JetBlue passengers evacuated after man’s portable charger explodes in backpack

Jimmy Levy / Instagram

The explosion of a man’s backpack caused passengers to be evacuated from a JetBlue flight from New York’s John F Kennedy Airport (JFK) to Fort Lauderdale Airport in Florida (FLL) on October 30, 2023.

The incident occurred on flight B6 1401 while the aircraft was still on the ground awaiting takeoff.

Passenger Jimmy Levy, the owner of the backpack, recounted his terrifying ordeal on his Instagram account, explaining that his bag was placed underneath his seat. The bag contained a portable charger, which is suspected to be the cause of the explosion.

Prior to takeoff, Levy said that he’d fallen asleep when he suddenly heard a big explosion and felt a wave of heat shooting towards his face.

Levy recounted that when he opened his eyes, he saw his backpack had become an “exploding and floating ball of fire.”

Levy immediately started stomping on the bag to prevent the fire from spreading. Soon, fellow passengers and crew sprang to action and also helped contain the fire, dousing the bag with water from drinking bottles.

The teamwork helped to contain the fire, but in order for the situation to be investigated thoroughly, all passengers were required to evacuate the aircraft.

No one was injured from the incident.

Saved by a flight delay

Speaking to South Florida news outlet WSVN, Levy said he “legitimately thanks God” because due to the flight’s delay, the fiery incident occurred while the aircraft was still on the ground. 

Had the explosion occurred mid-flight, the immediate evacuation of passengers wouldn’t have been possible.

Levy also warned others to be careful and conscientious of items they pack. He said that his portable charger was switched off and was packed alongside clothing and other personal items.

Speaking to various US media outlets, a JetBlue spokesperson confirmed that the flight was evacuated while at the gate before takeoff “due to a customer’s malfunctioning electronic device or battery”.

FAA regulations state that spare lithium-ion batteries (which include portable chargers) must be carried in carry-on luggage only while TSA regulations require that portable chargers be placed in carry-on luggage or carried on your person. They are not allowed in checked luggage.

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