The Newest Feature In Air Travel: Fireproof Bags For Exploding Phones

Image courtesy of Don Buciak II

Although it was no doubt scary when a Note 7 recently caught fire on a Southwest flight, the passengers and crew in that case were lucky that the plane was still on the ground at the gate. It was easy to get everyone off the plane safely and quickly. That option doesn’t exist at 30,000 feet, but the number of devices — and therefore, potentially flammable devices — on board is only going to keep going up. The solution? Swift containment.

That comes in the form of “fire containment bags,” the AP reports. The bags are bright red, made of fire-resistant materials, and are designed to hold not just phones but laptops or tablets as well. They close with velcro and heavy zippers, and can withstand temperatures up to 3,200° F (1760° C).

Virgin America began installing the bags on its aircraft in November of 2015, a representative for the airline tells Consumerist. According to the AP, Alaska Airlines followed suit and has had the bags on board all 219 of its planes since May, well before the Note 7 became the poster-child for “by the way, batteries can be flammable” worldwide.

Delta will be up next; in a call this week, the AP reports, the airline said that all 900 or so of its craft will eventually sport the bags on board, but the first priority are the jumbo jets that fly transatlantic and transpacific routes. In 2017, the airline will expand the bags into domestic flights, including supplying “regional airline partners.”

United, Southwest, American, and JetBlue all told the AP that they don’t have any immediate plans to add fire-containment bags to their aircraft, but did specify that their flight crews are trained in how to react to and fight the kind of fire that a phone can cause.

Airlines add ‘fire containment bags’ for overheating phones [Associated Press]

Correction: an earlier version of this story, sourcing the AP, said that Virgin America installed the bags after its merger with Alaska, which took place in April 2016. Virgin America contacted Consumerist to correct the error.

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