Cargo Catches Fire Moments Before It’s Loaded Onto Plane In Hong Kong

Over the weekend, Vivo Y20 cell phones and accessories which were made in Guangdong, China and headed to Bangkok caught fire as they were about to be loaded onto an aircraft in Hong Kong.

The phones were loaded across three pallets, all of which caught fire, and it reportedly took the emergency services some 40 minutes to put out the blaze. Sources told local media that, while the airport’s operations were not affected, a 24 by 12 metre space on the tarmac was damaged.

As a result shipper Hong Kong Air Cargo has banned carrying Vivo mobile phones. They will no longer accept shipments from Cargo Link Logistics or Sky Pacific Logistics, either.

Remember in 2017 when the U.S. government was requiring passenger electronics to be checked on flights from certain destinations? It came right after the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was banned on planes due to fire hazard.

The requirement to check electronics was the height of insanity, since 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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Meanwhile in America…
    It took Doctors two hours to pull Bidens head out of his @ss.

  2. @flying while high again:
    Meanwhile, doctors still haven’t been able to take Trumps head out of his behind.
    Why, because the Chump Fool is such a “Dumb, Son-Of-A-Bitch”.

  3. @Gary – Is that not also due to the risk of flight batteries catching? For example, the problematic Boeing “Dreamliner”/787 batteries in the early days of production of that craft.

    Regarding the phones, I’m only surprised this isn’t more common, considering how awful the quality many Chinese electronics are, and how sensitive lithium batteries are. I would normally consider this something of an overreaction (banning the manufacturer and shipper). However, the value of airplanes probably makes this an appropriate response.

  4. I spent 4 1/2 hours online yesterday seeking help from United airlines Hong Kong help line. they then disconnected me after I repeatedly asked to speak to a supervisor.

  5. Lithium batteries of any size or quantity are hazardous material. They are tendered with shipper declarations stating what the devices are, the hazardous material-lithium batteries, and total quantities. Most carriers are on constant look out for lithium battery issues. A lithium battery fire on an inflight cargo aircraft, cannot be extinguished. Yes, there are fire retarding systems on cargo aircraft. But a lithium battery fire spreads very fast and has very high temperatures. It would easily overwhelm the fire suppression system.

    Banning the shipper/freight forwarders is the only way to prevent a tragedy from happening. I would not surprised if this Vivo company is permanently banned from air shipping.

  6. JohnB obviously was able to stay awake during HAZMAT classes and is 100% correct . . . .just as WhileFlyingHighAgain is.

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