How to use your own headphones on American’s new 777-300ER

Passengers traveling in First and Business Class on American’s new 777-300ER are provided with Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones to use during the flight.

Even though the QC15s get great reviews from even the toughest of critics, some people may prefer to use their own headphones. Maybe it’s because their own headphones are lighter, or heavier, smaller, or larger, fit in the ear, fit on the ear, or maybe it’s because they look like Princess Leia’s braids.

Whatever the reason, using your own headphones is not quite a simple as plugging into the 777-300ERs inflight entertainment system. The audio output on the entertainment system uses two 3.5-mm stereo jacks and one 2.5-mm power jack, so most people will need an adapter.

Though the sound quality is the same, American’s QuietComfort 15 headphones have been modified and differ slightly from the retail version and from most headphones.

The Differences

Power: a single AAA battery powers the retail version. American’s version gets its power using a 2.5-mm A/V jack that connects to a 5V power port that’s part of the inflight entertainment system (so no more receiving a headphone set that needs to have the battery replaced).

Audio Connection: The retail version uses a single 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack (just like the connection on a home stereo or an iPod). American’s version of the QC15 headphones connects to the entertainment system using two 3.5-mm stereo headphone jacks that split the left and right audio channels.

To use you’re own headphones you’ll need an adapter that converts a regular headphone stereo jack (1/8′ – 3.5-mm) to a dual prong (1/8′ – 3.5-mm) airline jack.

Bose includes an adapter with their noise canceling headphones, and so do most other manufacturers.

If you don’t have one (or like me, you’ve lost it) you can buy a replacement for just a few dollars.

Bose sells one for $2.99 plus shipping. There’s nothing proprietary about the adapter, so if you’re looking to save a little money, you can buy a generic one for 99 cents (with free shipping).

Plug your headphones into the adapter, plug the adapter into audio out ports on the entertainment system, and since you’re headphones are powered by batteries, just disregard the power port and enjoy your flight.

If you don’t want to buy an adapter, but still want to use your own headphones, there is an alternative.  The audio ports in the main cabin use just the single audio jack,  no adapter is necessary.   So another (more drastic) option is to just downgrade to coach;-)


  1. Are you sure the adapter is needed? Most modern split-jack systems like that have both channels in each plug IME. It is just that the headphones have the split so they aren’t so useful if you take them with you.

  2. As another poster pointed out, all you need to do is to plug your 3.5mm plug into either outlet and it will work just fine. Both plugs transmit on both channels. This is a loss prevention system for American since most people can’t use a two-prong headset on their phones/MP3s/computers.

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