A man and woman who were traveling together on board Southwest Airlines flight WN4699 from Dallas Love Field to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday got into a fight with each other – and wound up setting a fire. The pilot diverted the Boeing 737 while the crew put it out.
The plane was flying at around 39,000 feet a little over 100 nautical miles southwest of Pensacola when the man reportedly “slapped his cell phone against the woman’s body.” The phone began to “smoulder and emit smoke.”
A passenger yelled “fire!” Flight attendants on board intervened and took the phone, placing it into a battery containment bag. Twenty five minutes later the aircraft was on the ground in Pensacola.
The plane was delayed 90 minutes and eventually made it to Fort Lauderdale with everyone but the two ex-lovebirds on board.
According to Southwest Airlines,
A Southwest flight operating from Dallas Love Field safely diverted to Pensacola International Airport on Wednesday afternoon due to a dispute between two passengers traveling together that resulted in a broken cell phone which smoldered and was placed into a battery containment bag by our Flight Attendants. After the two passengers exited the aircraft in Pensacola, the flight continued to Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport. We appreciate the patience, cooperation, and support of the Customers onboard today.
This by the way is the reason the last administration’s brief experiment with banning electronics in the passenger cabin was such a bad idea. When electronics catch fire they can usually be contained in the passenger cabin but it’s much harder to deal with as cargo. It’s why airlines don’t allow lithium ion batteries to travel in checked luggage, and why a generation of ‘smart’ suitcases were been banned even as carry on bags, since there’s always the chance a carry on might have to be checked.
U.S. airlines generally carry fire containment bags and heat resistant gloves on their aircraft. That way when electronic devices catch fire they can deal with it.