A British Airways flight bound for London Heathrow Airport (LHR) was forced to divert to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) in Alaska after a business class (Club World) seat caught fire due to an overheated mobile phone.
Flight BA8 departed Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) on October 1, 2023. It was three hours into the flight when the incident occurred.
A mobile phone belonging to a business class passenger fell inside the crevices of the reclining seat, which moved forward when the passenger attempted to retrieve it. The phone’s lithium battery was crushed in the process, causing the device to overheat and scorch the seat.
In its pre-flight safety video, the airline warns passengers not to move the seat in the event that an electronic device is lost, advising travelers to seek the assistance of a cabin crew member instead.
Cabin crew were able to contain the fire and vented the business class area. However, because they were still unable to retrieve the mobile phone, a decision to divert was made and a Pan-Pan call was sent to air traffic controllers in Anchorage.
A Pan-Pan call (Possible Assistance Needed) in aviation conveys that help is required but at present the situation does not pose an immediate danger to anyone’s life or to aircraft.
The 787-9 Dreamliner landed safely in Anchorage, Alaska, two hours later before continuing on its stopover to Toronto in Canada. It finally landed in London 30 hours behind schedule.
A British Airways spokesperson confirmed the incident to the Daily Mail and advised that the fiery episode posed no risk to any of the crew or passengers.