A JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco had to be diverted due to a reported fire started by a laptop’s lithium ion battery, as the government continues to consider expanding the current ban on laptops and other large electronics in airplane cabins.
ABC News reports that JetBlue flight 915 out of New York - JFK had to be diverted to Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at around 8 p.m. Tuesday evening after the battery in a passenger’s laptop reportedly caught fire.
JetBlue told CBS News that the flight was diverted “following reports of smoke emitting from a carry-on bag holding an electronic device.” The flight crew extinguished the fire, and emergency crews were able to remove the damaged equipment after the plane landed.
According to NBC News, no injuries were reported. The plane was able to take off around 8:50 p.m. and continue to San Francisco.
The incident comes as the government continues to mull expanding the ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in airplane cabins. Following a recent meeting between security officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the European Union (EU), reports indicate that an expanded laptop ban is “likely” but not “imminent.” If the ban is expanded, it could include flights from a number of major airports in Europe.
The ban had reportedly been introduced over fears that terrorists could manually detonate explosives hidden in laptops and other large electronic devices. At the same time, the ban has drawn criticism from some safety officials, who argue that storing large amounts of electronics powered by lithium ion batteries in an aircraft’s cargo hold could pose a fire risk. In April the European Aviation Safety Agency had warned against storing large amounts of electronics as cargo after at least two plane crashes were traced to fires that started in palettes of lithium ion batteries.
Lithium ion-powered consumer electronics have caused fire issues before. Last year the U.S. Department of Transportation was forced to ban all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones from all airline flights following over 100 incidents of the devices overheating, sometimes causing injuries.
“We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” then-Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at the time. “We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident inflight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk.”
The current ban currently applies to 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. Travel agents with clients that might be affected by the ban can keep an eye on the current list of airports and airlines affected here. For clients concerned about the safety of their electronic devices while they are traveling as checked baggage, we’ve compiled a list of quick travel insurance tips regarding the new electronics ban to share.