Travel Trouble

Thu, 27 Sep, 2018Danielle McCarthy

Why you should never pick up a dropped smartphone during a flight

Why you should never pick up a dropped smartphone during a flight

Passengers have been reminded to listen carefully to the instructions of cabin crew after a Qantas passenger’s mobile phone caught alight mid-flight.

The flight, travelling from Los Angeles to Melbourne yesterday morning, was two hours away from landing when the smell of burnt rubber became apparent around 6am.

The Herald Sun reported that cabin crew rushed through the cabin with fire extinguishers, causing confusion among passengers.

“Nobody knew what was going on,” a passenger told the publication.

“The (flight attendant) was on the internal phone when two male hostesses grabbed fire extinguishers and ran up the stairs to business.”

The smell came from a mobile phone that had become crushed in a business class seat.

The incident, which nearly forced an emergency landing in Sydney, occurred after the passenger moved the seat to retrieve their dropped phone, crushing the device in the process and causing it to smoulder.

However, after 10 minutes cabin crew announced that the situation was under control and the flight would continue to Melbourne.

“They didn’t say there was a fire, but … my friend overheard two guys talking at the baggage carousel and said the seat was completely destroyed,” the passenger said.

“It was pretty scary … it panicked a few people.”

Qantas confirmed the incident and said it showcased why it is crucial to follow the instructions of staff.

“Our crew are trained to handle these situations and the crew on-board followed all the correct procedures,” the statement said. 

“This incident shows why we ask passengers to seek help from our cabin crew in retrieving their mobile phones.”

Pre-flight safety videos warn passengers to ask for the help of crew if they need to retrieve an electronic device they’ve dropped.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said that when seats are adjusted it can damage the device’s volatile lithium battery, causing it to overheat and burst into flames.

CASA said the number of such incidents were increasing because of the slimline design of smartphones and the increased power of batteries

“Passengers must remember never to move their seat if a phone goes missing while in-flight and to always ask the aircraft cabin crew for assistance,” CASA said in a statement.

“If a phone is damaged cabin crew should be alerted immediately.”