Twelve South AirFly Pro Bluetooth Transmitter Review: Don’t Fly Without It – CNET

Air travel is great. It’s fast and it gives travelers access to a world of new adventures and cultures. But flying itself isn’t always the most pleasant experience, and there’s a frustrating disconnect between the technology available to the average person, and what’s on the average aircraft. Long-haul aircraft especially are usually over a decade old. So the problem becomes, what do you do with your Bluetooth headphones when you want to watch one of the stale movies and TV shows available on the inflight entertainment? 


Twelve South AirFly Pro

The first option is the free earbuds available on many flights. These are universally terrible, and unless you’re flying business class, they’re definitely not noise canceling. Even cheap Bluetooth headphones are likely better than what they give out on the plane. 

The AirFly Pro connected to a headphone jack, mid-flight. The AirFly Pro connected to a headphone jack, mid-flight.

Testing the AirFly halfway across the Atlantic.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

AirFly Pro comes with some easy-to-understand instructions, a cap for the 3.5mm jack with a keyring loop, and a USB charging cable. You’d expect a device like this to use the older Micro-USB connection, but thankfully it uses USB-C. There’s also a small pouch to carry it all. 

There’s one button and a toggle on the AirFly. The toggle switches between the two modes of the device. For a flight you’ll want the “TX” mode, in which the AirFly acts as a transmitter. The “RX” mode changes it to a receiver, letting you send audio from your phone or tablet to anything with an “AUX” analog input, such as your car. 

A closeup of the AirFly Pro. A closeup of the AirFly Pro.

The AirFly recharges via USB-C.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

airfly-group airfly-group

For most people, the AirFly SE is probably fine. Its battery life is longer than any commercial flight, and it’s the least expensive.

Twelve South

There are three versions of the AirFly: the AirFly SE ($35), AirFly Duo ($45) and AirFly Pro ($55), which is the one I tested. The SE connects to one set of headphones and has approximately 20 hours of battery life. The Duo lets you connect two pairs of headphones plus adds a few more hours of battery life. The Pro has 25 hours of battery life and adds the transmit mode. You might not have a choice if you’re buying it at an airport, but if you’re getting it ahead of time, the SE is probably fine for most people. Or go for the Duo if you want to watch something with a partner or a particularly suave stranger.

For most people, the Pro is probably overkill. But if you have a car that you want to add Bluetooth to, or you’re renting a budget or older car, it can be handy. I can’t remember the last time I rented a car without Bluetooth, but it’s a big world out there. 

As well as covering TV and other display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarinesmassive aircraft carriersmedieval castles, epic 10,000-mile road trips, and more. Check out Tech Treks for all his tours and adventures.

He wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines and a sequel. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and his YouTube channel.

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