A Peaceful Snooze on a Plane, Then an Explosion

Woman's headphones caught fire as she flew from Beijing to Melbourne in February
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2017 9:57 AM CDT

A flight from Beijing to Melbourne, Australia, turned terrifying last month when a woman's headphones exploded midflight, burning her hands, face, and hair, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The unidentified woman had dozed off a couple of hours into the Feb. 19 flight while wearing the headphones, and per an Australian Transport Safety Bureau warning issued about the incident, she awoke to a loud bang and a burning sensation on her face. She was able to gather her wits, grab the headphones, and hurl them to the floor, where she says they were "sparking" and "had small amounts of fire." Flight attendants came running with a bucket of water to douse the device, part of which had melted and stuck to the floor of the plane. The ATSB release shows images of the woman's face and neck covered in black soot and with burns and blisters on her hand.

"People were coughing and choking the entire way home," one passenger says about the cabin's acrid smell. An ATSB rep tells ABC Australia that although this is the first report in the country about a pair of headphones exploding, other devices—including phones and a personal air purifier—have gone up in smoke. An Australia Civil Aviation Safety Authority rep tells CNN they'll be looking more into what happened to see if the headphones themselves were damaged, sparking the explosion, or if the blame falls on the batteries. In the meantime, the ATSB, which has declined to say what battery brand was involved, reminds travelers that extra device batteries should go in carry-on bags, not checked luggage, and that if a phone or other device falls between the seats, one should dig the device out or call for the crew's help before moving the seat. (Exploding e-cigs have also been an issue.)

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