Continental’s In-flight Headphones Make Ears Bleed

51-year-old Vanessa Saunder is suing Continental Airlines after defective in-flight headphones blew out her hearing. She says that mid-flight,

    “There was a lot of static and all of a sudden there was one huge ‘Bang!'”

    “I threw [the headphones] off and screamed. My ears started to bleed. It blew out everyone’s headsets in my row.”

The stewardesses gave her a Scotch. Now Saunder says she needs new $9,000 hearing aids and her life sucks.

    “People tell me I shout at them. And when I watch television, for my family it is a nightmare because I have it so loud.”

For the pleasure of blood shooting out her lobes, Saunder paid Continental a $5 headphone rental fee.

Inflight film made her ears really pop” [NYDN]

(Thanks to c-side!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Chongo says:

    How did she get blood past the TSA agents?

  2. d0x says:

    Those must have been the greatest headphones known to man! How did they produce a sound so loud as to cause her eardrums to explode and bleed everywhere?

    Even if there was a powersurge there is no way this could happen in a sane world because the drivers on those cheap headphones are so damn small they shouldnt even be capable of producing such sounds.

    I dont know, this sounds kind of fishy to me. The article said she already suffered from hearing loss so there was a pre-existing problem here. Its quite possible the bleeding was caused by the frequency of the sound and cabin pressure but I doubt either alone would do this.

    The airline should bite the bullet and buy hear a hearing aid and then wash their hands of it. Its not like something like this could really be prevented.

  3. Ick.

    Last time I flew, the headphones were horrible. They popped once on me and I said screw it. Didn’t burst my eardrums though.

    I didn’t need to watch the rest of ‘The Pacifier’ anyway.

    And couldn’t she get a tv with close captioning instead of having her tv so loud?

  4. wikkit says:

    Is it possible for the suspended magnet in the speaker to launch out as a projectile? I’ve always wondered this. In those cheap headphones the only thing holding the magnet in is the paper cone. It seems plausible, to me at least, that a loud tone in headphones with a weakened cone could send the driver magnet flying.

    The article does read like she’s a leaching oppurtunist though.

  5. comedian says:

    She alread wore hearing aids before this incident, though she wasn’t wearing at the time the headphones allegedly “banged.”

    Saunders had suffered some hearing loss about 20 years ago due to meningitis. She was not wearing her hearing aids at the time of the airplane incident.

    But her lawyer, Michael Mossberg, said her hearing has deteriorated so much that she needs more powerful hearing aids, which cost $9,000.Strange. I wonder if the scotch they offered her was more powerful than her normal scotch?

  6. Pelagius says:

    You watch “Fat Albert: The Movie”, you take your chances…

    Sounds like someone fishing for a fat settlement. Why would it only affect her?

  7. IsenMike says:

    I had a problem like this the last time I flew JetBlue. Not permanent-ear-damage bad, but pretty painful. Every time the captain would come on over the speakers, he would be preceeded by a really loud, really painful POP on the headphones. No fun at all.

  8. RumorsDaily says:

    It seems reasonably difficult to fake bleeding eardrums, people tend to notice if you have blood pouring from your ears. So, let’s assume that she did indeed receive an injury that left her bleeding from the ears.

    I’m pretty much ok saying that if you’re dedicated enough to a scam to jam something into your ear hard enough to cause it to bleed, you should be rewarded for your sheer intensity. Hell, she’s not even really asking for that much. If she really is faking it, good for her. I can promise that I will never, ever go this far for the sake of scamming a free hearing aid.

    Also, isn’t it weird that the word ‘hear’ has the word ‘ear’ inside of it, while the words ‘sight’ or ‘see’ don’t have the word ‘eye’ in them?

  9. homerjay says:

    She probably ripped off the headphones so fast that the cord wrapped around her earring and ripped her ear apart.

    Either way, I think this is a job for Mythbusters!
    I’m submitting it.

  10. homerjay says:

    by the way, I REALLY could have gone without seeing that picture….

  11. FLConsumer says:

    I call BULLSHIT! I highly doubt Continental would rent decent ‘phones for $5… Your typical pair of walkman-style headphones can’t possibly damage hearing from instantaneous impulses because there isn’t a large enough diaphragm & magnet inside of them to do so. I’m sure they can make some nasty noises, esp. when you hit DC offset issues like with the cabin intercom cutting in, BUT, they’re not going to cause bleeding of the eardrum.

    If she DID have blood coming from her ears, this sort of thing was from a previous injury and isn’t something that the airline would be responsible for.

  12. TVarmy says:

    It’s not unheard of for eardrums to spontaniously rupture from the low pressure on airplanes, as said in this Straight Dope Colum:

    Read the last paragraph. In short, EWWW!

  13. AcidReign says:

    …..I’m a veteran of cranking headphones to the max. Heck, I even bought (and regularly crank!) a wonderful Creek Headphone amp, with a power-supply the size of a shoebox. And I’ve never managed to make my ears bleed. As noted earlier in the comments, this isn’t really possible, at least from sound pressure.

    …..On the other hand, I do acnowledge that having a huge ear-bleed on a flight would be pretty frightening! The airline may be at fault, but not because of the headphones.

    …..I’m even more concerned about her hair loss. If the picture’s accurate, she’s about in the same boat I’m in. And Nair will take will take care of that soul patch!

  14. FLConsumer says:

    TVarmy: yes, that, I’d believe… ‘though very uncommon and definitely NOT linked to the headphone usage.

    Acid: easy on the volume levels… As a sound engineer, I’ve encountered plenty of big-name musicians who can’t hear worth shit now.

  15. Musician78 says:

    As grotesque as that picture is, I am experiencing a great deal of difficulty in looking away from it.

  16. And couldn’t she get a tv with close captioning instead of having her tv so loud?

    It may be that my tv is kinda cheap but while in some cases the close captioning works fine, it is difficult to follow the captions on the news, live television, or any programming that has the captions being typed up as the show goes along.

  17. Slack says:

    Article is not specific…

    Could these headphones have been the old-school pnuematic style. Perhaps maintenance crossed the lines on the that side of the plane with the commode, and someone flushed in-flicght & sucked out 50 peoples’ eardrums.

    Just sayin…

  18. Slack says:

    Article is not specific…

    Perhaps the headphones were old-school pnuematic. Maintenance crossed a line wish the commode & whoosh! and in-flight dump suck the air out of half the plane’s ear canal’s

    Her drums rupture being the weakest.

    Just sayin…