This small Bluetooth dongle is now my essential travel and road trip companion

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

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Flights are boring, longer ones even more so. Having picky ears that despise almost any earbud shape or size, I often struggle with the standard in-flight entertainment options. Over the past few years I’ve resorted to downloading a few podcasts and playlists and listening to them using my own trusty convenient Bluetooth buds. It’s a minimalist setup, but it works for me and allows me to cram a tablet or laptop into the small space in front of me.

Looking at my husband next to me, I still envied him how he could just take any earphone or headset provided on the plane and use it with the inflight entertainment system. On our four-hour drives back home to Lebanon, he gets to watch two films while I’m struggling to pass the time after the second or third hour.

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

As I prepared for my transatlantic flight to Toronto last month, I realized I needed a solution to bridge those 7+ hours. 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 by far the nicest and most versatile little travel rig.

Airfly Pro connected to the passenger console of an Air France aircraft 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 will provide you with a pair of cheap disposable earphones to plug in. Some older planes may have the two-pin output (although it’s been a few years since I’ve personally come across it). ), while newer ones may offer pre-plugged headphones.

The AirFly Pro will only work if there is a 3.5mm jack. It connects directly to the inflight entertainment system and allows audio to be streamed to your own Bluetooth headphones or buds. One button turns it on and puts it into pairing mode, and all you have to do is make sure your headset is also in pairing mode so they can find and connect.

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

I tested it with both my Google Pixel Buds Pro and Nothing Ear 1 and it worked like clockwork. In a matter of 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 on-ear headphones that have been on countless heads before me. (Later I took another flight where they provided those disposable buds and avoided them too – less e-waste, more comfortable ears, a win-win for everyone.)

AirFly Pro dongle, focus on the USB-C connector

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Best of all, the Pixel Buds Pro can connect to two devices at the same time, so I can easily go from watching a movie on the plane’s display (using the AirFly Pro) to listening to music or catching a video on my phone without taking my buds out, pressing a button, or plugging/unplugging anything. This isn’t a Buds Pro-only feature though – look for headphones or buds that offer “multipoint” functionality and you can have a similarly seamless experience.

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

Now back to the dongle. It can do so much more. I’m focusing on the travel experience, but you can use it to turn basically anything with a 3.5mm headset output into a wireless device. Fitness equipment, an iPod Nano or Classic, an older TV or games console; The list goes on.

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There’s also a splitter feature that lets you route audio to two Bluetooth headsets 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 individual headphones. buds.

AirFly Pro dongle, focus on Bluetooth transmit TX and receive RX switcher

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 how the dongle works.

Now it’s a bluetooth receiver. Plug it into the AUX-in jack of any car or speaker and it will capture and play back any audio from an emitting device such as your phone, tablet or computer. So versatile.

One flick of the wrist and it turns into a Bluetooth receiver for any car or speaker. Perfect for road trips.

During my Canada trip I used the dongle in receiver mode in our rental cars to play my favorite music. Again, a button press let me pair it with my Pixel 6 Pro. I didn’t have to figure out each car’s bluetooth pairing process, I just paired with the dongle once and plugged it into the cars. I kinda regret not trying such a solution with my old Subaru XV. This car had the most inconsistent Bluetooth connection and couldn’t see my phone four times out of five; With a Bluetooth receiver like this, I could have bypassed that completely.

Despite its tiny size, the AirFly Pro’s battery lasts around 16 hours. It managed a seven-hour flight, a couple of hours of driving, and then survived almost the same seven-hour flight back. And when it ran out, I just charged it via USB-C and it was ready to go.

If you don’t care about the receiver function, you can save a few bucks by choosing a more basic AirFly version. These are the options offered now:

  • The AirFly ($34.99) is a Bluetooth only transmitter and can only be paired with one pair of headphones at a time.
  • The AirFly Duo ($44.99) adds the option to pair and listen to two Bluetooth headsets at the same time.
  • The AirFly Pro ($54.99) does all of that and doubles as a receiver.
  • A 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 connector instead of the 3.5mm jack.
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The Pro makes the most sense for my use, but I wish it came with a USB-C converter in the box so I can use it on my Android phones and iPad too.

AirFly Pro top down next to earbuds in a case.

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

It’s incredibly handy to have my setup ready for every flight and car.

Was the AirFly Pro essential in any of the situations I tried it in? No of course not. But it was incredibly convenient to hop on a flight or in a car and know that I had my own setup ready. And it’s so small and portable. That’s why it rightly deserves a permanent place in my travel bag.

AirFly Pro

AirFly Pro

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

A versatile dongle that allows you to use your own Bluetooth headset on planes and more

The AirFly Pro is a dual mode Bluetooth dongle. In transmit mode, it can pass audio from any device (including airplanes) to a pair of Bluetooth buds or headphones. 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 on one charge.

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