A passenger was left with burns, scalded hair and an ash-covered face after her headphones exploded on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne.

The passenger, who has not been named, had been using battery-powered headphones to listen to music. Two hours into the journey, while she was sleeping, the headphones exploded.

The passenger
(ATSB)

“As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” she told the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). “I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck.”

Still feeling burning she threw the headphones, sparking and partially on fire, onto the floor. Flight attendants were quickly on hand to pour a bucket of water on the burning headphones but the battery and cover had melted and stuck to the floor.

The burn on her hand
(ATSB)

Fortunately for the passenger, she was left with relatively minor burns, a blackened face and the the rather unpleasant smell of melted plastic and burnt hair.

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

The passenger with burns
(ATSB)

The ATSB believe it was the batteries which caused the device to catch fire and such battery explosions aren’t unheard of on flights.

In 2012 the Federal Aviation Administration in the US reported a series of similar incidents including one which culminated in a passenger’s bag arriving at the carousel for collection billowing smoke. Speaking to the BBC in 2014 the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority warned lithium batteries, particularly cheap ones, could pose a serious safety threat on aircraft.