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Old Apr 6, 10, 2:33 pm
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Whistler, Canada
Programs: Air Canada Elite , Hilton Honors
Posts: 283
Does Cabin Air Rot Headphones?

This will risk sounding like an ad for Bose so I'll start with the bad news.
My original QC2 headphones were bought in 2004 and served me well for a couple of years of SE level travel, mostly on AC and UA metal. I don't use them nearly as much now that I'm retired and they have always been transported in the semi-hard case.

I was really happy with the noise reduction but started to question the quality when the power switch started to go on me 2 years ago. Then the ear cushions began to disintegrate and I ended every flight covered in a mess of tiny black granules shed from the cushions. Not fine.
On my last flight the plastic pieces holding headband together totally self-destructed leaving me holding the brittle shards that didn't end up down the seat and all over the floor. Really not fine.

The plastic parts and cushions appear to have "aged" more rapidly than can be accounted for from the age and use of the headphones. Is it possible that the cabin air mix might be contributing to the premature failure? I do notice the smell of ozone on many of my AC flights, really pungent on a trip lately, and am concerned that if the cabin air is rotting my headphones, what is it doing to my lungs and eyeballs?

Bose notes that they have had "some problems" but normally failures happen in the first couple of month of use. To their great credit, they offered me a great deal on exchanging my QC2s for a new pair of QC15s. It was a bit more than half the new cost which is still a bit of coin so I looked around for better/cheaper. I didn't find anything. When I called Bose to accept their offer, they took a whack of money off the original replacement offer so I was a happy camper. ( is this "bait and hook"?)
I'm even happier now that I have received the QC15s. They are similar to the QC2 but lighter weight and the noise reduction is an order of magnitude better. (Sorry, I warned about the Bose spam)

This still leaves the question of how to protect my headphones from a fate similar to my previous experience. I expect that merely flying less will help but what say you all? Should I be cleaning the headphones more often or treating them with something?
All observations welcome!

Commander Bob
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