There are a ton of options when it comes to headphones, and choosing from all of those options can be even more confusing when you intend to use the headphones on an airplane. I've tried a lot of different headphone options and I think I've found a really good and cost effective solution.
The main consideration when choosing headphones for use on an airplane is dealing with the airplane noise. You can have the highest quality headphones on the planet, but it means nothing if you can't hear the high quality sound coming out of them. So how do you deal with mitigating the airplane noise? You have two options, either physically block out the noise or use an audio cancellation technique. I've tied the "noise canceling" headphones and they do work, but they are expensive. I would rather spend my money on a super nice pair of headphones to use in a less noisy environment then spend all that money on the technology used to cancel out the noise rather than producing excellent sound quality. Don't get me wrong, there are some really high quality noise canceling headphones out there, but the money you are spending isn't totally going into sound quality (some of it is being spent cancelling out the background noise). So I decided to try a much more simple solution, physically blocking out the noise to begin with. I'm sure you have all seen the little "squishy" marshmallow like ear plugs. Well, I've been using a set of really inexpensive headphones that use that same soft "squishy" marshmallow like material as the ear inserts and they work great. The headphones are called the JVC HA-FX30 Marshmallow Inner-Ear Headphones and retail for $14.99. Not only do the headphones do an excellent job of blocking noise (in fact I am listening to music on an airplane with them now as I write this post), but they also act as earplugs and help to reduce all the ear popping that goes on while ascending and descending.
These are not by any means high sound quality headphones, but they aren't bad. I am also a big bass person and the earplug configuration of these headphones really help to enhance the bass in the sound. Because the headphones themselves are so simple they don't take up any more space than the headphones that Apple provides with the iPhone, so they are easy to pack and travel with. And probably the biggest advantage of this type of headphone is that it protects your ears. I am able to use these while on an airplane or while mowing the yard and I don't have to turn up the volume any louder than I would if I were in a less noisy environment. I don't know about you, but I would like to have some hearing left when I get older! These headphones may not be for everyone, but at $14.99 they make a very cost effective solution for people that like to listen to audio in a noisy environment. Give them a try and let know what you think!