought I’d pass along my 2 cents.  You may not remember me but I wrote you a raving review of your book last Fall while I was on vacation in Mexico and had a nice e mail exchange with you. Hope all is well. Best,Matt

    From: Katherine Bouton To: Sent: Monday, May 22, 2017 1:07 PM Subject: [New post] Flying this Summer? Hints for Your Hearing Aids #yiv6959926552 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6959926552 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6959926552 a.yiv6959926552primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6959926552 a.yiv6959926552primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6959926552 a.yiv6959926552primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6959926552 a.yiv6959926552primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6959926552 | Katherine Bouton posted: “As this year’s summer travel season approaches, news of heightened airport security is making some people with hearing aids or cochlear implants nervous about what they may encounter as they go through TSA screening.Earlier this month, the Department of” | |


    • i can’t promote Bluetooth use on airplanes if the FAA prohibits it. Maybe their rules will change.
      Agree with you that stem cell and gene therapy for hearing loss — especially genetic hearing loss — is promising. Some very good recent studies, which I hope to write about soon. But my feeling is that if you have hearing loss that can be treated, you should treat it — whether with hearing aids or cochlear implants. It’s important to keep the brain pathways for hearing speech active. That said, it’s a personal decision for any individual.


  2. Why don’t they have CC announcements on their flight boards? It would sure help. Yes I mark hard of hearing and it sure helps to have pre boarding.


  3. I advise all travelers to make three copies of their important papers, including their itinerary, airline tickets, passport, hotel and other reservations and your current audiogram. Leave one copy on your desk, one with someone you trust and pack one in your carryon luggage. That way, if you need to replace anything,
    you have the information handy.


  4. Thank you for the helpful information, Katherine. Question: Wouldn’t airlines be required under the Americans with Disabilities Act to make airline announcement captions available on all flights? I think this is an opportunity for all of us in the hearing loss community to advocate for a legal right.

    Shanna Groves


Please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s