Major U.S. Airlines Ban Hoverboards

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Delta is among the airlines that have announced bans. 

If you have a client planning on bringing gifts when they travel this holiday season, you may want to make sure this recent airline policy change is on their radar: Three major U.S. airlines have banned hoverboards, a popular holiday gift this year, according to the Associated Press via The Detroit News. Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines have all announced bans, joining a recent prohibition by JetBlue Airways. Alaka Airlines, Virgin America, Hawaiian Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Airlines have also banned the devices. Southwest Airlines has said that it would like passengers with a hoverboard or other itmes that use lithium ion batteries to carry them on the plane, although a spokesperson told the AP that the airline is still discussing the topic. 

Hoverboard Safety Concerns

What sparked the ban? According to Wired, the two-wheeled self-balancing scooters have been reported to catch fire, even while not plugged in. Reportedly, many of the scooters incorporate cheap lithium ion batteries as a power source, which could be behind the fires. 

“There are a lot of factories in China that now make Li-ion batteries, and the reality is that the quality and consistency of these batteries is typically not as good as what is found in top tier producers such as LG or Samsung,” Jay Whitacre, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told Wired. “These are known as ‘low cost li-ion batteries’ by most in the industry—they are not knockoffs or copies, but are instead just mass-manufactured cells.”

In cheaper lithium ion batteries, impurities in metal particles can puncture the separator between the anode and the cathode, leading to a short circuit which causes a fire, Wired reports. 

The safety concerns over hoverboards have spread beyond airlines. USA Today reports that online retailer Amazon has stopped selling the devices. 

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