Cirrus EarPlanes earplugs mute loud noises somewhat, but their real purpose is reducing the ear discomfort associated with changes in pressure while flying. They're not the most comfortable earplugs, reviewers say, but they're better than ear pain and you only need to wear them during takeoff and landing. EarPlanes are on the pricey side for a disposable earplug, but those who get relief from them say they're well worth the cost.
They reduce ear pain associated with flying. Most reviewers say that Cirrus EarPlanes do exactly what they're designed to do -- help regulate pressure in your ears, easing the ear discomfort that sometimes develops when an airplane takes off or lands. David Grossman, an experienced traveler and former airline industry executive writing for USA Today, notes that airline colleagues frequently use these earplugs for their own comfort.
EarPlanes only have a noise reduction rating of 20 decibels -- so although they will mute some noises, you may want to switch to different earplugs after takeoff if you need serious noise blocking.
Better than ear pain. Some owners say the EarPlanes' fairly rigid construction can get uncomfortable if you leave them in for a long flight. You only need to wear them during takeoff and landing, though, and reviewers almost always agree that the earplugs still feel better than ear pain. "To maximize effectiveness you have to fuss around with them," explains one Drugstore.com user.
Every so often, a user says EarPlanes actually made their discomfort worse; at least some of the time this is because the adult size is too large for their ears. Quite a few adults say they prefer using the small/child version.
Good for one or two uses. Cirrus EarPlanes cost about $5 per pair, and each pair is meant to be used on just two flights (or one round trip). Cirrus recommends you dispose of them as directed because the filter that helps to regulate the air pressure becomes clogged over time, thereby reducing effectiveness. A few owners say you can clean the filter and eke out six or seven uses from a single pair, but others report a difference in the earplugs' feel and performance after just one use. Still, if you struggle with ear pain during flights and EarPlanes work for you, they're well worth the cost.
More than 85 Amazon.com users give the adult version of Cirrus EarPlanes an overall score of 4.4 stars. Most say they provide good relief from ear pain during takeoff and landing; a few say they're too big, though, and one says they actually got stuck.
Review: Earplanes Pain Reliever Earplugs Adult Size (3 Pair), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2014
More than 75 Amazon.com reviewers give the small/kids size of Cirrus EarPlanes a 4-star average score. Quite a few parents say these work great for their kids during flights, and many adults with small ear canals use them. That said, some parents complain that it's too easy for their kids to take these earplugs out and lose them or get them dirty.
Review: Kids Earplane Ear Plugs for Airplane Travel, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2014
The adult size of Cirrus EarPlanes earns a 4.5-star average rating from about 20 Drugstore.com users. Reviewers say they work great for preventing ear pain due to altitude changes, and one says they're recommended by his doctor. On the downside, these earplugs can be a little uncomfortable and don't block noise well.
Review: EarPlanes Earplugs, Flight Ear Protection, Contributors to Drugstore.com, As of April 2014
The children's version of Cirrus EarPlanes gets a 4.5-star rating from about 15 Drugstore.com users. Many of them are adults who purchase the child/small size to fit their small ear canals; they say EarPlanes fit well and are very effective for clearing their ears during airplane takeoff and landing.
Review: EarPlanes Children's Ear Plugs, Disposable, Contributors to Drugstore.com, As of April 2014
EarPlanes get just a handful of reviews at this specialist online retailer, but every review is glowing. Users say they had no pain with flying and could hear well on landing. One user suggests that if you're an adult with small ear canals, the child size might give you the best fit.
Review: Cirrus EarPlanes Ear Plugs for Flying (NRR 20), Contributors to EarPlugStore.com, As of April 2014
6. USA Today
Grossman, a veteran business traveler and former airline industry executive, interviews an associate professor of otolaryngology about why airplane takeoffs and landings can cause ear pain. Grossman also says that many of his airline colleagues recommended EarPlanes for reducing ear pain and that they're easier to insert and remove than other types of earplugs.
Review: Flying Can Be a Pain in the Ear, David Grossman, June 7, 2004