Airlines Add Fire Containment Bags For Devices

If you're worried about flying on a plane where passengers may have a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the airlines want you to know it's in the bag. At least three U.S. airlines are adding new fire-suppression equipment to fleets in case a cellphone or laptop battery overheats, catches on fire and can't be extinguished.

Passengers typically haul a number of electronics onto flights now. It includes phones, laptops and other devices ranging from chargers to curling irons. All of those items have already caused onboard fire scares.


Delta plans to supply its entire mainline fleet with fire-containment bags by the end of 2017, according to the Wall StreetJournal. The airline joins Virgin America Inc. and Alaska Air GroupInc., which began doing so earlier this year.

The issue has taken on new urgency following incidents of overheating Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones. The Federal Aviation Administration has taken the unusual step of warning passengers not to use or charge the devices while on board and not to stow them in checked luggage.

The bright red bags are made of a fire-resistant material. They are designed to hold electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptops that can sometimes overheat and catch fire. American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines don't have any plans for fire containment bags. But all said their crews are trained on how to fight such high-energy fires. Additionally, aircraft have been fitted with fire extinguishers in the cabin as well as other fire detection and suppression systems.

In the past 25 years, the FAA has recorded 129 incidents involving batteries smoking, overheating or exploding in cargo or passenger baggage. There have been 23 incidents reported so far in 2016, up from 15 for all of 2015, according to the FAA.