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British Airways flight from Japan to London forced to divert to Alaska as business class passenger’s phone caught fire after getting crushed in reclining seat


  • The Boeing 787 with over 200 passengers on board was three hours into its flight
  •  Aircraft safety regulators are calling for new designs for seats

A London-bound British Airways flight from Japan was forced to divert to Alaska after a business class passenger’s phone caught fire after getting crushed in their reclining seat.

Cabin crew reported smoke in the Club World cabin from the smouldering phone and the captain of the packed passenger jet decided to divert the flight.

The Boeing 787 with over 200 passengers on board had taken off from Tokyo and was three hours into its flight to a stop in Toronto, Canada when the incident took place.

Despite crew making a pre-take off announcement that passengers should not attempt to retrieve any dropped phone in the reclining seats the warning was ignored.

When the seat was moved forward by the passenger it crushed the phone’s lithium battery causing it to overheat and catch fire.

Crew reported smoke in the Club World cabin (pictured) from the smouldering phone and the captain of the packed passenger jet decided to divert the flight to Alaska

Crew reported smoke in the Club World cabin (pictured) from the smouldering phone and the captain of the packed passenger jet decided to divert the flight to Alaska

The Boeing 787 with over 200 passengers on board had taken off from Tokyo and was three hours into its flight. Pictured: Stock image of Club World cabin

The Boeing 787 with over 200 passengers on board had taken off from Tokyo and was three hours into its flight. Pictured: Stock image of Club World cabin

Cabin crew dealt with the situation and vented the business class section.

But as they were unable to retrieve the phone as a precaution the Captain of the flight on October 1 issued a Pan Pan call to air traffic controllers and requested permission to divert.

A Pan Pan call in aviation speak is an emergency but not life-threatening situation and stands for ‘Possible Assistance Needed’.

The flight landed safely in Anchorage, Alaska, two hours later before continuing its journey to Toronto in Canada.It finally landed in London 30 hours late.

A report by the Canadian Transportation Safety Board said the aircraft experienced smoke in the cabin due to a portable device being stuck down the side of a passenger seat.

A British Airways spokesman confirmed that the flight diverted to Alaska before continuing its scheduled journey to Canada and on to London’s Heathrow Airport. The spokesman added that crew dealt with the incident and passengers were not at risk.

It is not the first time a BA flight has been forced to divert due to a mobile phone catching fire.

The Boeing 787 with over 200 passengers on board had taken off from Tokyo and was three hours into its flight. Pictured: Stock image of Club World cabin

The Boeing 787 with over 200 passengers on board had taken off from Tokyo and was three hours into its flight. Pictured: Stock image of Club World cabin

After the incident aircraft safety regulators called for new designs for seats - or for improved practices to reduce the risk of phone fires. Pictured: Stock image of Club World cabin

After the incident aircraft safety regulators called for new designs for seats – or for improved practices to reduce the risk of phone fires. Pictured: Stock image of Club World cabin

This is not the first time a BA flight has been forced to divert due to a mobile phone catching fire. Pictured: Stock image of Club World cabin

This is not the first time a BA flight has been forced to divert due to a mobile phone catching fire. Pictured: Stock image of Club World cabin

Two years ago cabin crew on a flight to Miami, Florida, had to extinguish a fire caused by a charging mobile phone that had fallen down the side of a business class seat.

The Boeing 787 with over 200 passengers on board had taken off from Tokyo and was three hours into its flight.

An Air Investigation Report found that the female passenger had moved her seat upright from its flat-bed position without realising her red iPhone had slipped down the side while being charged.

After the incident aircraft safety regulators called for new designs for seats – or for improved practices to reduce the risk of phone fires following the report.



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