Exploding Headphones – That’s Not Inflight Entertainment

Open Jaw

How about Sudoku? A crossword puzzle? Or maybe read a novel? This whole device-centred diversion trend for air pax is getting a little scary.

A woman on a Melbourne-bound international flight suffered burns after the battery-operated headphones she was wearing exploded and caught fire while she dozed.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued graphic photos as a warning to others of the risk.

This type of incident is rare, the ATSB notes, but with the range of products using batteries constantly growing, “the potential for in-flight issues increases.”

This was definitely an issue. On a flight from PEK to MEL, a female passenger was listening to music using a pair of her own battery-operated headphones. After falling asleep she was awakened by a loud noise.

“As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” she said. “I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck.

“I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor. They were sparking and had small amounts of fire. As I went to stamp my foot on them the flight attendants were already there with a bucket of water to pour on them. They put them into the bucket at the rear of the plane.”

The battery and cover were melted and stuck to the floor of the aircraft.

Flight attendants returned to check on her wellbeing, which as you can see from the photos wasn’t great. And as eGlobal Travel Media reports, for the remainder of the flight, passengers endured the smell of melted plastic, burnt electronics and burnt hair.

“People were coughing and choking the entire way home,” the passenger said.

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