Headphones catch fire mid-flight, injuring airline passenger

A woman has suffered burns and blisters after her headphones overheated during a flight from Beijing to Melbourne.

The passenger was asleep while listening to her battery-powered headphones when the explosion woke her up. "As I went to turn around, I felt burning on my face," she told the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

"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," she said.

MORE: Best headphones 2017

Flight attendants quickly came to her aid, dousing the headphones with water. The headphones were then placed in a bucket at the rear of the plane.

Luckily, the woman wasn't seriously injured. Fellow passengers complained of the smell of melted plastic, burnt electronics and singed hair for the remainder of the flight. "People were coughing and choking the entire way home," the woman said.

The brand and model of the headphones isn't known, though the presence of a battery suggests that they were wireless or noise-cancelling headphones.

Last year, Samsung was forced to recall the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after a spate of incidents in which it caught fire.

To avoid any incidents mid-flight, the authorities recommend passengers keep spare batteries in their carry-on bags, not in their hold baggage.

MORE: 10 of the best over-ear headphones

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.