A lithium-ion battery for an e-cigarette overheated inside a checked bag at Boston Logan International Airport, prompting an evacuation of a section of the busy airport and reminders from federal security agents that the batteries are prohibited in checked luggage.
The smoldering e-cigarette battery was discovered on a busy Saturday morning after Thanksgiving when smoke began pouring from a suitcase inside the baggage screening room. According to NBC 10 Boston, the smoldering bag was discovered moments before it was loaded onto an airplane.
Transportation Security Agents evacuated the baggage screening area and called in Massport Fire & Rescue and a Massachusetts State Police bomb unit. The TSA Tweeted a video of the smoking bag, along with a reminder to air travelers:
Just a reminder… E-cigarettes and vaping devices are prohibited in checked luggage. The lithium batteries used in these devices can be a fire hazard. Read our blog post to learn more: https://t.co/EXd6xmX4EL pic.twitter.com/Syuvqpb5TH
— TSA (@TSA) November 28, 2018
“Just a reminder… E-cigarettes and vaping devices are prohibited in checked luggage. The lithium batteries used in these devices can be a fire hazard.”
Operations returned to normal when emergency responders determined the situation to be safe.
“TSA is focused on ensuring that nothing catastrophic occurs on an airplane, and so of course a suitcase that has smoke emitting from it is definitely suspicious,” a TSA official said in a statement, according to New England Cable News.
The risks that e-cigarettes and lithium-ion batteries pose to air travel can hardly be understated. Should an e-cigarette battery malfunction inside a checked bag on an airplane, there is no way for crew to access the cargo hold or contain the fire.
The TSA and FAA do allow lithium-ion batteries for e-cigarettes and other consumer devices to be stowed in carry-ons. Any fires that result from e-cigarettes and lithium batteries can be better handled inside the cabin.
The smoking bag belonged to a man traveling to Kansas City. Authorities located and questioned the man. The disruption caused a slight delay to some flights.