A few weeks ago, the AirFly SE showed up at the Gizmodo Australia office, a small gadget with an audio jack attachment, one that reminded me of the internet dongle I had during uni.
The pitch from the AirFly is pretty simple: The easiest way to use your wireless headphones with in-flight audio.
The only planes the team have been on in the time since the AirFly showed up have been domestic flights, ones without a back-of-the-seat screen and therefore without a headphone slot. So we decided to improvise. Welcome to the Gizmodo Australia private plane.
AirFly SE Bluetooth Transmitter
The AirFly SE Bluetooth Transmitter comes by way of Twelve South. It’s a $60 gadget that plugs into an audio jack and allows you to connect earbuds/headphones to the media, via the dongle, to save you from having to use the awful airline-provided pair. It’s….pretty straightforward, and it works, well.
The SE is the cheapest/entry-level AirFly model the company sells and only allows for one connection. The Duo and the Pro will boost that to two. The SE has 20 hours of battery, the Duo 22, and the Pro has 25. The top-tier Pro also has aux-in capabilities (and a keyring).
Setting the AirFly up was super easy. Switching the Bluetooth off on my MacBook, I plugged the AirFly SE into the headphone jack, switched it on, and paired my AirPods (all I had to do was press the pair button on the AirPods case and the AirFly dongle connected itself). The next step was…press play on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
While the dongle has volume and mute controls, the audio was easier to control via the MacBook, so if you’re using this device on an actual plane, it’s safe to assume the entertainment system controls would be where you set the volume.
Of course, I only watched a total of 20 minutes of Nine-Nine, which isn’t long enough to test the AirFly’s battery life, but Twelve South reckons you’ll get 20 hours, which is enough to fly from Sydney to Los Angeles, just not quite enough to go to London. When it dies, you plug it into a USB-A outlet – something the plane you’re on will likely have. You can check the battery status via the on-device controls. Not too sure on charge up time, I wasn’t going to sit there for 20 hours just to test this.
While I used a pair of AirPods Pro, Twelve South says it’s compatible with all Bluetooth-capable headphones/earbuds.
Of course, you can also use the AirFly at the gym or to connect your Bluetooth earbuds to anything that usually requires an audio jack.
This is probably the quickest, and shortest, review we’ve ever done at Gizmodo Australia, but I genuinely don’t have anything bad to say about the AirFly SE. It allows you to use your own headphones/earbuds on a plane and other places where a prehistoric wired pair of headphones are otherwise required, it has a great battery life, and it works, well.
The AirFly is a great idea, and for $60, it’s worth every penny, especially if you’re someone like me who can’t sleep on a flight and uses the airline headphones begrudgingly.
Where to buy the AirFly SE
Strangely, the AirFly SE seems to be out of stock everywhere except for JB Hi-Fi, where you can pick one up for $59.95.
The AirFly Pro, however, can be found basically everywhere, including: