Laptop Lights on Fire on Airplane, Causing Injuries and Emergency Landing

Passengers had the scare of their lives early Tuesday on a flight from San Diego to Newark. Shortly after taking off, smoke began to fill the cabin and people complained to the flight attendants. 

It was discovered that somebody’s battery for their laptop had caught fire. 

The United Airlines flight returned to San Diego for an emergency landing. It landed safely, but four of the stewardesses had to go to the hospital; two passengers had to be checked by paramedics for smoke inhalation. 

The truth is that the danger from laptops’ lithium batteries is only growing and passengers need to know certain facts to stay safe. 

A Growing Danger

The flight eventually took off again without incident and got to New Jersey safely. United thanked their staff for the “quick actions” which made sure everything was resolved as fast as possible. 

The truth is the lithium-type of batteries used in most laptops and cellphone chargers, as well as power banks, have a danger of getting broken or overheating. The FAA necessitates that they are brought on carry-on, but spare batteries still have a significant danger of problems.

The majority of dangerous incidents have involved stored batteries or power packs that are brought on separately, but already overheated or damaged and begin having problems during the flight. 

Between 2006 to 2022 there were 414 problems that occurred due to batteries getting extremely hot, smoking, or burning onboard flights. The majority were from spare battery packs, but problems also occurred with vapes and with laptops themselves. 

Safety measures include putting any battery packs in the original package and not putting them in any other place like under heavy things. If they get sat on by mistake or broken, it can cause problems.

What Else Can Be Done?

The Federal Aviation Administration considers fines for inspections that miss dangerous lithium devices or improperly stored devices. After what happened with United Airlines, the FAA is looking further into that. 

For now, safety experts advise being cautious about this problem and letting the crew know as soon as possible. You should not react by throwing or trying to stamp out or put a cloth over the burning or smoking item. 

At the same time, it is important not to panic, as usually these smoking incidents and fires can be managed safely and contained. 

Turning the air fans on and opening the vents can help disperse smoke, but the bottom line is to be aware of this danger and alert the crew early. 

Fortunately, everyone onboard the United Airlines flight got to their destination safely and the four cabin crew did not have life-threatening injuries, but this is definitely a threat we still need to keep our eyes on.

This article appeared in FreshOffThePress and has been published here with permission.