Technology

This little Bluetooth dongle is now my essential travel and travel companion

AirFly Pro on table next to earbuds in a case and a Pixel phone.
Written by boustamohamed31

AirFly Pro on the table next to headphones in a case and a Pixel phone.

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Flights are boring, longer ones even more so. Because I have finicky ears that despise almost any shape or size of headphone, I’ve often struggled with the default in-flight entertainment options. Over the past few years, I’ve resorted to downloading some podcasts and playlists and listening to them with my own tried and tested comfortable Bluetooth headphones. It’s a minimalist setup, but it works for me and allows me to skip the cramming of a tablet or a laptop in the small space in front of me.

Looking at my husband next to me though, I still envied him how he could just grab any earpiece or headset provided by the plane and use it with the in-flight entertainment system. During our four-hour trips back home to Lebanon, he can catch two movies while I struggle to pass the time past the second or third hour.

Audio can only go so far to distract me on a multi-hour flight. Movies are better waste of time.

Then, as I prepared for my transatlantic flight to Toronto last month, I realized I needed a solution to help those seven-plus hours pass. In my search for solutions, I came across the AirFly Pro, and now that I’ve used it on a few flights, I have to say it’s the neatest and most versatile little travel gadget.

Airfly Pro plugged into the passenger console of an Air France plane with Google Pixel Buds Pro and Air France headphones

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Most planes these days have a 3.5mm headphone jack, and airlines provide you with a pair of cheap, disposable headphones to plug in. Some older aircraft may have a two-pin outlet (although it’s been a few years since I’ve personally come across them), while newer ones may offer headphones with a pre-wired socket.

AirFly Pro only works when it has a 3.5mm jack. It plugs directly into the in-flight entertainment system and lets you stream audio to your own Bluetooth headphones or pimples. One button turns it on and puts it into pairing mode, and all you have to do is make sure your headphones are also in pairing mode to find and connect.

I plugged it into the plane’s audio output and enjoyed a movie on my own Bluetooth headphones.

I tested it with both of mine Google Pixel Buds Pro and Nothing ear 1, and it works like a charm. Within seconds I was watching a movie on the headrest display in front of me without sacrificing the comfort of my ears. And without wearing the awful-sounding Air France in-ear headphones that have been on countless heads before mine. (I later took another flight where they provided these disposable buds and avoided them too – less e-waste, more comfortable ears, win-win.)

AirFly Pro dongle, focus on the USB-C port

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The best part is that the Pixel Buds Pro can connect to two devices at the same time, so I can easily switch from watching a movie on the airplane display (with AirFly Pro) to listening to music or shooting a video on my phone. ., without pulling out my buds, pressing a button or turning anything on/off. This isn’t a Buds Pro-only feature though — look for headphones or earbuds that offer “Multipoint” functionality and you can have a similarly seamless experience.

In addition to airplanes, this can add Bluetooth output to older TVs and game consoles, iPods and fitness equipment.

Back to the dongle, now. It can be much more. I’m focusing on the travel experience, but you can basically use this to turn anything with a 3.5mm headphone jack into a wireless device. Fitness equipment, iPod Nano or Classic, older TV or game console; the list goes on.

There’s also a split function that lets you route audio to two Bluetooth headphones at the same time, so you can watch the same thing with a friend, sibling or partner in a public place and still enjoy the isolation of your own headphones / pimples.

AirFly Pro dongle, focus on Bluetooth transmit and receive RX switch

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

But there is another side to the equation. See that little TX-RX switch on the side of the AirFly Pro? Move it to the RX position to completely change the way the dongle works.

Now it’s a bluetooth receiver. Plug it into the auxiliary input jack on any car or speaker and it will capture and play any audio from a streaming device like your phone, tablet or computer. So versatile.

One movement and it transforms into a Bluetooth receiver for any car or speaker. Perfect for travel.

During my trip in Canada, I used the dongle in receiver mode in our rental cars to play my favorite tunes. Again, a push of a button allows me to pair it with mine Pixel 6 Pro. I didn’t have to understand the Bluetooth pairing process on each car, I just paired once with the dongle and plugged it into the cars. I kind of regret not trying a similar solution with my old Subaru XV. This car had the most variable Bluetooth connection and failed to see my phone four times out of five; A Bluetooth receiver like this would allow me to bypass it entirely.

Despite its small size, the AirFly Pro’s battery lasts about 16 hours. It lasted a seven-hour flight, a few hours of driving, then almost lasted the same seven-hour flight back. And when it was empty, I just charged it via USB-C and it was ready to go.

If you don’t care about the receiver feature, you can save a few bucks by going for a more basic version of the AirFly. These are the options available now:

  • AirFly ($34.99) is a Bluetooth transmitter only and can only be paired with one set of headphones at a time.
  • The AirFly Duo ($44.99) adds an option to pair and listen to two Bluetooth headphones at the same time.
  • AirFly Pro ($54.99) does all of the above and also acts as a receiver.
  • Discontinued AirFly USB-C (still sold by third-party vendors for $60 or more) was basically the same as the Duo, but with a USB-C plug instead of a 3.5mm jack.

The Pro makes the most sense for my use, but I wish it came with a USB-C converter in the box so I could use it on my Android phones and iPad too.

AirFly Pro top to bottom headphones in a case.

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

It’s incredibly convenient to have a setup ready for every flight and in every car.

Was the AirFly Pro significant in any of the situations I tried it in? Of course not. But it was incredibly convenient to get on a flight or in a car and know I had my own setup ready to go. It’s also so small and portable. That’s why it rightfully deserves a permanent place in my travel bag.

AirFly Pro

AirFly Pro

Great on airplanes • Works in cars • USB-C charging

A universal dongle that lets you use your own Bluetooth headset on airplanes and more

AirFly Pro is a dual-mode Bluetooth dongle. In streaming mode, it can share audio from any device (including airplanes) to a pair of Bluetooth headphones or earphones. In receive mode, it can be plugged into a car or speakers to receive audio from a phone or tablet. It charges via USB-C and lasts 16 hours without charging.

About the author

boustamohamed31

Leave a Comment