The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) reported the incident on its website as a warning of the increased potential for battery fires and explosions when flying due to a wider range of battery-operated products.
According to the ATSB, the passenger was listening to music while sleeping when she heard a loud explosion about two hours into the flight.
"As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face," the anonymous passenger 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."
Flight attendants poured a bucket of water onto the headphones, then put them into a bucket at the back of the plane. The battery and cover remained stuck to the floor, with the ATSB suspecting the battery caught fire and melted.
Other passengers were "coughing and choking the entire way home" due to the smell of melted plastic, burnt electronics and burnt hair, according to the passenger.
The ATSB issued the following advice to passengers travelling with battery-powered devices:
- batteries should be kept in an approved stowage, unless in use
- spare batteries must be in your carry-on baggage NOT checked baggage
- if a passenger's smart phone or other device has fallen into the seat gap, locate their device before moving powered seats
- if a passenger cannot locate their device, they should refrain from moving their seat and immediately contact a cabin crew member.