Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I Always Wear Cheap Earplugs On Airplanes

There’s been a lot written in travel columns for several years about noise-canceling headphones. I even own a pair or two, and I take them on ultra-long overseas flights like LAX-Sydney and ATL-Johannesburg.

But they are a bit of a nuisance.

Nowadays airlines forbid their use as an “electronic device” after the door is closed until after takeoff and again before landing. Headphones require fresh batteries to be effective. Many models fold, but they still add bulk and weight to my chronically over-stuffed briefcase. And all of them hurt my ears after hours of wearing and slip off when I sleep. Not to mention that they are expensive!

Just one more darn thing to fumble around with on the road.

So for day-in, day-out domestic air travel nothing beats a cheap pair of disposable earplugs. I buy them at places like Home Depot for a few pennies per and wear each pair several times before tossing. They don’t require a battery; they have no electronics; they're light, small, and comfortable; and, best of all, they work well.

Why do I wear them? Well, first, because airline public address systems tend to be tuned to the hard-of-hearing. They are turned up to a volume that hurts my ears when announcements are made. Most industrial earplugs have been designed and engineered to meet noise reduction standards required by OSHA for working in high decibel factory environments, so they work beautifully to tone down—not tune out—announcements.

Then there are the incessant pre-flight and after-landing cell phone calls, the unremitting babel of closeby neighbors on cramped RJs, and, famously, crying babies.

I wear cheap throwaway earplugs throughout every flight. I recommend you give it a try. You’ll be amazed at the sense of privacy wearing them imparts.


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