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Opinion

Noise-cancelling headphones to shout about

This piece of summer technology that can save your holiday

Technology can be a proper pain in the backside. Facebook knows your inside-leg measurement, even if you've never set foot on the site; Wi-Fi's less reliable than an MP's expenses claim; and my printer pretends it's run out of ink six months before it actually has. But technology can also be magnificent, and if you're jetting off on a long-haul flight this summer, I urge you to make one never-to-be-regretted investment: noise-cancelling headphones.

The headphones I'm talking about are Sony's WH-1000XM3 widely regarded to be the best noise-cancelling cans on the market at the moment, and so they flipping well should be at around 270. Seriously, though, suck it up, because they are immense and quite possibly the reason I'm not doing time for infanticide following my return flight from Cancun this summer.

I knew I had to have those headphones the moment I booked our seats on the flight. The plane layout meant that one of our family of four would have to sit next to complete strangers for the 10-hour journey and that inevitably was going to be me.

On the way out, I struck it lucky and was sat next to a retired couple, who showed no interest in talking to me and exhibited no troubling personal hygiene problems. Karma bit me on the backside on the way back, though.

As I approached my seat, all I could see was a woman sat next to the window and nobody in between her and my aisle seat. My faint hope of a spare seat was kicked in the kneecaps when I reached 34C to find three-year-old Charley sat in the middle seat, tucking into a mountain of Fruit Pastilles. "Are you sitting next to me?" she asked, as my jaw dropped into the hold. Her mother shot me a look of apologetic pity, then opened a can of Coke for Charley to stop her talking for 15 seconds or so.

You'll be shocked to hear that a kid smacked up to her few remaining milk teeth on sweets and fizzy drinks showed little interest in sleeping on the overnight flight. But it didn't really matter, because 20 minutes into the journey after surrendering half my bag of Skittles and our third rendition of Wheels on the Bus I slipped on my Sonys and blanked Charley out.

I couldn't hear a thing. No Charley, no engine noise and no dull pings of the call button when Charley's mum wanted her hourly top-up of Bacardi and Paracetamol. Nothing but the music or movie soundtrack that I wanted to listen to as I drifted into a fitful doze. The noise-cancelling is absolutely sensational. And given that these things have a genuine 30-hour battery life, I didn't need to recharge them once on the entire trip, even though they were in near constant use on both flights.

Of course, the headphones couldn't save me from every long-haul inconvenience. I was still interrupted a dozen times when Charley needed to drain the glucose from her system. But in 10 years' time, when Sony invents the toddler-cancelling body suit, I'll be the first to place a pre-order.

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