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Apple refuses refund as batteries blamed for airborne headphone explosion

An Australian victim whose headphones caught fire on an international flight was told her choice of AAA batteries was at fault.

An Australian woman whose face, hands, and hair were burned when her headphones exploded on a plane won't be compensated by manufacturer Apple because third-party batteries were at fault.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was napping on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne in February when she was awoken by the sound of an explosion and a burning sensation on her face.

"Our investigation indicated the issue was caused by a third-party battery," an Apple representative said in a statement issued by the woman's lawyers on Friday.

The woman, who had sought to be reimbursed for her headphones and several items of ruined clothing, said she bought the headphones duty free in 2014, and the AAA batteries in Australia.

She said she was extremely disappointed with Apple's decision.

"The headphones don't work without batteries, yet nowhere on the headphones -- or their packaging -- did it specify which brand of batteries should be used," the woman in a statement.

"As I went to turn around, I felt burning on my face," she 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."

AAP contacted Apple for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.

Following the mid-air incident, the national aviation safety regulator issued a warning to passengers about battery-powered devices.

"Batteries should be kept in an approved stowage, unless in use," the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) warned in March.

The ATSB detailed at the time that the headphones caught fire about two hours into the flight.

Flight attendants placed the burning headphones into a bucket of water; however, the battery and cover were melted onto the cabin's floor. The ATSB said passengers were left with the aroma of burnt plastic, burnt hair, and melted plastic for the rest of the trip to Melbourne.

The ATSB also said in March that it found the batteries were at fault.

Last year, Apple took the self-described courageous decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, forcing users to use battery-powered bluetooth headphones rather than wired headphones.

HTC has since followed suit and remove the jack from its U Ultra handset.

A series of explosions eventually led to Samsung's ill-fated Note 7 being banned from flights due to its propensity to turn into a ball of flame and smouldering plastic.

A four-month internal investigation by Samsung pinned defects in the batteries used in the device for the explosions, with the company introducing an eight-step battery safety check to attempt to prevent further incidents.

With AAP