Qantas has begun warning passengers not to adjust their seats if they lose mobile phones or other electronic devices while seated in flight.
The flight service director on Qantas flight QF23 to Bangkok last week told passengers over the public address system that if they mislaid their “devices” while seated, to alert a flight attendant who would help them retrieve the items. The advice was repeated at the start and at the end of the flight.
The advice follows an incident on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Los Angeles a few weeks ago, where a passenger’s mobile phone, presumably powered by a lithium battery, caught fire when caught in a seat recline mechanism and crushed. See: Seat crushes phone and starts fire on Qantas LAX flight
As a very safety conscious airline, Qantas is taking the matter seriously. Delegates and media flying to the TravelManagers conference in Bangkok were aboard QF23 on Thursday. I was among them and was asked at check-in specifically whether I was carrying any loose batteries, such as computer batteries, in my carry-on or check-in luggage.
Australian authorities issued a new warning last week about the dangers of carrying loose lithium batteries on aircraft after a passenger’s hand luggage burst into flames on a plane at Sydney Airport.
Fortunately the plane was on the ground and the blaze was soon brought under control. See: Alert after bag catches fire on plane at Sydney Airport
In 2015, a report by plane makers found firefighting systems on airlines would be unable to suppress or extinguish a fire involving significant quantities of lithium ion batteries.
Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, reminded airline passengers to carefully consider items in their carry-on luggage.
“We are all reminded before boarding of potential items, including loose lithium ion batteries, that should not fly,” Chester said.
“Most passengers would be aware of the more obvious hazardous items that should not board an airplane including flammable liquids, dangerous chemicals or compressed gases, but everyday items must also be considered before boarding including toiletries, aerosols and tools.
“The Australian Government has in place regulations designed to ensure the safety of passengers, but it is also everyone’s responsibility to declare dangerous items.
“In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority works closely with airlines and the aviation industry to minimise the risk of in-flight incidents. In recent years it has increased the focus on the carriage of personal electronic devices.
“I urge all travellers to read the warnings about dangerous items when checking in and surrender these items before boarding for the safety of everyone on the flight,” Chester said.
Details of what should and should not be taken on planes can be found here.
Written by Peter Needham