Surrounded by three screaming babies on an international flight, I figured my chances for sleeping were close to zero — until I put on these noise-cancelling headphones.

By Nina Huang
November 03, 2019
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Courtesy of Amazon

Experience has taught me that no matter how sleepy you might be, or how many foam ear plugs flight attendants might hand you, nothing will get you through an overnight flight with screaming children unless you have a pair of fantastic noise-cancelling headphones. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore babies and their chubby little cheeks, but I simply find them less adorable when they’re crying at the top of their lungs as I try to get some rest on a long-haul flight. 

For that same reason, I was extra careful to pack my new Sony noise-cancelling headphones this past March when I was preparing to take a 15-hour flight back home to Taiwan. It had been a long day, and I was desperate to get some sleep on the plane. After putting away my hand luggage in the overhead storage bin and shoving my bag of toiletries into the seat-back pocket, I discovered, to my horror, that I was seated at the window seat and surrounded by a family with three baby daughters, all of whom instantly started crying the second our plane pushed back from the gate. 

I told myself that it could get better, and that these sweet-looking girls might eventually fall quiet during the 15-hour flight. Yet half an hour later, two of the three daughters sitting behind me with their mother started screaming over who got to draw on their coloring book. The two girls’ yells no doubt unsettled the daughter seated next to me with her father, and she began wailing into his arms soon after too. 

By this point, it was already past 2 a.m. in my time zone, and while I was resigned to endure the children’s disruptions, I was determined to get at least a couple intermittent hours of shut eye. Thankfully, I still remembered the Sony noise-cancelling headphones that I had mindfully packed into my bag, and I immediately put them on. I turned on the headphones, switched to noise-cancelling mode, selected my classical music playlist, and closed my eyes. To my relief, I could no longer hear a single cry, gasp, sniffle, or protest from the three girls anymore. I pulled my sleeping mask over my eyes, and fell asleep as Schumann and Chopin filled my ears. 

The next thing I knew, I was woken up by a flight attendant who was offering me a choice of steamed rice or scrambled eggs for breakfast. I had managed to sleep for nearly 12 hours straight, with only three hours of flight-time left. The noise-cancelling abilities of these headphones were so consistent that when the flight attendant spoke to me, I still couldn’t hear a thing. Conveniently, the touch controls on these headphones meant that I merely had to hover my hand over my right ear to pause the noise-cancelling and switch to ambient sound controls, so that I could hear what was being said without taking the headphones off. 

For the rest of the flight, I rewatched some Game of Thrones episodes that were available on the in-flight entertainment system, and after connecting my headphones into the screen with their adapters, it was as if I was watching the episodes in the quiet of my own apartment. When my flight landed, it was 5 a.m. local time, and I actually felt rested enough to take on the new day. As I was deplaning, the father of the three girls turned to me apologetically to say that he hoped I wasn’t too troubled by their children’s noises. I smiled, gesturing to my headphones, and replied that I genuinely didn’t hear a thing. 

Courtesy of Amazon

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