Passengers on an Alaska Airline passenger plane experienced a big fright upon landing at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport when a smartphone suddenly caught fire. According to The Seattle Times, the phone in question is reported to be a Samsung Galaxy A21.
While the device itself didn’t cause any major damage, it did cause the aircraft to be engulfed in smoke, the publication wrote. In a separate report, an Alaskan Airline spokesperson told the Associated Press that the phone had “overheated and began sparking” moments after the plane arrived from New Orleans.
Passenger sent @KIRO7Seattle this video following the plane evacuation. Per @flySEA: “Passengers were transported by bus to the terminal, some with minor injuries.” Passenger credits flight attendants for acting fast throughout the entire incident. pic.twitter.com/y0UGMVP73w
— Kevin Ko (@NewsWithKevin) August 24, 2021
The plane’s crew resorted to using fire extinguishers and a battery containment bag in order to “stop the phone from smoking,” and also instructed passengers to evacuate via evacuation slides due to “hazy” conditions inside the cabin. All 128 passengers and six crew members were then safely transported to the airport’s terminal by bus. There were no serious injuries caused by the incident but according to The Verge, two passengers were treated at a local hospital.
While authorities told the media that the smartphone is believed to be a Samsung Galaxy A21, its charred remains are noted to be unidentifiable. “After much digging, I can tell you that the phone was burned beyond recognition,” said Port of Seattle spokesperson Perry Cooper in an email to The Seattle Times. “However, during an interview with one of our Port of Seattle Police officers, the passenger volunteered the phone was a Samsung Galaxy A21. Again, we could not confirm it by looking at the remains of the device.”
If the claim is to be believed, this marks the first time for the Samsung phone model, which was released in July last year, to be reported exhibiting such a flaw. Needless to say, this incident harkens back to the brand’s unfortunate experience with its Galaxy Note 7 flagship, which was identified as a potential fire hazard in 2016 due to its defective battery unit – consequently banning the phone from entering any aircraft.
While all eyes may be focusing towards Samsung due to this incident, it is worth pointing out that there have been other in-aircraft fires caused by smartphones reported in 2021. Among these include yet another Alaska Airline plane earlier in March, where an iPhone 6 was reported to have combusted during a flight from Washington to Hawaii. Meanwhile, an iPhone XR was also reported to have gone up in flames on a British Airways flight in April, after getting trapped in a passenger’s seat for a certain amount of time.