A Woman's Headphones Exploded Mid-Flight, And Now The Australian Transport Safety Bureau Has Issued A Warning

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As if there aren't enough things to be nervous about when you're traveling, a warning was just issued by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau after a woman's headphones exploded mid-flight, burning her face and her hands. While the exact cause of the explosion is unknown, the ATSB believes that the incident may have occurred because the headphones were battery-operated.

The woman, who was unidentified in the ATSB's release, had been listening to music with the headphones on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne, when the explosion occurred approximately two hours en route. She said in a statement that she first heard the explosion, and then reacted. "As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face. I just grabbed my face, which caused the headphones to go around my neck," she said. “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.”

According to the ATSB's release, the headphones most likely caught on fire, as the batteries and the cover had both melted and were stuck to the plane floor after the flight crew quickly reacted throwing a bucket of water on the headphones. In the release, they also showed images of the unidentified woman to reiterate the importance of staying aware of the stowage of battery-operated items.

ATSB

Unfortunately, the ATSB says the brand of the headphones in unknown.

The flight did not land after the incident, once the flight crew had ensured the wellbeing of the passenger; however, according to the statement, passengers endured the smell of burnt plastic and burnt hair for the rest of the flight (a flight from Beijing to Melbourne is approximately 11 hours and 30 minutes). “People were coughing and choking the entire way home,” said the woman.

The ATSB went on to remind passengers of proper stowage of battery-operated items, including making sure that batteries are kept in carry-on baggage rather than checked baggage, and that if a passenger loses a device or it falls into the seat gap, they should let a crew member know immediately if it cannot be retrieved. That being said, it appears that the passenger in question was abiding by all of those rules, so let this cautionary tale promote awareness on all battery-operated device fronts — you can never be too careful minding your electronics on an aircraft.