Depends on the airline. There are certain ones, such as MyTravel, whose policy is that "portable electronic devices including CD
players and laptop computers must not be used at any time as they can interfere with the aircraft's navigation systems" (well, that was the policy when they were Airtours anyway, I'm not sure if it's the same now.) Which, I assume, is a load of b******s because other airlines operating the same type of aircraft (A32x, A330, 757) have absolutely no problem with it. It's obviously a marketing ploy... if you can't listen to your CD
player, you have to buy a set of their headphones so you can watch their IFE instead.
On my Airtours flights in 2001 (pre-MyTravel), I asked a F/A whether I could listen to my CD
player, as I was unsure of the company's policy... and he said quietly "yeah, go on it'll be fine". Which proves my point.
Another thing that annoyed me was the fact that the sockets on their aircraft have a double 3.5mm stereo socket, rather than the standard single one, and, according to them, you have to buy their headphones to be able to use it. Rubbish. All you have to do is plug your CD
phones into one of the sockets and leave the other one empty, and it works normally. I know this won't apply to AA
, but beware of this particularly on charter airlines, who try and sell you one thing after another for most of the flight.
On most airlines I fly with, you can use them as soon as the seat-belt sign has gone off, this appears to be the general rule over here. I don't know about the US, but like people have said above, if you're in doubt, just ask.
Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away...