In 2013, the FAA released new guidelines that allowed the use of portable electronic devices during all stages of flight. Larger electronics, like laptop computers, still need to be put away during takeoff and landing. However smaller devices, such as cell phones, could still be used, provided they were in airplane mode.
Fast forward a few years and there was a new addition to flight attendants’ spiel: if you lose your cell phone in your seat, tell a flight attendant and don’t try to retrieve it yourself.
What’s up with that?
Turns out, it’s because of the risk of the phone’s battery going on fire.
Perfect example: In September 2018, a Qantas flight was on its way from Los Angeles to Melbourne. About 2 hours before landing, a business class passenger dropped his cell phone, which fell into the seat. While trying to retrieve the phone, it was crushed and started smoldering. Flight attendants got the fire extinguishers and the flight crew considered a diversion to Sydney. Fortunately, the flight attendants brought the situation under control and secured the (no longer) smartphone. The flight continued to Melbourne for a safe landing without further incident.
Phone batteries are, of course, lithium. And when lithium batteries are compressed, such as when they’re suddenly squashed between the mechanics of an airplane seat, they can overheat and catch on fire.
Better to ask a flight attendant, who will have a better idea of how to retrieve your lost phone safely, than to risk setting your phone (and perhaps the plane with it) on fire.
Feature Photo: Pixabay
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