American Airlines Dropping Bose Headphones In Favor Of Bang & Olufsen

Filed Under: American

One of the things that has long impressed me about American Airlines is that they offer Bose headphones in their international first and business class cabins.

American’s Bose headphones

You’d think this would be a reasonable investment for an airline to make, given that the seat itself costs tens of thousands of dollars, and great headphones cost a few hundred dollars at retail. In reality they’re probably paying very little for them, given that it’s great promotion for Bose.

While we’re on the subject, while I like that American has Bose headphones, it drives me bonkers how American flight attendants collect them so long before landing. I get it’s often not within their control and they have to make sure they’re all accounted for, though I wish American would just wire the headphones so they’re permanently attached to the seats, and don’t have to be collected. I can’t count how often I’ve been woken up by the loud announcement 45 minutes before landing saying that they’re collecting headphones soon.

Lufthansa also has Bose headphones in first class, but wires them to the seats

The headphone department is an area where American has long been industry-leading. Even some of the world’s best airlines have not-great headphones in first class.

Oman Air’s first class headphones

While not a first class product, I do think it’s also worth mentioning that there’s a special place in hell for Delta’s LSTN headphones, which are awful. It’s one thing to have unbranded headphones that aren’t good, but Delta made a big deal of introducing these, and they’re just not any good.

So that’s why it’s interesting to note that American will be changing up their headphones next year.

As reported by Economy Class & Beyond, American will be replacing Bose headphones with Bang & Olufsen headphones in the first half of 2019.

If I’m reading between the lines correctly, it seems like Bose wasn’t seeing much of a return with offering these headphones anymore, given that just about everyone is familiar with their headphones at this point. So it sounds to me like Bose wanted more out of this, and American wasn’t willing to pay the price.

The good news is that Bang & Olufsen is arguably an even better brand (at least that’s what I’m always told), and I think this could be very smart product placement for them, since not as many people are familiar with their headphones.

Bang & Olufsen has several different models of headphones, and I’m told that in the coming months we’ll learn more details about American’s headphones transition.

What do you make of American switching from Bose to Bang & Olufsen?

  1. B&O. Ooh..fancy.

    I agree that Delta headphones are god-awful. I don’t know why they upgraded everything else (bedding, food, etc.) EXCEPT the headphones. I just wind up using my cheap $50 noise cancelling ear buds instead.

  2. Agree with the Delta headphones. I just don’t know what they’re thinking. I got a couple of other LSTN products in a free promo once and those were awful too, so it’s not like Delta tried some other great LSTN products and then something went wrong with the model they selected for onboard.

  3. Must be following trump economics.

    Make a lot of noise about buying American made but actually buying something foreign made. Trump and his supporters are assholes like that.

    Don’t you hate hypocrites.

  4. Get ready for some actual quality. Not American bling, but real quality from Scandinavia.

    I guarantee you won’t like their high-end, minimal, top notch design, though. Given that’s it’s pretty much everything EK F isn’t (B&O is the opposite of tacky).

    Good move, American Airlines.

  5. Picking style over substance with B&O. Headphones will be perfectly good but wouldn’t consider this a major upgrade.

  6. As long as I can use my own headphones it doesn’t matter but sometimes the connection is non-standard and I can’t use my own head phones. I’m not sure how common that is, or if there are workarounds in those cases (FWIW, I have a pair of the Bose QC25s).

  7. Not sure what headphones have to do with President Trump but…. Bose headphones are mostly made in Mexico, Malaysia and China. I think the B&O stuff is mostly made in China now. Keep in mind that China and other countries can make good products it’s usually about the specs that the parent company wants. I would have thought that Sony would pony up the marketing money for this product placement. Matters little to me personally as I usually bring my own.

  8. @Debit… do you always interject politics into your comments or is this just a one off? This is a headphones discussion for gosh sakes.

  9. Are the new headphones also noise cancelling headphones, or are they just quality headphones for entertainment?

  10. Bang and Olufsen is definetly a quality brand. My B&O speakers was purschased by my grandmother’s sister back in 1968 and I’m using them daily and they are still going strong with arguably better sound quality than by Bose Quitecomfort headphones. As noted in the comments, true Scandinavian quality and a great move by both American and B&O.

  11. @Daniel – I’d hope noise cancelling. Sadly, Doug Parker ran away before I could ask that question.

    Let’s face it. The last orders for Bose headphones went in LAST YEAR, and the industry is doing make do and mend currently, or burning through existing stock.

    There’s going to a lot of airlines switching out headphone brands soon when they can’t support them any more.

    Kevin (who broke the news with John, Seth and others)

  12. B&O headphones are excellent at reproducing every sound. They’re going to highlight every hiss, crackle, and pop the mediocre audio system will utter. They really need to be matched with a high end audio system. American doesn’t have one.

  13. Never understand why FFs don’t carry their own NC headphones or in-ears. It’s one less potential annoyance on a plane and I know my QC25s work. Even better since I bought the clever bespoke adaptor that makes them Bluetooth without having to shell out another $350 to Bose.

  14. I personally have no problem with the small (AVIS ad branded) earphones they handout to premium class passengers, once they have taken back the Bose headphones. Just saying!

  15. For those that use their Bose QC35s, how do you connect them to the airplane audio system? Usually the port entry is different and wont allow the Bose to connect…

  16. @Schar you have to use a cable and Bose provide a 2 pin adapter. The third pin on most IFE systems is to power the headphone.

  17. Bose has the industry leading noise cancelling product. Period. Decades of refinement. The B&O will not be as good. (Not that I care, I never fly AA.)

  18. @Kacee

    so good that Bose doesn’t publish technical specs. Why do you think that is? It’s decent but way overpriced and marketed towards people that don’t know any better. no audiophile would buy bose.

  19. Far superior audio, but a downgrade in Noise Canceling. I do wonder which model they will provide. The H9i versus the H8i are far different in terms of comfort.

  20. @tim:

    I’m no audiophile but like a nice set of headphones. What would you recommend that is in the same price range as Bose QC35s?

  21. I would say Bang & Olufsen would be a more superior brand, generally speaking. One of my old college roommates once said to me that Bose make pretty good headphones, but they are better at marketing. Basically, the Bose headphones are just okay, but they charge people so much for them, because of their marketing superiority. B&O was featured in The Devil Wears Prada. Not sure does it mean that they are even better at marketing or Hollywood agrees that Bang and Olufsen is better. At least, their stores look much nicer compared to Bose, in general.

  22. @Kacee
    Bose no longer has the industry leading noise cancelling tech. Sony’s 1000XM3 took the crown (I’ve yet to see a single reviewer who doesn’t agree with that assessment) as of 2 weeks ago.

    Bang & Olufsen’s main brand is superior, but the Beoplay is much less so. It’s still quality headphones, but it’s definitely not the marquee stuff.

  23. if only american airlines now were to sell these off at auction then we can all have our own. dont dump them it would be a waste.

  24. Since I’m sensing that “a special place in hell ” could become your new “color me this or that” …..please don’t, It ruins the whole post.

  25. Brand new Bang & Olufsen headphones today on the JFK-LAX trans con. Went to JFK with Bose, returned with still in the wrapper Bang & Olufsen. if you are sitting on the A/C side in J, the cord is simply too short, to put the headphones on correctly, without having them pulled out off the socket. While noise canceling, they do not cup over the ear, lay flat.

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