Who has better “free” 1st class earbuds – Delta Air Lines or American Airlines? A review of both sets.

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Nice pouch AA!

This week I am hopping all over the country on both Delta and American on my way to a PGA event that is paid for via United (who does not love points). Not only that but my first flight was booked with Avios, my next one Delta via PWM to earn MQMs and the last one via American at a stupid price but I just have to start burning my well over 1M dis-AAdvantage points this year.

On to my review of the free headsets you get when you fly domestic business class on either airline and what set comes out on top. First, taking a look at the shot above, AA clearly wins as their cheap plastic pouch is reusable so once you are done with the flight you can tuck the set inside and use them again on the next flight. Delta also brags their set is yours to keep but having a pouch to keep them in would make this better.

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AA wins again for packaging

Next we have two other distinct differences in how they are packaged. The AA ones to me win again as they are very simple to open with the wrapping around cardboard whereas the Delta ones are simply wrapped around themselves. The latter seems like a good idea but depending on how tight it is wrapped it can be a real pain vs. the AA idea. However, most times the Delta ones include a 2-to-1 adapter and this can be handy to have on internationally configured birds with 2 prong vs. single prong sound port that you may end up flying on Delta. I again give the edge to AA for the packaging and to Delta for the adapter.

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AA again best for “feel?!

Now on to the real review and what matters as the quality of the two units. The AA ones crush it in comfort vs. the Delta ones. The AA units, marked R & L for some reason, are tiny and fit well into your ears and feel like very expensive units. The cord is even 6″ longer than the Delta counterpart. When it comes to comfort, the Delta units hurt my ear almost as soon as I put them in. They really are a poor design for comfort.

But when it comes to sound quality here is where Delta wins hands down. The AA units are tinny and simply bad – I mean really bad! After all the reason for headsets is to enjoy sound and the Delta ones have much better base sound and quality (well, quality is not the right word but in comparison to the AA ones let’s say).

Having said all this both units are just junk and barely tolerably even that good for one time use. The AA set, if they did just a little more work on sound quality, could be a nice set to keep and use more than once. The Delta set, use only if you must! – René



  1. The best practice is to always carry a good set for yourself, and a few of the free ones in your carryon to give to anyone nearby who tries to watch a video or listen to music on their own devices with the sound turned up.

  2. @em.Josh – Do you really think it matters on these cheap little buds what goes in left and what goes in right 😉

  3. Oh no, not fair you’re just biased toward Delta 🙂

    Seriously you can buy a fairly decent cheap pair of headphones for under $10 so the ones they offer are just for emergency use anyway. They have improved over the years but the sound quality is rather poor.
    Also if you go to buy a cheap pair try to get the cloth type cord as they seem to be easier to untangle.

  4. Sure R & L matter, even on the cheap ones. For example, when watching a stereo move and the sound follows an actor moving across the screen from right to left it’s very disconcerting to hear the opposite!

  5. DL ones hurt my ears also…I like the free Virgin headsets and reuse them on DL all the time..

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